happy 2017 and when I met my mum (reposted)

Woof! I, that’s me guide dog Fletcher, made a slight boo boo. Somehow I managed to delete this post from my blog. It’s an old one. From January 2017. I don’t know how to put it back apart from re-posting it. Brings back memories…

Woof and Happy New Year from me, guide dog Fletcher!

I was up really late and saw in 2017. It was wooftastic. A pawsome photo of me was taken by my human friend, Ness (Ness is nice as she gives me fusses).

Me guide dog Fletcher sat facing you and looking attentive. My fur is golden. And at the top of the photo is written 2017. There's an overlay of multi coloured streamers and hellow confetti. @pawsatthekerb

I was so excited at Christmas to get two new cuddly toys – Barney Bear who is very big and Ragga Reindeer. Oh yes, the photo captures my wide-eyed look. How were your holidays?!

Me guide dog Fletcher head and shoulders. My head's turned towards you and you can see the whites of my eyes. In my mouth is a big brown bear and there's a reindeer toy with a red nose and ears in the background. @pawsattherkerb

Before I tell you about my mum, let me give you a pupdate on how I’m doing. I’m getting better after my surgery and building up my stamina. Still a way to go until I’m 100% fit. I guess the lead up to my surgery took its toll.

You can still see where I was shaved on my back. If you look closely (for those of you who can), you might spot my scar.

Me guide dog Fletcher well my back anyway and a bit of tail. You can just make out that my fur changes colour slightly at my bottom and there's a faint dark line (my scar) in the middle of my back and in the photo's center. @pawsatthekerb

Now my fur might look good to you. But trust me, there’s one fur layer missing on my back. It’s my guard hair. So I’ve reduced coverage for all that wet rain and I’m a bit sensitive to being touched on my back at the moment. My back’s itchy too. Very distracting.

My New Year’s resolution is to get my mojo back and to be a guide dog super star again. My future as a guide dog is still uncertain but there’s hope. I finally got some trainer help on 23 December to get back into the flow of guiding. Puppy paw steps and all that.

Ah that reminds me. I met a very impawtant dog on 30 July 2016 and didn’t get the chance to blog about it (because of all the crap stuff that kicked in after). I met my mum, Jazz, who is a beautiful black Labrador. And yes, there are a few black hairs amongst my golden ones. I also met her woofderful humans, Ginny and Andy.

I got to show off my guide dog uniform too. Here’s my mum and I. Proud moment. This is one of my favourite photos.

Me guide dog Fletcher lying down in my guide dog harness with my mum to the left of the photo. my mum is sitting and she's a black labrador. we're both looking slightly to the right. I'm smiling. Proud moment. @pawsatthekerb

Mum and I had a lot of fun. Running around and playing with each other. More so than we’ve done with any other dog. Quite a lot of mouthing too.

Me guide dog Fletcher playing with my mum. We're mouthing each other. We were gentle. My mum is a black lab and she's on the left. I'm on the right and golden in colour. It looks as if we have our lower jaws in each other's mouths. @pawsatthekerb

It’s been a very long time since we last saw each other. Over 2.5 years. The humans thought we might not know each other. But of course I’d know my mum anywhere. She’s very good at playing tug!

Me guide dog Fletcher an amongst three year old golden retriever labrador cross playing tug with my mum a black labrador. I'm on the left with my mum on the right witha duck cuddly toy being torn apart between us. @pawsatthekerb

I was a bit naughty though. I didn’t let go off the duck toy during tug. Nor did mum. So the duck toy got pulled apart. Woofy woopsie. Hope I didn’t wear out my mum. She’s now retired.

Whilst I’ve already told you a lot about me (see my “about me” and “list of posts” blog pages), I found out a lot from my mum and her humans. (By the way, her humans are also known as retired Brood Bitch Holders (BBH). My human, the fabulous Fiona, is called a guide dog owner (GDO). Why humans make life complicated with all their funny letters, I don’t know).

