Singapore

She's first Singaporean guide dog mobility instructor

This article is more than 12 months old

A book about working dogs, borrowed from her primary school library, ignited a passion in Ms Christina Teng to become a dog trainer.

But that was in the late 1980s and such a job was practically unheard of in Singapore.

Still, Ms Teng, who does not own a dog, never forgot her childhood dream.

Last year, she not only became a dog trainer, but also the first Singaporean certified to be a guide dog mobility instructor - someone who trains guide dogs as well as visually impaired handlers to work with and care for the animal.

"It was a journey that I never thought would happen," said Ms Teng, 40.

Her certification is warmly welcomed by the guide dog community here as the world celebrates International Guide Dog Day tomorrow.

Four years ago, the charity was looking for a Singaporean to fill the position of such an instructor.

Ms Teng went through a selection process to attend training in Melbourne, Australia.

She was so passionate about her work that she relocated her family to Australia during the two years of training. Her two children were then seven and nine years old.

The biggest support came from her husband, Mr Leonard Chin, 40, who not only encouraged Ms Teng to apply for the training, but also took unpaid leave from his IT consultant job during the two years to be with her and the children.

During training, Ms Teng learnt how to use a white cane, among other skills, for a better understanding of how visually impaired people navigate their surroundings.

Guide dogs are permitted on public transport and at eateries in Singapore.

Ms Teng has successfully trained and paired Orinda, a two-year-old guide dog from Australia, with marketing specialist Sophie Soon, 23.

There are four people on the waiting list for a guide dog now, said Guide Dogs Singapore.

Ms Teng said: "I wish to be able to support guide dog users here so that they can be empowered to step out and live their life to the fullest."

To find out more about International Guide Dog Day, go to www.guidedogs.org.sg

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