A good day in Michele Leggott's life is when she doesn't have to think about going blind. Olive, "a big drippy golden retriever with a look of `hi everybody' on her face", does that.
A former poet laureate and academic, Leggott's degenerative eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa, is rapidly taking her sight.
Olive transformed her life. "They hand over fully trained Rolls-Royce dogs to someone who cannot drive them," she says.
A trainer with a lead on the dog shared the walks, until, one day, he quietly slipped his lead off. Leggott says it was like a dad letting go of the bike carrier when teaching a child to ride.
"The labradors and retrievers and the labrador-retriever-cross are the kind of Toyota of the fleet," she says. "They are good, easy to train, incredibly reliable. The alsatians and the poodles are the sports cars – highly strung, wonderful – but high performance cars and dogs, they take a lot of training, they reward you but they are high maintenance."