Jun 29 2012 by Jennifer Buchanan, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
A BLIND man and his guide dog were forced to take the stand at court – after a driver knocked them down.
Robert Ferguson and his trusty aide Kent were sentflying on their way home from a shopping trip.
And the driver was this week found guilty of driving without due care and consideration after a trial.
But Robert confessed: “I was nervous about having to go to court.
“I hoped the driver would plead guilty right at the end but no such luck.
“She said she hadn’t seen us, but it was a clear morning.
“There was no wind or rain, a good hearing day I call that.
“I rely a lot on my ears so I have good hearing and there were no cars coming when we stopped at the kerb.”
And Robert, who has been blind all his life, added: “It doesn’t take me any longer to cross the road than anyone else and I was wearing a light jacket and Kent had on his reflective harness, so how could she not have seen us?
“We were nearly at the other side of the road when she hit us and Kent must have seen it was coming because he tried to pull me just before. And Kent never pulls, he’s a great dog.”
Robert and Kent were knocked down as they walked home from Heathfield Stores in Ayr.
Robert was flung onto the pavement where he hit his head, while four-year-old Kent took the brunt of the impact.
Paramedics who hurried to the scene rushed Robert to Ayr A&E where he had a gash in his scalp glued shut.
He then had to be moved to Crosshouse for a specialist to look at wounds to his ear.
Robert required 19 stitches to close his wounds.
The kind-hearted paramedics who took Robert to Ayr hospital then went out of their way for another stop – and sped Kent to the vets for emergency treatment. The labrador/retriever cross was x-rayed to check his internal organs but escaped with internal bruising.
He was kept in overnight for observation and prescribed antibiotics to ward off infections.
But just a few days later Kent was back to helping Robert again.
Robert, 57, said: “Kent is my first guide dog. I’ve had him for three years and he’s much more than just a dog to me, he’s my pal.
“The woman who trained me with him, Jen, came down from the Guide Dogs Trust to check he hadn’t been traumatised.
“Sometimes after things like this, guide dogs can refuse to work, their temperaments change.
“But Kent was absolutely fine. I walked him past the site of the accident and he never reacted at all.
“He’s such a good dog, he’s so placid.”
Robert is now just determined to move on after the accident in January this year.
He said: “No-one died that’s the main thing. We’re both still here.”
Driver Helen Knight, 54, of Prestwick’s Moor Park, was fined £250 and had three points added to her licence.