Elaine Mackenzie named Inspirational Guide Dog Owner

Elaine with Blue Peter presenter Lindsey Russell and Jakub Kolesa of Royal Canin. Picture: comp
Elaine with Blue Peter presenter Lindsey Russell and Jakub Kolesa of Royal Canin. Picture: comp
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A COURAGEOUS blind woman who fought desperately to save her guide dog from a savage terrier attack has been honoured for her charity work.

Elaine Mackenzie, from Bonnington, was named Inspirational Guide Dog Owner in the Guide Dogs Annual Awards 2015.

The 63-year-old is so dedicated to guide dogs that she turned the horrifying 2011 attack on her beloved Una into a way to help the charity.

She bravely shared the experience with politicians and the media, campaigning to make the streets safer for people living with sight loss.

Elaine has also given hundreds of talks over the years, and has volunteered tirelessly as a collection box coordinator, information officer, campaigner and Guide Dogs Scotland ambassador.

But the grandmother-of-two revealed she was “extremely shocked” when it was announced that she had won the prestigious award.

She said: “I didn’t expect it because I had some tough opposition. It means a lot because it shows that the hard work that I have done over the years for guide dogs has been recognised.

“People ask me why I do so much for guide dogs. I do it because they have given me three fantastic dogs and changed my life, that’s why.

“Dogs have done so much for me and it I want the same for other people, to help them achieve independence.”

She also thanked her local Guide Dogs Team and Edinburgh Mobility Team, adding: “Without them none of this would have happened.”

In 2011, her guide dog Una was left bloodied and with puncture wounds to her chest following a brutal attack by a bull terrier in a Leith supermarket. The horrifying ordeal saw the guide dog owner battle frantically to free the whimpering animal from the jaws of her attacker.

Elaine revealed that the Retriever-Labrador cross, who received veterinary treatment for her injuries, is still traumatised by what happened four years ago.

“She still remembers and sometimes she cowers in towards my legs when she sees another dog,” she added.

The Guide Dogs Annual Awards ceremony took place at the London Hilton on Park Lane last Wednesday, in partnership with Royal Canin.

Blue Peter presenter Lindsey Russell and Jakub Kolesa, general manager at Royal Canin, presented Elaine with her award. Celebrities who graced the red carpet at the awards included TOWIE star Lydia Bright, presenter Vogue Williams, Formula One presenter Natalie Pinkham and comedian, writer and presenter Dave Spikey.

The Guide Dogs Annual Awards celebrates the work of the charity Guide Dogs and honours the passion and determination of those who makes its life-changing work possible.

Guide Dogs chief executive Richard Leaman said: “Our work has never been so vital. There are almost two million people in the UK living with sight loss and this is set to double by 2050. This year’s winners are truly inspirational and demonstrate that with the right support, people living with sight loss can achieve their dreams, big and small.”

john.connell@edinburghnews.com