‘Having my guide dog has totally changed my world’

Peta Coles with her guide dog Harmony
Peta Coles with her guide dog Harmony

A partially sighted woman from Dunton is doing all she can to raise money to help those who need the use of a guide dog.

Peta Coles has had her guide dog, Harmony, since last February and says for her it has been a life-changing experience.

She said: “Having Harmony has totally changed my world. I was quite isolated before when I used to rely on my stick to get around.”

Peta suffers with retinitis pigmentosa, a disease which has an effect on peripheral vision, and can eventually lead to being completely blind.

She is now working in conjunction with the East Bedfordshire Volunteers for Guide Dogs Group to try and raise funds for those who are in need of guide dogs.

It is estimated that over their lifetime a guide dog costs £50,000 and there is no government funding for them.

Peta said: “We are looking to do as many fundraising events as possible to try and help raise crucial funds for those who need guide dogs.

“The main thing is to try and make people more aware of the situation.”

Peta and Harmony will be in Biggleswade on Saturday on a promotional stall in the market handing out leaflets and talking about the issue.

What is even more remarkable about Peta is the fact she openly admits she was petrified of dogs growing up.

She said: “When I was younger I would get into a stationary car to avoid any dog.

“I would often turnaround and go back home rather than carry on and get to wherever I was trying to go because I was that scared.

“The thought of ever having a dog never crossed my mind and my family were incredibly shocked when I told them about Harmony!”

Peta overcame her fears by attending a training course in Langford where she could sit in a separate room to the dogs until she felt comfortable interacting with them.

She then spent a weekend away in Essex and was responsible for looking after a black labrador puppy who she fell in love with.

“It was amazing when I started to get over my fears and the anxiety started to disappear.

“I learnt many of the crucial skills I need today in Essex and it was a brilliant weekend for me.”

There are currently over 25 people waiting for guide dogs across Bedfordshire.

To help speed up the process and to help with the costs of having a guide dog you can visit www.guidedogs.org.uk or contact Peta on 01767 318865. You can also contact Joanne Landucci, community fundrasier on 07786 800108.

Peta is putting on a 1970s disco at George’s Hall Bar and Grill on March 27 which will cost £5 a ticket and sees fundraising as a way she can give back to all those who have helped her.