This Morning viewers were delighted today after a blind six-year-old boy told how he’s become best friends with an adorable Golden Retriever.
Rubin Hellier-Smith, from Crickhowell, south Wales is registered blind and was matched with three-year-old ‘buddy dog’ Vesper through Guide Dogs Cymru last autumn.
Vesper has undergone guide dog training, but was ‘too friendly’ and so joined the Buddy Dog scheme, which matches animals to children with sight loss to help develop their self-confidence.
Mum Eve, 31, and sister Molly, eight, appeared with Rubin on the ITV show today, with viewers praising the ‘lovely family’ and hailing Vesper the Golden Retriever ‘adorable’.
Rubin Hellier-Smith, from Crickhowell, south Wales is registered blind and was matched with three-year-old ‘buddy dog’ Vesper through Guide Dogs Cymru last autumn
Vesper has undergone guide dog training, but was ‘too friendly’ and so joined the Buddy Dog scheme, which provides children with sight loss with animals to help develop their self-confidence
‘He’s very over friendly,’ said Eve. ‘He loves to stop on walks to get attention from passers by. He also if you take him for a long walk he just decides he’s not ready to go home.
‘He will stop and will not move, you can try treats, you can try anything and he’ll just sit down and not come. He didn’t quite make it to be a guide dog, which is great for us, because it meant we had the opportunity to have him.’
Viewers were overjoyed by the segment, with one writing: ‘Dogs are absolutely incredible.’
Another said: ‘This is the reason why you should adopt a guide dog. They change people’s lives for the better.’
Viewers were delighted by the segment, praising the ‘lovely family’ and hailing Golden Retriever Vesper ‘adorable’
A third commented: ‘Dogs are so special, especially guide dogs and buddy dogs. So clever.’
Rubin has Nystagmus – a condition which causes involuntary, uncontrollable eye movements. He is also registered blind.
‘Because he has vision only in one eye he struggles a bit with depth perception, stairs and slopes and things, but it doesn’t stop him,’ said Eve.
‘I noticed early on there was something wrong with his eyes. They were slightly different, but it took a while to get the doctors to listen.
‘My mum noticed a few weeks later, she also thought there was something not quite right so we pushed it at the doctors and that’s when they realise and then they didn’t think he didn’t have any vision at all’.
A blind six-year-old boy has become best friends with an adorable Golden Retriever who has given him the confidence to go on long walks and explore mountains with his family
The pair, pictured at home, enjoy hikes and walks in the Brecon Beacons – which is on the doorstep of their home in Crickhowell, south Wales
Rubin, pictured with his sister Molly, eight, and Vesper, three, has Nystagmus – a condition which causes involuntary, uncontrollable eye movements
Rubin was born with delayed visual maturation, meaning his eyes took longer to mature and the little boy didn’t have any vision until he was one.
Vesper joined the family in October after single mum Eve applied once the buddy scheme became available in her area.
She explained that while Vesper can become distracted by friendly passers by, he always does his best to navigate while on walks with Rubin.
‘When we’re out and about he’s really good at navigating and he will guide you around things or take you through a gap that’s too narrow, but if you take his jacket off he reverts back’, said Eve.
The mum previously revealed it took four months from applying to have Vesper joining the family.
With his mum Eve, 31, and sister Molly, eight, Rubin loves to explore the outdoors, with Eve explaining that the addition of Vesper to the family has seen Rubin’s confidence grow. Rubin and Molly are pictured with Vesper
‘The scheme is amazing’, she said. ‘It gives children and young people with visual impairments an incredible friendship and independence as they get older. We had lots of advice and support.
‘Vesper helped to keep all our spirits up during the winter lockdown. We took him out daily so he helped keep me motivated.
‘He loves his long walks with us and when we are at home, he cuddles up to Rubin on the sofa. They are best friends.
‘Vesper has settled in better than we could have imagined, we initially had him for a trial period but he really has made himself at home.’