First Week. Intros and explanations.

Here it is….. My first Big Blog…. my Weekly Warblings…… my Sunday Soundings.

I think it is good to do some introductions and explanations, but first, a bit of a review of this week:

The week has been mainly about getting out and about with Ma, and sometimes Pa too. We’ve been on various routes around near chuggyboathome and into town a few times; sometimes workiesing all the way and sometimes on the bus. It has all been good practice and is getting Ma and me well on the way to becoming a great team. We’ve practiced lots and lots of kerb work and shop work, as well as stairs and obstacles and dealing with some daft hoomans too (more about them later). We’ve walked a total of about 25 miles / 40 km over the course of the week.

Ma, wearing blue coat and blue-lensed glasses, sitting on steps by a shop doorway. Teddy is lying down at her feet, wearing his white Guide Dog harness. He is watching across the shop.

Waiting for Pa in a shop

The rest of the time has been about resting, obedience practice, grooming, toy-sucking and visitors. All good! I’m naturally good at the resting and toy-sucking stuff but will never turn down the opportunity for extra practice! The grooming is always nice. It is important that I look my bestest and fluffiest possible to present to admiring pub-licks. Ma seems to be getting the hang of fluffing my long silky coat and I often get compliments about my looks! The obedience practice seems to be all about going outside where I have to ‘Sit. Down. Stay’ while Ma walks away and pretends to do other things, then she comes back and I roll onto my back for maximum fuss and praise! She clearly needs lots of practice at this. I am happy to oblige!

The visitors: Well, on Tuesday, just as Ma and I were setting off for a workies, a hehooman arrived. We greeted Bob briefly, but then he went aboard chuggyboathome to find Pa and I set off taking Ma out to Tesco’s. It wasn’t the best workies we’ve experienced. It was seriously soggyfying! We got megasoaked! I was not happy! I don’t do wet! Ugh! The sky was not just dripping; It was positively squirting at us! The vroomers and big growlywheelies were sploshing even more wetness at us too! It was nasty! By the time we made it into Tesco’s my nose was hanging low with a river running off it! Before we went inside Ma asked me to do a ‘Big Shake’. I was glad to do that! It got rid of some of the drippiness! I guided Ma around the bits of the shop she wanted to go to, but she failed to allow me to take her to the important shelves! She was most insistent that we ‘don’t need doggystuff today’. I think she was seriously mistaken, but i did as bid and we went to ‘Find checkout’. The workies back to chuggyboathome was slightly less soggy but still not nice!

When we arrived, that hoomanfriend Bob was sitting at the table with Pa and, after a major towel-attack rubbadub from Ma, I got to greet him properly. Most of the rest of the day was spent snoozing while the hoomans did oooooooooodles of woofing and noshing and slurping. I was content to suck on my toys and gnaw on my antler and bones. Then, when Bob got up to get ready to leave us, I got to meet his toy! A bear named Bertie. A teddybear similar in colour to me. Ma calls me Teddybear but I don’t think I am quite the same as Bertie. Bertie has stickyup round ears and his paws stick out forwards when he sits down. I did rather hope he might be a new toy for me, but apparently not! Nemind! I have a good selection of sucky-cuddlies! Apparently, if you want to, you can read all about Bob and Bertie’s adventures if you go to www.mindfullybertie.org.uk

Teddy sitting looking sideways at Bertie the teddybear. Teddy has a quizzical look on his face. Bertie is a traditional type jointed teddybear, pale golden brown in colour, wearing a black scarf around his neck. He is sitting on blue sofa with Teddy beside him.

Teddybear meets Bertiebear

I’ve had a couple of rather lovely freeruns this week, in amonst all the hard work. It is always good to let my fluff down! Ma seemed a bit relieved that I managed both of these without giving myself a mudpack! Well….sometimes it’s just not worth the kerfuffle of getting cleaned up afterwards!

Now – some explanations:

