Javalin Welcomes Benji the Guide Dog

John Vallance with nephew Scott Vallance and BenjiWe wrote recently about the support Javalin have provided for Scott, John’s registered blind nephew who lives in Norfolk. In this follow-up story we welcome the arrival of Benji, a German shepherd Guide Dog.

For many years, Scott would use a white cane and the close bond and companionship of his pet dog Cassie to get around the local community where he lives. Cassie was a Japanese Akita that Scott had from a pup and she was indeed a “man’s best friend”. Imagine if you can being blind but having a big dog such as this to stroke, cuddle, care for and use as your guide. She was his pride and joy and constant companion.

Scott believed the main benefit of having such a beautiful dog was that it attracted people like flies. Everybody who lived near him liked to see them together and would go out of their way to greet them both. Scott was already well known for his charitable involvement in the community but he says Cassie was always the star magnet, not him!

Scott was of course extremely fond of his pet but there is only so much a dog like this can do to assist you. Friends and relatives kept urging him to get a “real” guide dog but he felt this would not be fair to Cassie, it would surely put her nose well out of joint. It wasn’t until 2012 after Cassie passed away that Scott took the plunge and enquired about a Guide Dog for the Blind. This is a process of some complexity but Scott was soon assessed and accepted.

Clinton Cards had expressed an interest in sponsoring a guide dog from birth and it was soon agreed they would be the sponsors of Scott’s dog. At this level of sponsorship, the donor is able to choose the breed and name for the dog, so this is how a German Shepherd dog named Benji was allocated to Scott Vallance.

Now Benji goes everywhere with Scott. He is currently away on a bowling trip to Hastings but will soon be home via the rail system, through the heart on London and back up to where he lives in Stalham, Norfolk, ably guided by Benji.

Scott says: "Benji is just marvellous. The bond between a blind person and their guide dog is so strong I really cannot imagine what life would be like without him now. It seems like I have had him for years not just 6 months. He is my constant friend and buddy. I only have to click my fingers and he is there by my side. At home he is a pet but as soon as his harness is on he is at work. My wife Susan has two Bichons Frises, they adore Benji and they seem to understand that Benji is working when he has his hi-viz jacket on."

We will keep you posted on more tales from Scott and Benji.

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