Aug 10, 2013

Guide dog and owners fall in love

Guide dog and owners fall in love
Claire Johnson, 50, and Mark Gaffey, 52 fell in love soon after their dogs Rodd and Venice did. The couple are planning to get married next spring.
Guide dog and owners fall in love. A blind couple is engaged to be married after their guide dogs became an item during a guide dog training course.

Claire Johnson first met Mark Gaffey after their guide dogs immediately ran to each other while attending a two-week training course for guide dogs. Their dogs, Rodd and Venice, instantly took a liking to one another and were reportedly inseparable during the course.

"During the training out two dogs, Rodd and Venice, seemed to know something we didn't," Gaffey, 52, told the Telegraph. "They were always playing together and nuzzling up together."

Gaffey says even the trainers noticed the attraction between the two dogs and said that they were the "love and romance of the course."

At the end of the training course, Johnson, who lost her eyesight at 24 because of diabetes, says she made the first move and invited Gaffey and Rodd out to coffee.

"We connected straight away," Johnson, who is now 50, said. "I remember Mark texting me saying 'If you'd let me I could make your world a lot happier'."

A dog play date turned into many more meetings, each one lasting longer and longer.

"Each time we met the lunches were getting longer and the waitresses were tapping their fingers waiting for us to leave," Gaffey said.

Before long, they were falling in love. Gaffey decided to propose to Johnson on camera for the British ITV show 'Me and My Guide Dog'. Gaffey had to propose four times before the camera crew had the right shot.

"It was a lovely surprise when he proposed the first time on Valentines' Day, but I got proposed to four times that day because he kept going down on one knee," Johnson said.

And she gives all the credit of their romance to their two lovelorn dogs.

"I suppose I can never say I will forget the day I got engaged. And it wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for our dogs," Johnson said.

She says that Rodd and Venice are still very much in love — sleep in the same bed together and "are as much as a couple as me and Mark."

Although Gaffey says he doesn't believe in fate, he thinks it is a big coincidence that both he and Johnson signed up for the same course and he thinks it was meant to be.

"We could have easily missed one another by a week because it was a residential course and we just happened to be put on the same one," Gaffey said. "It's ironic we met there because we discovered that we only lived a mile-and-a-half away from each other but had never met. We were purely in the right place at the right time.

The couple plans to get married next March and the dogs will play a special part in the ceremony.

"They will be walking us down the aisle and be ring bearers," Johnson said. "This wedding is down to them."