Image copyright Dave Kent Image caption Dave Kent with former guide dog Quince and new guidebook puppy Chad

For many visually impaired people, guide dogs are a vital lifeline, bringing mobility and liberty. But when a puppy retires or succumbs the impact can be huge – as “heartbroken” politician David Blunkett disclosed, in accordance with the death of his guidebook puppy Cosby .

“It’s a wrench to say goodbye, ” says John Welsman, who is currently guided by seven-year-old retriever Breck.

“The dog becomes part of you, and also becomes a much more extensive part of your family.”

The 54 -year-old’s former guidebook dog, Dalton, retired because of old age, while another, Sorell, died abruptly after rupturing his spleen.

“It’s a difficult process leaving a bird-dog behind, ” Mr Welsman says.