How buddy dogs are changing the lives of young people with sight loss

Sam was too nervous of cats to pass his guide dog training but has had a 'career change' to become Adam's new four-legged friend.

Buddy dogs are being matched up with young people with sight loss as part of a “life-changing” scheme.

Guide Dogs UK have been matching dogs that don’t quite manage to pass their training with young people in need of a loyal four-legged friend.

There are 50 active buddy dogs as part in Scotland – and the charity hope to spread awareness of the service.

Families say the resulting friendships have been remarkable.

Golden Labrador Sam was a little too nervous of cats to pass his official guide dog training but has been matched up with his friend Adam Cusack, 20.

Adam, from Musselburgh, told STV News: “It was almost love at first sight. I’ve always wanted a dog since I was a wee boy.

“He attached to us so well. He was brilliant.

Sam has made a 'massive impact' on the Cusack family

“He loves his food and loves a chase around the table after his dinner.

“I realised there was something missing before when I got Sam.

“He’s a great companion and always there if I need him.”

Adam was struck by meningitis when he was three years old.

He was put into a coma and suffered a brain injury, which impacted his sight and resulted in various health conditions.

Guide Dogs UK introduced the family to Sam – and he’s never left Adam’s side.

Adam’s dad Frank said: “Sam has made a massive impact in our family.

“Adam has a bit of sight loss; kids like that are often isolated and find it hard to make connections.

“He has several conditions and life can be negative, but this rounds it off to a positive.

“He now has a best friend. He is more confident and a far more rounded individual.

“The focus was initially on Adam’s sight loss, but the positives have been far more varied than the negative impacts of his health.

Robbie Campbell said buddy dogs help increase children's confidence

“[As a family] we’re more warmer and welcoming to people and dogs, to everything. It’s changed us completely.”

Guide Dogs UK’s buddy dog service Robbie Campbell inked the pair together.

She said: “The dogs that aren’t able to become a guide dog, get a career change to buddy dog service.

“They are a family dog, providing companionship and bringing support to the whole family.

“They increase children’s confidence out and about on walks and help bring the family closer together.

“No dogs are perfect. They all have their quirks. Sam was a bit cheeky, full of energy but he has really settled with his family.

“Seeing the difference before and after a dog is absolutely incredible.”

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