I found out things like my early weight. At the Guide Dog National Breeding Centre, where I was born in October 2013, I was the lightest in my litter at 0.43kg alongside two of my siblings. When I left my mum to go and live with my puppy walker, I was 2.78kg and the lightest in my litter (oh, in case you’re wondering I am now around 31-32kg). Here’s my puppy weight sheet and I’ve blanked off my siblings’ weights (data protection and all that):

Puppy weight sheet for me guide dog Fletcher and my litter. My siblings' details have been blanked off. In the table are my weights starting at my birth weight of 0.43kg, then at 3 days, 1 week and weekly intervals to 6 weeks. @pawsatthekerb

And yes, I was adorable when I was a puppy. Cue cute photos of me with my 6 brothers and 1 sister: Stanley (the eldest), Ursula, Usher, Umber, Ulan, Urwin and Uska. Can you spot me? I have a bit of nail polish on my right fore leg; carefully placed bits of nail polish are used to identify us from each other.

Me guide dog Fletcher as a puppy snoozing. No change there then. In amongst my litter siblings. We're all snuggled up against each other and it's quite difficult to tell us apart. @pawsatthekerb

And here we all are with our mum, Jazz. Feeding time. Yay, my favourite time of day.

Me guide dog Fletcher as a puppy with my brothers, sister and mum. All bar one of us are tucking into mum's milk. We're golden in colour. Mum is a black lab. @pawsatthekerb

Ok. Just one more photo of all of us.

Me guide dog Fletcher when I was a puppy. All eight of my golden siblings are lined up facing the camera leaning on the side of a box with a cuddly toy in the background. @pawsatthekerb

A big thank you to my mum’s humans and to all of you who volunteer with Guide Dogs especially those of you who look after us when we’re puppies.

Now I’m a very lucky guide dog. My human has tracked down many of my pawsome guide dog family (I didn’t come with that info). They are my sponsors Alan Fletcher and Swindon Guide Dogs Fundraisers (who I’ve met briefly and I’ll blog about later), my mum Jazz, my Golden Retriever dad Archie, my puppy walker Di, my boarder Cressi and my guide dog brother Umber (Umber and I had fun campaigning for Access All Areas). Who knows who’ll I’ll meet in 2017…

Woof and paw, Guide dog Fletcher.

P.S. As always, your pawsome comments are most welcome. May 2017 bring you much joy. And success in achieving your New Year’s resolutions. Paws crossed I achieve mine. Wish me luck…

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, January 2017. Reposted December 2017.


I’m 4! Happy birthday to me

Woof woof woof woof! I’m 4 years old. Happy birthday to me, guide dog Fletcher.

My celebrations started early. Just before 4am.

My humans were silly. They decided to put a new cover on my bed the night before. But it was too stiff and I couldn’t get to sleep properly. I woke up early needing to do a wee wee mail and let Fiona, my fabulous human, know that I needed to go out. Fiona thought it was 6.53am and not 3.53am which was the actual time. So I ended up getting an early breakfast as well. Pawtastic!

Fast-forward a few hours (after my humans went back to bed briefly) and my birthday celebrations started in earnest.

Woof, what’s in this box? It smells pawsome.

Me guide dog Fletcher, well my golden head and paw, investigating a stripy box with a red ribbon. You can just see part of the box in the bottom right corner of the photo. I'm lying on a patchwork blanket of many colours. @pawsatthekerb

Turns out it was cake for my humans to celebrate me turning four. Did I get any? No. Apparently I wouldn’t like it. I want to know who barked that nonsense.

Well, at least, I had Barney bear to play with. He’s my favourite toy. You can just make him out in the photo below.

Me guide dog Fletcher looking at you from the corner of my brown eyes. You can see my golden head and front paw in the sunlight. I'm lying down on a blanket with my cuddly brown toy next to me. @pawsatthekerb

I like to nuzzle Barney (I’m very gentle with my toys and still have a few from when I was a puppy).

