ONE of London’s youngest guide dog owners has spoken about how the animal has "changed her life".
Louise Skinner, 18, is studying for her A-levels at Newstead Wood in Avebury Road, Orpington, and was partnered with two-year-old Teddy last summer.
Teddy, who is a golden retriever labrador cross, has helped Louise regain her independence in the capital as well as helping her attend school.
The schoolgirl, who is studying Philosophy, Politics and Maths, said: "Before I had Teddy, getting around on my own was a huge challenge but since he’s been with me he’s changed my life.
"With him around I’m never lonely, and life’s very busy now because I feel like I can go anywhere and everywhere.
"I can confidently get around London and avoid those everyday obstacles such as roadworks, recycling bins and busy footpaths.
"My sight is affected by bright lights so the brighter it gets the less I can see and during the summer I can completely lose my vision."
The dog has also proved a hit with her classmates.
She added: "My friends love having Teddy around at school, and he’s now got into a great routine around my timetable.
"I want to thank the Guide Dogs London Team for their support and would encourage any visually impaired youngster to find out more about how a guide dog can change your life."
The youngest guide dog owner in London is 15 and the eldest is 95. Around twenty owners live in Bromley.
Guide Dogs London engagement manager Rob Harris said: "When it comes to applying for a guide dog, within reason, age really doesn't matter.
"Louise is a great example of one of our guide dog owners who has been matched perfectly with Teddy.
"They have settled very well together and we know how special their partnership is. It's fantastic that thanks to Teddy, Louise's visual impairment is no barrier to her mobility."
For more information, visit guidedogs.org.uk