Guide dogs learn to cross the road with a little help from AGD Systems
Guide dogs in training at Guide Dogs Cymru, Cardiff, are finding it a little easier to get to grips with pelican crossings, thanks to a donation from AGD Systems – the people who make the familiar ‘boxes’ that we press for a signal to cross the road safely.
As part of their role as guide dogs for blind or partially sighted people, the dogs have to be taught to take their owner to a pedestrian crossing and indicate where the box is, so that their owner can push the button. However, as guide dog mobility instructor Tony Harvey explains, it can be difficult to teach the dogs what to look for – particularly at a busy junction where there are lots of distractions.
Enter AGD Systems, who manufacture the “924 far-side pedestrian wait signal”, which is used across the UK and around the world. When AGD heard that Guide Dogs Cymru wanted help with training dogs on pelican crossings, they were delighted to donate some dummy control boxes. Tony and his colleagues then found a way to have the boxes mounted so they can be moved to any height on the pole. “This means we can make it easier for the dogs at the start of their training by putting the controllers at head height, then as they start to learn we can raise them higher,” explains Tony. He also trains the dogs away from the distractions of a real-life junction, to give them the best chance of learning this important task safely.
“When you see what a lot of work the trainers, the dogs and their owners have to put in, you can’t help but be impressed,” says AGD’s commercial manager, Greg Baker. “With our roads becoming ever busier, it’s crucial that blind and partially sighted people know where they can cross safely. We’re delighted to be able to help in any way we can.”