On Saturday, February 18, at the Poznań-Ławica Airport, a training of future guide dogs took place, in which the charges of the Poznań Foundation for the Blind Labrador-Pies Guide took part. On a daily basis, the organization deals with the training of quadrupeds, which in the future are to become assistance dogs for people with visual impairment. This is a unique role for which these animals are specially prepared. This time we managed to organize an extraordinary training – at the Ławica airport.

Where did this idea come from?

The training of assistance dogs by the Foundation and its volunteers is a long and arduous process, lasting about 2 years. The training of a dog that is to become a guide begins in the first weeks of its life. The animal, under the supervision of its temporary guardian, develops, learns about the environment and our human world. He learns how to live in the city and how to deal with various everyday situations. From a puppy age, dogs are tamed with tram, bus or train rides. They accompany their carers every day, so using public transport is no stranger to them. What about the plane? Blind people can fly too.

So far, the foundation’s volunteers have never had the opportunity to practice visiting the airport with a dog preparing to become a guide. And such situations do not happen once. If the animal has not had the opportunity to experience what every passenger normally experiences, then visually impaired people will be thrown into deep water when traveling by plane.

Zdjęcia: Robert Woźniak / Głos Wielkopolski

An exceptional experience

And here the Poznań Airport came to the rescue, joining the Foundation’s training campaign and opening its space for extraordinary students. Kira, Simba, Mochi, Molly, Lexi, Gingerbread, Buka, Głoska, Frela, and Betka are black and biscuit Labradors that learn their life role – the guide of a blind person. A total of 23 dogs had the opportunity to get acquainted with the airport area and walk the entire path of the passenger!

The animals, along with the volunteers leading them, went through the gates and waited for their guardians to collect their luggage. They took a ride in a car with a lift for people with mobility difficulties and practiced walking with wheelchairs. Labradors could prove themselves in difficult spaces for them, and the older group of 13 dogs also had the opportunity to board the plane, of course, outside the time of using the machine. A big thank you to the Ryanair and Buzz airline teams for this opportunity! It was a very important part of the training. Thanks to this, dogs assisting visually impaired people during air travel in the future will have to deal with an already familiar environment.

The visit to the airport made a great impression on everyone. The Foundation emphasizes that it was a very important lesson for future assistance dogs. Steep metal stairs, open spaces, crowds of people and cramped planes can be difficult for a dog, but after such training it will definitely be easier for them.

The first such initiative, and not the last…

Copyright: Marta Nowacka

All dogs coped with a medal, so it looks like they will prove themselves equally well in their new role! However, this is not the only such initiative, but a cyclical training campaign of the Labrador Foundation, in which Ławica Poznań is involved. Trainings in the terminal, with the participation of airport PRM agents (services taking care of people with disabilities), will take place outside the peak of the summer season, in the winter.

Zdjęcia: Robert Woźniak / Głos Wielkopolski