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.”