Puppies from Guide Dogs Scotland were put through their paces at Edinburgh Airport today to improve assistance for passengers with sight problems.
The 12 trainees were walked through Scotland’s busiest air terminal for a training day.
The puppies, aged between six and 15 months, arrived at the terminal with their puppy walkers to take part in a full airport walkthrough from arriving at the check-in hall, to going through security and into the departure lounge.
Part of the airport’s wider ‘Travelling with Additional Needs’ programme, the terminal team invited the group from Guide Dogs Scotland along for the special training session which allows the puppies to gain crucial experience of a busy airport environment.
With over 520 registered guide dog owners in Scotland and many being regular air passengers, it’s vital that the puppies are trained for their future role as guide dogs as they have to be ready to deal with all eventualities and get used to busy places.
Sarah Gardiner, Head of Terminal Operations at Edinburgh Airport, said:
“We’re very pleased to welcome the guide dog puppies and their handlers into the airport today so we can help give them valuable training for their future.
“We launched our Travelling with Additional Needs programme last April and have spent the last 12 months working hard with our Terminal and Security teams to help us better understand the complex requirements that some of our passengers may have.
David Smith, puppy walking supervisor with Guide Dogs Scotland, said:
“Fully qualified guide dogs are required to face a variety of settings and situations with calmness and confidence, and early tastes of different environments will see them experienced for later life.
It will be quite a day for the puppies, with most of them traveling by public transport such as trains, buses and trams, before experiencing the airport environment.
It’s a good experience for the pups to get used to the sights, sounds and smells of the airport so it shouldn’t bother them later when they are fully trained guide dogs helping people with sight loss to lead independent lives.”