Saturday, November 2, 2019

Six Years Together: My Guide dog and I

We originally met on October 21, 2013. Almost two weeks later on November 2, 2013, Leif, my black Labrador guide dog and I graduated from guide dog school in San Rafael, California.
William, in check shirt and Leif a black labrador sit in our garden on November 2 2019. Their sixth anniversary after graduation from guide dog training.
William and Leif Today

Today, it is November 2, 2019. Six years to the day since our graduation. What a wonderful experience it has been working with a guide dog like Leif.

Working with a guide dog is not easy. Sometimes it can be a battle of wills. That discarded burger paper on the floor needs testing, people want to pet him, people have even grabbed him as we crossed the street. The blade of grass that smelled so good yesterday may carry yet more pee-mail messages today. He did well ignoring yet another distraction, but does he really deserve fifteen dog treats in a two minute walk to the bus stop.

All these matters might crop up anytime. They tell you about some of them at guide dog training. Many they don't tell you about.

One of the first things I learned at guide dog school was how to take care of my dog.

A guide dog is a working dog. First and foremost he is my eyes, plus an extra set of ears. My life can depend on him several times per day. So I need to look after his every day needs and keep him healthy.

You can tell Leif, is healthy. Just looking at his coat. Black, thick and glossy. His eyes are bright and intelligent, he misses very little in his environment and at seven and a half years old his ability to walk is not impaired by rheumatism or arthritis. Everyday he receives a few drops of salmon oil in his food.

People often comment on how good his coat looks and feels. I often allow people who ask to pet him a chance to stroke him. It is always nice to hear how the grooming he gets everyday feels to others. Plus when people ask how I keep him looking so healthy, I can tell them about his care. An occasional egg mixed in his food. High quality food and a spritz of salmon oil.

Working with a guide dog everyday is an adventure. I never really know what is going to happen to us. People are drawn to these working dogs. Walking with a long white cane rarely caused anyone to speak to me. I could go through my day without anyone speaking to me. It was lonely going out. With Leif by my side people do talk with me. I am never lonely with Leif by my side.

I love every moment with Leif, my black Lab guide.

Has there ever been a Guide Cat for the Blind?  Read more