The experience of owning a guide dog

  • Wiggett-Barnard C
  • Steel H
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Abstract

PURPOSE: This study explored the dynamics of guide dog ownership in a South African sample. Six participants (five male and one female) from diverse socio-economic backgrounds were interviewed in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The study was performed to provide a clearer understanding of the guide dog and owner relationship, as well as the influence of the dog on the life of a person with blindness. The study also explored the current state of guide dog ownership in the uniquely South African context. METHOD: A qualitative methodology was employed to investigate the research question. All six participants were involved in structured interviewing in order to obtain the data for this study. RESULTS: Eight common themes on guide dog ownership emerged by employing a phenomenological methodology of data analysis. CONCLUSIONS: Guide dog ownership seems to be a life-changing experience, with both negative and positive consequences for the owner. Recommendations to service providers in and for the community of persons with disabilities are made in conclusion of the article, as well as suggestions given for future research on a topic of this nature.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Blindness
  • Guide dog ownership
  • Human-animal interaction
  • Psychology
  • Qualitative study

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Authors

  • Cindy Wiggett-Barnard

  • Henry Steel

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