“Same old ding dong”: The impact of the initial lockdown in 2020 on Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind
Keywords:Pandemic, Guide dog, SAR-CoV-2, Ireland, Guide dog mobility instructors
Ireland found itself in a lockdown to combat the international spread of the SAR-CoV-2 virus beginning in March of 2020. This paper presents the initial impact that the initial lockdown and accompanying social distancing measures had on Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (IGDB). Twenty-eight interviews were conducted with twenty-six interlocutors, including IGDB staff and clients, professionals within the guide dog sector, and locals to Cork City, Ireland. Findings show that lockdown measures impacted the education and work-lives of the guide dogs and instructors. Guide dogs lived in temporary homes rather than in the center’s kennels, which seems to improve their relaxation and education. Although the instructors may have benefitted from working outdoors with canines, they encountered challenges while teaching clients and guide dogs. They also needed to motivate the canines more to find a purpose in their work which had come to feel like the “same old ding dong”, with most destinations closed. The clients, especially those who experienced their first class during 2020, felt the loss of connection and support offered in the group class pre-pandemic. Despite these obstacles, interlocutors managed these obstacles well and looked optimistically toward the future.
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