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Assistance dog Pickle part of Loughborough Family

Two-year-old Pickle is a black Labrador and is very popular around the Loughborough University Campus.

Pickle - or Princess Pickle as she is affectionately known by her owner – has an important job to do.

She is a guide dog to Alexandra Bowmer, a project manager in Loughborough University’s IT Services.

To celebrate International Assistance Dog Week (4-10 August), we found out more about their relationship and how the University supports them.

“Each morning Pickle has breakfast and I make sure she is well-groomed. My view is that Pickle is an ambassador for guide dogs and she should always look her best.

“I get into work by either walking, on the bus or I have a lift in the car.

“A typical working day for me consists of various meetings and many of them are scattered across the campus.

“Pickle has learned a lot of routes that I need to have in my head, while I am getting around the campus.

“She learns things quickly and she doesn’t need to go over them more than once.

“Even in buildings that we don’t know very well, Pickle is good at finding help. She will go up to a desk and see if someone can show us the way. Colleagues and students also make time to help us if we look a bit lost.

“In my office, I have a comfy bed for Pickle and she has toys and a water bowl, that she always has access to.

“If I’m based in another office for a significant amount of time, she is made to feel welcome and at home.

“The most important thing for Pickle is to have some downtime during the day and the University has made sure that she has a safe place to play and sleep.

“Pickle is a real star. For me, she is Princess Pickle.

“I couldn’t do my job half as well without her. My independence is much greater with her. I feel that I have a sense of freedom that I wouldn’t have just using my white cane.

“I’ve found the University to be an extremely thoughtful and considerate employer.

"They have taken the considerations of other colleagues into account when I looked at office locations, to make sure that those with dog allergies aren’t in the same open space and those with a fear are also catered for.

“When I first started my job, the University sent out welcome messages to my colleagues to say: ‘Hi I’m Pickle, this is what I do, please don't feed me but please play with me when I'm not in harness and remember to keep your lunch safe.’

“I've known many guide dogs in my time to snaffle people’s lunches.

“Pickle is my fourth guide dog and I’ve had her since December 2018 - so she’s still new to the role.

“I started losing my sight while I was at university and I used a white cane.

“After University I applied for my first guide dog. It made me feel very nervous because I'd never had a dog before, so I wasn't sure if I truly wanted to have that responsibility.

“I was going to be responsible for another living being and I was going to have a dog that really needed me and I really needed them.

“It is a truly liberating experience having a guide dog as talented as Pickle and she is a very important part of my life.

“There is currently no funding from the Government for guide dogs and they are supported through fundraising.

“But there are lots of ways people can help to support them, from donating to volunteering to taking part in puppy walking.

"Guide dogs do an amazing job for a number of people with different needs.

“Not only do they play an important role but they give people a much greater level of independence.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 19/112

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2019 QS World University Rankings, University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019 and top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2020, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and 8th in The UK Complete University Guide 2020.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

Loughborough staff, students and alumni make a real difference. They challenge convention, think creatively and find solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing society today and in the future.

Meet the #LboroGameChangers at lboro.ac.uk/lborogamechangers

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