  1. BONES. I have been asked to explain that Guide Dogs don’t usually get bones from a butcher. We are allowed smoked or sterilised shank bones or something called nylabones, from a pet shop, Some of us are allowed antlers too, but hooman opinions apparently vary on these. These are all just good for having a gnawing session. It seems I was a very lucky boy because I got a butcherbone from Ma. She says that this was because I was having something called analglands issues. It seems this is what the hoomans call itchybotty when I was making use of the ground to have a bit of a scrape of my important end. Ma says that my predecessor, Oakley, used to get the same itchybotty problem and he got regular butcherbones to sort it out, under instructions from a vet. So, when I did the bottyscooty thing, and had a bit of a niff about me, she got me a bone, thinking it was a good idea to sort out my ‘problem’ and save a vet visit. (My secret has been told that when I was a pupster, I had to have a very undignified procedure from a vet to deal with this. Ma was trying to avoid the need for this again.)
  2. GROOMING. Now this is a very important part of being a Guide Dog, even for short-haired colleagues. For me it is even more important because I am very fluffy and don’t want to get all tangly-tatty. For all of us though, it is necessary to make sure we look smart and professional at all times, but perhaps more importantly, to make sure we are as clean and tidy as possible for going into all the places we go; shops, hooman-nosheries, hoomanvets, hoomankennels etc etc. We can’t help but leave a few of our beautiful fibres behind us but we don’t want to be leaving any more than necessary. it seems that some hoomans don’t appreciate having their floors covered in black or gold haze! So, we should all be groomed everyday. Grooming is rather a nice daily happening – it is like fuss-with-a-massage!
  3. FREERUNS AND RECALL. I will tackle both of these subjects together because they are rather linked anyway.
    A lot of hoomans think that we Guide Dogs never get to have fun because we are always working, but that is so not true! We get lots of downtime to relax and we get two or three freeruns each week. These are the times when most hoomans don’t even realise we are Guide Dogs becaue we’re not in harness; we just look like any normal dog having a great time hooning around a park or field or woodland. Actually, we don’t just look like a normal dog; we ARE normal dogs! These freerun times are our times to be just that: Dogs! Running and sniffing and rolling and chasing and exploring……. We work hard and we also play hard too!
    At the beginning of a freerun, we have to go through a bit of a routine of ‘obedience practice’. This is when the harness is removed (if we have worked to get to the freerun place – sometimes some of us get to ride in a vroomer to get there). We have to do a ‘Sit. Down. Upsit.’ routine, then get a munchie before the lead is unclipped and we get that bestest command: ‘Go Play!’ I LOVE that command and have no hesitation in obeying!
    During freeruns, we have to do something called ‘Recall practice’ from time to time. This is where our hoomans toot a tooter with a tooot toooot toooot and we come running back for a munchie! It always makes our hoomans all smiley when we come galloping back toward them! We all like to let them think we are simply being obedient to their tooting, but actually, we are running back to check up on them! The munchie is a bonus! This recall thingy is linked with our din dins routine too. When our hommans put our nosh down in our bowls, we have to do a ‘sit’ and wait until we get the tooot toooot tooot command. Then we can tuck in. The Guide Dogs hoomans do it this way right from our tiniest puppydays, so that we dogs associate the toot toot toot with getting tummy-fillers! We all like that toot toot toot!
  4. DAFT HOOMANS. Now! This is a whole big subject, which I may tackle in different ways in blogs over coming weeks. For this week, I shall simply cover the happenings of recent days.
    Please folks, do share and spread the message.
    No matter how cute or gorgeous or adorable or wonderful….. we Guide Dogs look when we are working – please respect that we are doing just that; WORKING! Our work is very important. We have the safety of our hooman charges in our paws!! We know that we are rather splendid and we quite like to be reminded of it, but actually it is not helpful! It is hard for some of us to resist some of the noises that hoomans make to attract our attention. Sometimes, it is a clicking noise that hoomans do with their mouth, sometimes a sort of sucking-squeaking thing, sometimes a clicking of their pawsticks, or a slapping of their paws onto either the other paw or onto the top of their backleg. Some even hold out munchies for us. Now that is very hard to resist! But, all of those things are actually breaking our concentration on our job! We do concentrate very hard on our job and it only takes a tiny break in that focus to put us and our hooman charge in danger.
    Some hoomans seem to think they need to feed us. Well, the thing is…..we pooches love to munch! After all, we are dogs first and foremost! However, some of us have delicate tummies and so mustn’t have unauthorised snacks. If we do, then it could put us in the poorly house and therefore unable to work for a while. That would mean that our hoomans would be in difficulties too. But, even it we are made of toughtummy-stuff, we have to assure everyone that we are really well fed and looked after, and we are not supposed to have any hooman nosh of any kind. Indeed, we shouldn’t have anything that is not given to us by our hoomancharges.This week, Ma has counted about three incidents per day of hoomans doing daft things toward me: Most of them just trying to get my attention by making noises at me. I have been a good boy and have ignored them and kept my concentration on my job, but I can never resist at least a quick look in their direction. It could be in that moment of quick look that I could miss a hazard or make a mistake and guide Ma into something.
    There have been a few times when hooman front paws have reached out to give me a quick stroke or ear-rub, or tickle on the bum, as we go past. One really daft shehooman even reached across in front of Ma to fuss me as we were walking along. Ma ended up going bump into her and she wasn’t too pleased!
    When we were in a shop, in the zig-zag kyooing thingy, Ma had got me to ‘Sit’ nicely while we waited to move forward. A daft hooman came up behind us and made me get up and turn around to receive the fusses they were calling to me for. Now…I know I am adorable and irresistible, and I simply can’t resist taking in such admiration, but, when Ma is working hard on getting me to behave like a proper gentleman, she gets a bit naffed off when I get distracted like that!
    There was one hehooman who made Ma really growly! I had done my duty and taken Ma to a bleepycrossing. I got my munchie dispensed by the bleepybox (hoomans like to think that I am daft enough to think that the box dispenses it – I know perfectly well that it comes from Ma’s pocket though!), and I was in a good boy ‘Sit’ waiting for the bleeps so we could ‘Forward’ across the road. This hehooman was standing beside me on my left, and he was munching some crunchy things from a noisy little bag. He gave one to me. It was delicious! But Ma was NOT impressed! She told him off for feeding and distracting a working dog, especially at a road crossing!
    Now, I am a dog – first and foremost. I am a working Guide Dog professional of course, but still, I have doggy instincts first, and those instincts make me gladly accept any such offered edible! I, personally, don’t understand the problem. Of course I don’t! I’m a dog! However, hoomans like Ma and all the Guide Dogs trainers say that it is very dangerous to do things like this. It takes our minds off our jobs and it might make us very poorly.
    So, with this in mind, I have to ask you all to share the message that it is not a good thing to do. In fact, it is a very bad thing to do.

I think that will do for this week’s lessons. I will try to include some educational stuff each week from now on and I hope that you find it interesting and will pass on the messages to any hoomans you know. It is all important stuff.

Now….talking of important stuff…..I have some snoozing to practice! Please excuse me!

Teddy sitting amongst a big patch of daffodils. He is looking toward the left hand side of the picture with a 'smile' on his face. In the background are lots of trees

Daffodils make you smile

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