Stowmarket: Meet Edward, the guide dog - with a guide dog!
FOR more than six years, Edward was a truly outstanding guide dog, well known in and around Stowmarket.
But last summer, after developing inoperable cataracts, Graham Waspe’s committed canine companion had to have both his eyes removed, leaving him unable to continue in his role.
Now Mr Waspe, 60, has new guide dog Opal to help him – and Edward – get around.
Edward is well known at schools and community groups around Suffolk that Mr Waspe and his wife Sandra, who live in Danescourt Avenue, have been visiting for many years.
The couple, always accompanied by Edward and now by Opal too, give informative talks about the Guide Dogs charity, the training dogs go through and the incredible ways in which they help their owners.
Mrs Waspe, 58, said that despite the loss of his eyes, Edward still loved nothing more than to be around children, have his tummy tickled and receive lots of attention.
The eight-year-old hound has been retired for four months but the loss of his eyesight has shown no sign of slowing him down.
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Mrs Waspe said: “We were both devastated and cried buckets on the night they told us they were going to remove his first eye. Graham said then ‘do you think he will ever be happy again?’ and then they said they would have to remove the second eye.
“He is still very popular – just as much, if not more than before. People ask lots of questions about how he copes and he is probably more famous now because even more people stop to talk to him.”
Mrs Waspe said Opal, a two-year-old bitch, had arrived shortly after Edward retired and despite living under the same roof, the two dogs did not pay too much attention to each other.
She said: “Opal arrived far quicker than expected because, sadly, a couple of people in the Stowmarket area with fairly young guide dogs had died.
“We got Opal on November 12 and she started training with Graham on the 16th and they were qualified in early December.”
Mr Waspe has limited vision in only one of his eyes following two separate incidents earlier in his life, and coped for a long time without a guide dog before being partnered with Edward in 2004.
As well as carrying out visits to raise awareness of the Guide Dogs charity, Mr and Mrs Waspe also do fundraising and run a local group.
Their latest collection outside a Stowmarket supermarket raised an impressive �1,601.83 and soon two Stowmarket Specsavers employees, who have met with the couple in the past, will be doing a charity skydive.
For more details about fundraising for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, call Mr and Mrs Waspe on 01449 615080.