It's not often we can say that the pet of a PARALYMPIAN is dining on our food, let alone a FOUR-TIME medal-winning, world-record-breaking Paralympian who's currently training for 2020's Dancing On Ice. Libby Clegg, our new hero, will be making history as the first-ever blind contestant!
Libby, a Scottish Paralympic sprinter, has a deteriorating condition in her eyes called Stargardt's Macular Dystrophy. Yet even with only relative peripheral vision in her left eye and registered as blind, she's one of the UK's most successful Paralympic athletes and can smash a 200-meter sprint in world record-breaking time. Oh, and ice skate at a competitive level, to an audience of millions.
So as you may have guessed, the pet of such an Olympian isn't just any old pet. Hatti, Clegg's black retriever/Labrador cross, is her key to freedom and confidence in life. This remarkable guide dog, trained to lead her owner around obstacles, spot danger and hazards and identify impending kerbs and bumps, shares life with her extraordinary owner - keeping her safe with an incredible bond of trust.
Before Libby met Hatti, she encountered two close calls with electric cars - which are much quieter than a conventional vehicle. She has previously told of going out at night without her white stick as she felt there was a stigma attached to the image; this made her feel, obviously, entirely vulnerable. But along came Hatti and the game was instantly changed for the positive. Hatti, Libby claims, has given her a solid quality of life. She stated: "Without Hatti, I'm not me". And what better way to reward such a champion pooch, but with a delicious daily dinner of Vitalin Dog Food? The Hero's choice!
However, this winter, Libby will be placing her faith in a two-legged friend - professional ice dancer and fellow Scot, Mark Hanretty. The gold medal-winning sprinter has only praise for her incredible dance partner and his unwavering support and enthusiasm. As ice skating is such a visual sport, the trust bond and connection needs to match that of Hatti and Clegg, minus the waggy tail!
Who watched Libby perform her first routine and receive the highest score of the series so far?! Amazing work Libby! We are behind you all the way!
We look forward to following her journey. GOOD LUCK LIBBY!