The legally blind 13-year-old from Coaldale is now the youngest person in Canada to receive a guide dog for the blind. She and her mother, Gloria, returned home last month following their month-long training at the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides training school in Oakville, Ont. with a new travelling companion: Crumpet, a year-old off-white poodle.
They’ve only known each other a few weeks, but Skyla and Crumpet are already in sync, according to Gloria Greening, who had to learn not to be as near to her daughter or to pet Crumpet during the intense training.
Because of Skyla’s visual impairment, “she just can’t do things on her own without somebody with her at all times, and even going and doing things around the house is a struggle for Skyla, so we found out about this,” Gloria said of the guide dog training. “It’s good all the way around.”
The application process for a guide dog is a long one — the family applied to the school months ago and later had a home visit from a trainer who decided Skyla would be a good match for a guide dog.
But nothing was certain until Skyla graduated from training and got to take Crumpet home.
Crumpet will accompany Skyla anywhere she needs to go — school, church, the grocery store — and the pair has already learned how to tackle escalators and go around tricky obstacles together. “I think it’s awesome,” Skyla said, adding the best part of having Crumpet is, “that I can take her everywhere.”
About 13 other southern Alberta residents also currently have service dogs from the school.