The success of the partnership between a guide dog handler (or owner) and a guide dog depends upon both the suitability of the dog and the skill of the handler in maintaining the relationship. This qualitative study explored the use of guide dogs from the perspective of those who use them as a prelude to a larger scale, quantitative project assessing the matching process and the outcome of the partnership. The data were collected from a focus group discussion from which eight themes emerged. These included: mobility; adjustment to vision loss; advantages and disadvantages of using a guide dog; the matching process; training with the dog; social function, feelings of friends and family; and the outcome of the relationship. In this article, these themes are described and exemplified with extracts from the focus group discussion. The study fulfilled its purpose as an information gathering exercise to further investigate the relationship between guide dog handlers and their dogs, and has added to a small but growing body of literature on the topic.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Medicine, Clinical Medicine, Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine