Alberto Villalba is 31 years old and travels around Teruel, his home town, safely and independently thanks to his dog Xabat. Blind and without hands since a grenade exploded in 2013 Civil war found when she was helping a neighbor to clean her garage -then she was 22 years old-, the adaptation made by the Foundation ELEVEN so that you can have a guide dog to accompany you and guard you has become a milestone for the institution and for disability in Spain.
Because Alberto is the first person in the world with blindness and more serious limitations –since not having hands complicates autonomy much more a priori– in have a guide dog to facilitate their mobility.
“Xabat”, the fundamental piece of this story, is a black Labrador retriever just over two years old who, like all those who come out of the ONCE Guide Dog Foundation,
The work behind his case was told this week at an event organized by ONCE and in which, in addition to Alberto Villalba, the mayor of Teruel, Emma Buj and the instructor of the ONCE Guide Dog Foundation, Elisenda Stewart participated. , architect of the whole process has been successful thanks to special adaptations of harnesses, leashes, itineraries and previous work with the dog, which have been added to Alberto's daily life.
Xabat, the fundamental piece of this story, is a Black Labrador retriever just over two years old who, like all those who come out of the ONCE Guide Dog Foundation, spent his first year of life with an educator family in the socialization phase and, after his return to school, he was trained in aspects of basic obedience, until last September when he began to make different adaptations aimed at the future mating with Alberto.
The tailor Emilio Asuaín was in charge of customizing the straps and the harness so that Alberto could use them, despite all his limitations
Nowadays There are more than 1,000 ONCE guide dogs that accompany blind people in Spain during their daily lives. And Asturias has a good example of the great work that is done in these training sessions. Currently, 25 guide dogs are carrying out their work in the region, "which is a very high number for a single-province community such as Asturias," they explain from ONCE. A circumstance that is attributed both to the great experience that the region has with domestic pets and to the knowledge of guide dogs. "It is a community that asks a lot for the support of guide dogs, and that is because there is knowledge of their benefit," they report from the Foundation.
Nowadays the waiting list to obtain a guide dog is long and, on average, it takes almost three years to have this support animal. A time that is expected to be shortened given that the ONCE Guide Dog Foundation is expanding its facilities in order to double the number of trained animals that leave the institution. Now there are 120 dogs that go out a year, almost all Labradors, golden retrievers and German shepherds to a lesser extent, and soon they will almost double. And one more breed will be incorporated, the labraniche, a mix between a Labrador and a giant poodle, very beneficial for people with allergies since their hair does not affect them.
"Asturias is a community that asks a lot for the support of guide dogs, and that is because there is knowledge of their benefit", they report from the Foundation.
In the unique case of Alberto Villalba, in addition to the effort made by the Foundation to give a guide dog to a young man with great limitations but a force of will worthy of all praise, it also A tailor from Madrid who confesses himself “in love with Asturias” has had a special role. Emilio Asuaín is the architect of the fact that the straps and harness, which are essential elements for Alberto Villalba to be able to give orders to "Xabat" taking into account his double amputation, are specially adapted to his case. Asiaín manufactured the material in a personalized and exclusive way for this case, with the aim of providing greater autonomy for the user, something that happens by also having straps adapted to the user's waist. "You can do all the engineering in the world, but without Alberto's motivation, nothing would be easy," admits Emilio Asuaín.