Britain's 'worst guide dog' who kept wandering off to get food finds a new home

Victoria, a four-year-old black Labrador
Meet Victoria, who’s been called ‘Britain’s worst guide dog’ (Picture: Thames Water / SWNS)
Four-year-old black Labrador Victoria is a very good dog.

But she’s an absolutely awful guide dog.

Victoria, who has been called ‘Britain’s worst guide dog’, worked to support Frankie Tipton, who is blind.

Unfortunately, the dog struggled to remember her training.

Rather than helping to guide Frankie, Victoria kept wandering off for food, suddenly stopping in the street, and once almost led Frankie off a railway platform after being distracted by another dog.
She would also nick food from bags under desks at Frankie’s workplace, Thames Water in Reading, Berkshire. Guide Dogs attempted to retrain Victoria and improve her work, but nothing stuck. It’s probably good, then, that she’s now retired – Victoria clearly wasn’t suited to her role.
Frankie Tipton with Victoria and his previous guide dog Bentley
Frankie Tipton with Victoria and his previous guide dog Bentley (Picture: Thames Water / SWNS)

But the news that’s definitely good is that the dog has now found a loving home where she doesn’t need to stress about doing a job that wasn’t right for her.

Victoria has now been adopted by Kirsty Halford, Frankie’s colleague at Thames Water.

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Kirsty had already walked Victoria on a number of occasions and agreed to adopt her ‘in a heartbeat’ after Frankie asked if she would consider it.

Victoria is already so much happier now she’s not working as a guide dog.

Kirsty said: ‘She loves the fact she doesn’t have to be walked on the lead everywhere she goes, and absolutely loves playing catch with her ball when we go out for long family walks.

‘Guide Dogs worked with Frankie and Victoria to try and retrain her and look at her behaviours, but it wasn’t meant to be.

‘It is sad, but she wasn’t enjoying being a working dog – she just wanted to be a family pet.

Victoria is loving life with Kirsty and her family.
Victoria is far better suited to non-working life with Kristy (Picture: Thames Water / SWNS)

‘It was better for his sake, and hers, that she retired early, and we’re so happy to be able to give her the life she wanted.’

Frankie hopes to be reunited with Victoria over Christmas but is keen to give her time to settle into her new home.

He described Victoria as a ‘lovely soul’ but said she had never settled as a working dog.

He said: ‘At first she was great, but she had too much free will, and would often just stop in the middle of the street – which wasn’t ideal.

Celebrate Your Pet at Every Age. Everyone loves a new puppy or kitten, says Dr. Becker. “They’re wildly kinetic, and humorous. An older pet is thinner, bonier. Their coats aren’t as soft, they might have bad breath.” But, like people, a pet’s needs change with age. They may be less active, preferring a leisurely stroll to a rollicking tug-of-war. “Our old retriever, who’s blind, still wants to retrieve.” Adapting to their changing needs will ensure your old friend remains a healthy and happy member of your family.

‘I’m on the waiting list for another guide dog but can still get around with my white cane.

‘I do miss Victoria as a family dog. I’m just so happy my friend and colleague Kirsty and her family have been able to take her on. I know all their lives will be so much happier as a result.’

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