March 17 2014 Latest news:
Friday, January 17, 2014
A Ipswich guide dog has picked up two awards after saving its owner and her two sons.
"I was gobsmacked. It was quite a lump-in-the-throat moment. But she’s always been a winner to me."
Emma Free nominated her dog Jazz in the Beyond the Call of Duty category at the Guide Dogs Annual Awards 2013.
And not only was Jazz top dog in that class but she was also named overall Guide Dog of the Year.
The incident that won Jazz the accolades happened when Mrs Free was out with her sons Luke, 8, and Owen, 6.
As they waited to cross a road in Ipswich Mrs Free was holding Jazz’s harness in one hand and Owen’s hand in the other. Luke was looking at the lights waiting for the green man.
Guide Dogs UK is the charity which provides seeing-eye dogs for blind and partially-sighted people.
They have been breeding and training guide dogs for over 75 years.
The charity relies heavily on the work of volunteers and donations from the public as they get no government funding.
The total lifetime cost of a guide dog is around £50,000.
Guide Dogs UK aims to create 780 guide dog partnerships this year.
They commit to providing a guide dog for life, meaning one person could have up to eight dogs in their lifetime.
Suddenly Jazz stood up and pulled Mrs Free backwards. Trusting Jazz she pulled Owen back with her and told Luke to stand back too.
Moments later a lorry mounted the kerb on the corner where the family had been standing.
Mrs Free, who suffers from the degenerative condition retinis pigmentosa, said: “One of the key things was she took me backwards and guide dogs don’t do that.
“She just got up and pulled me backwards. It was a lifesaving moment.
“I was really shocked and had I been on my own I probably would have gone home and had a good cry. I was trying to remain calm for my children.”
Mrs Free nominated her dog for the awards after someone at Guide Dogs UK said Jazz had gone above and beyond her training.
And to walk away from the event with two awards put Mrs Free “on cloud 9 for about a month”.
“I was gobsmacked. It was quite a lump-in-the-throat moment. But she’s always been a winner to me.
“We were having such a lovely time regardless and we met so many lovely people.
“It was really bizarre (when they announced the winner). Jazz came out from under the table when they announced our category.
“(After the second award) I froze for a second with tears running down my face. It was very emotional.”