Libby Clegg: I’m going for Commonwealth gold thanks to Team Scotland’s newest member, guide dog Hatti

This news broke on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 | For more breaking news visit our news page

THE latest member of Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games has just been announced – new guide dog Hatti.


I’ve been paired with Hatti, a lab retriever cross, after applying to Guide Dogs for the Blind 12 months ago.


My condition Stargardt Disease, which has been with me since birth, gives only slight peripheral vision in my left eye.


I usually sprint with my guide runner, Mikail Huggins, who has helped me win silver in the 100m at the Paralympics in Beijing and London.


But now I’m welcoming a new team-mate into my life and he’ll be making an appearance at the Glasgow Games this summer.


I didn’t like using white cane as it made me feel quite vulnerable, especially at night.


People don’t always realise I’m blind and I’ve been getting fed up telling people: ‘I’m registered blind, can you help me please?’ when it comes to reading labels on clothes or prices on food.


I’m more comfortable being out and about now as the presence of Hatti makes it obvious I am blind and I feel so much safer and more secure.


I don’t always have to explain myself and cars stop more willingly. Hatti is amazing and already travels so well with me on trains and buses.


I’m lucky as I get to meet so many different people from all walks of life and Hatti has coped with that really well.


For their part, people are really respectful of her in return.


Officials at Team Scotland know Hatti is with me and she will be around at the Commonwealth Games but only on and off.


I don’t know if she will be at the opening ceremony as it might be a little too noisy for her.


She will also be with my family when I’m competing at Hampden as I would not be able to give her my full attention.


Otherwise she’ll be at my side and we’ve already struck up a bond. She sits at the side of the track at Loughborough when I’m training and happily curls up under the table when I’m in meetings.


I was surprised to be paired with a guide dog so quickly. As a professional athlete I walk quicker than other blind people.


However, most dogs are trained to go slower to accommodate for the lack of confidence of many blind people.


Hatti will not accompany me when I compete abroad as I’m out of the country for up to three days at a time.


There’s only one down side to my new relationship – Sunday is no longer my day of rest.


One day a week Hatti is allowed off her leash to run around and that’s on a Sunday morning.


But it’s a small price to pay for the company she provides and the confidence she gives.

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