Some of you may remember the daily diary I did on the Aniridia Network International Yahoo group about my guide dog training with Sandie.
That little pint sized yellow labrador is now 8 and has been working for just over 6 years. She was diagnosed with arthritis of the elbow at 4 years old and has been on Rimadyl, doggy Ibruprofen, ever since.
After the snow which fell on my wedding day and lasted 4 weeks Sandie became very slow. I decided that I needed to think about retirement so I called my local guide dog team to come out and have a look at her work and a chat.
I was anxious all day about my visit at lunchtime. It turned out that Stig (My instructor) was 3 hours late due to a 3 hour trip to HMV with someone he is on class with! I joked that he must have a good music collection now.
I decided to do the walk to the metro station as it has two hills one down
and one up. We walked through the gap in the hedge and then about 20 paces down the hill. Sandie was working slowly and I could feel her elbow going (you can’t see a limp you can just feel it in harness). She was looking around for Stig at one point so he had to walk closer as she likes to keep the pack together. As we were walking I told him I could feel her elbow going. He said he didn’t need to see any more and we went back inside for a chat.
He said she was showing that physically she cannot do the job anymore but
mentally she still wants to and therefore I needed to go on the list as a priority. Her workload had to be reduced as much as possible. We then discussed all the practical paperwork stuff and what kind of dog I would like next.After he went I got a hug off my support worker and Sandie (who also did her
head stand and gave me a big lick on the mouth!) and then my PA turned up to get her pay slip so she gave me a hug too. I shed a few tears but I also felt
relieved that at some point this year I would be able to let Sandie put her paws up. She is always so willing to work even though it is getting hard for her.
She has been with me through so much:
- We’ve lived in:
- Barnsley (2 weeks)
- Manchester (3 years)
- Hartlepool (2 years)
- Newcastle (1 year).
- We spent 2 years of living in Manchester travelling to Hartlepool and back every other weekend.
- She has been on:
- a plane to Devon
- the London Underground
- the big wheel in Manchester.
- She’s met the Mayor of Manchester She’s appeared on the front page of the Hartlepool Mail.
- She literally sat next to me through some of the darkest months of my life when I struggled for a reason to live and with what was reality and what wasn’t.
- It was also an honour for her to lead me up the aisle on my wedding day which is a dream I always had for her.
She’s got into some scrapes
- Dulcie and Sandie stole a sock off my washing line and played tug with it.
- She once dragged me unknowingly into a pet shop in Kendal and stood wagging her tail at the toys!
- She also dragged me off the bus into Wilknsons to the pet section in Salford (we had never been there before)
- and this is still her best trick being able to go to any Wilkos and find the pet section.
A few weeks later with all the paperwork complete I decided that my best chance of finding the right dog for me in the quickest time possible was to give up the harness and become a Priority 1. Priority 1’s are people who are waiting for a replacement dog but do not have a working dog. I waited 2 more weeks and received an e-mail asking me if I would consider a possible match. I will tell you more about that in my next blog post.