YOU'VE seen the guide dog,
now step up a size...to the guide HORSE.
Three-year-old Tonto is
just two feet high and is the precious eyes of his blind owner Shari
Tonto does everything the
traditional guide dog can, including taking Shari on shopping trips
and to the cinema.
But he has one big
advantage over the guide dog - a life expectancy of 40 years.
That means Shari can stick
with one animal for most of her life instead of changing dogs
several times. Tonto even has his own pair of trainers to give him
better grip on shiny floors.
Shari, who lives in
Pennsylvania, said: "A lot of people ask if he's stuffed.
"Well, he's walking and
there's no place for batteries."
Tonto, who cost £1,000,
took a year to train at the Guide Horse Foundation in North
Carolina. A similar scheme using Shetland ponies started in Britain
Dan Shaw, 45, is another of
a handful of blind people in America to choose a miniature horse
instead of a dog.
Dan, who lives in Maine,
teamed up with Cuddles in 2002 and is sold on the idea of a horse
He said: "Instead of going
through three or four guide dogs in my lifetime, I'll get to stick
with one animal."