North Lakes Hotel & Spa, Penrith, welcomed some very special guests on Thursday (March 14) – two guide dogs in training, Rose and Sue, as part of a new partnership between the hotel and the Guide Dogs UK charity.
The dogs will be staying at the AA four-star hotel for two weeks as part of their core skills training, while they form a bond with their new partners.
To ensure it all goes as smoothly as possible, five members of the North Lakes Hotel and Spa team recently visited the Guide Dog UK’s North West regional centre for My Guide training, in order for them to be more aware of the challenges faced by people with sight impairment and the support they need. There was no shortage of volunteers who were willing to do the training at the regional centre and everyone was thrilled to meet Rose and Sue on Thursday.
Rose and Sue have spent a year with volunteer puppy walkers who have socialised them and they have had 26 weeks of formal training, 16 weeks with a Guide Dog Trainer and 10 weeks a dog mobility instructor.
The hotel stay marks the start of their journey as guide dogs, which involves five weeks of training with their new partners. The first two weeks are done in a hotel where they will learn how to handle the dogs. This involves basic obedience, how to walk them on a lead, how to put on the harness and how to look after the dog and make sure they are healthy.
General Manager at North Lakes Hotel & Spa, Antony Penny, said: “We are a dog friendly hotel, with dedicated dog friendly rooms, an outdoor dog run and even our own in-house dog, so when Deborah first visited, I was delighted she experienced that genuine warm welcome.
“Our team are very excited to be part of this partnership with Guide Dogs UK and we are sure that Rose and Sue, their new partners and Deborah will enjoy their stay with us and give them the best possible start to their new journey together.”
Deborah Hiscox, Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, said: “I was looking for a hotel in Cumbria and I visited a few – you get a lot from first impressions. I went to North Lakes with a friend and their guide dog and the staff couldn’t be more helpful. Everyone has been bending over backwards to help us and nothing is too much trouble.”
Guide Dogs UK is a UK charity that currently has around 5,000 working partnerships, including around 40 in Cumbria. They also offer My Guide services, children and young people services and long care training.