Me guide dog Fletcher back again with my brown cuddly toy. It's a bear but you can't tell. I'm nuzzling it in my jaws and have my two front paws around it. The sun is highlightling my golden fur and I'm indoors. @pawsatthekerb

Time for a second breakfast. I got some yummy food in this extra large red Kong toy. It didn’t last long. Here’s a little video of me wolfing down my food. It starts in normal speed then goes into slow mo mode. You have to Go to my Twitter account to see my video of me with my Kong (you don’t need to be on Twitter to see the video).

Then I got a new toy. Fezzy the pheasant. Wooftastic.

Me guide dog Fletcher standing indoors over my new cuddly toy. It's a pheasant with brown wings and white spots, green, red and brown head. I've my mouth on the top of the head. You're zoomed in. So you get a bit of my face and front paws plus the toy. @pawsatthekerb

Now the next bit was rather confusing. My human friend Ness wished me happy birthday over the phone. She told me she had a present for me and I heard something squeaking away. But where was it?

Me guide dog Fletcher with my pink nose looking very yellow in the sunshine indoors. I'm looking up at you with a confused look. My face muscles are showing and my eyebrows are raised. @pawsatthekerb

Then I went for a walk in the Autumn leaves. All those amazing smells and impawtant messages to catch up on. Could this birthday get any better?! Oh yes. Time for a snooze…

Me guide dog Fletcher indoors disappearing amongst the blankets. My nose is buried underneath a pale brown blanket and I'm lying on a patchwork blanket of many colours. I'm snoozing. If only you could hear my snoring. @pawsatthekerb

Woof and paw, guide dog Fletcher. 

P.S. Some of you will remember that last year I spent my birthday in the charity Guide Dogs’ hospital block recovering from my back surgery. So this year’s birthday was extra special as it was at home with my humans.

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, October 2017.

I passed my MOT

Woof and waggy tail from me, guide dog Fletcher! I’ve some pawsome news to share. I passed my MOT (also known as aftercare). I had my annual test for safe guiding, kerbworthiness and satisfactory emissions and I was pawtastic.

As a guide dog, I’m responsible for keeping my human safe when we’re out and about. This is easier said than done. So the charity Guide Dogs want to make sure I’m good enough and put me to the test. They do this annually with most guide dogs.

First up, obeying commands. Fiona, my wooftastic human, told me to go forward. But where exactly did she mean for me to go?

170921 pawsatthekerb parked car chain

The pavement had split into two levels. The raised pavement to the left of me went nowhere. If I went straight on, there wasn’t much room. There was a car parked in the way and I didn’t want Fiona to hit her hand on it. I could veer in between the poles (you’d say the poles were red and white, but I’m colour blind and can’t make out the colour red). Yep, that’s the best route. Oh but wait, there’s a metal chain connecting the poles. I can go under but Fiona can’t. She’s bigger than me.

Time to go slow. 

Me guide dog Fletcher in harness at the bottom of the screen. Back of head and shoulders showing. Next to me on my right is a large grey car on the pavement. Above my head and just noticeable is a metal chain connecting red and white poles. The gap to go through is narrow. @pawsathekerb

Phew, we made it. I judged the gap pawfectly.

If the gap was too narrow, I’d have to take Fiona onto the road and round the outside right of the parked car. Dangerous, I know. That’s why the charity Guide Dogs is campaigning against pavement parking.

Next up, road crossings. Yep, here I am. Paws at the kerb.

Me guide dog Fletcher paws at the kerb. Yes. My paws are at the kerb even though you can't see them. My golden furred head is in the way. You can seen the back of my shoulders too. I'm standing in front of the road which has

I’m good at finding the button for pedestrian crossings too.

Me guide dog Fletcher. Well just my top half just beneath the pedestrian crossing button. In the background is an empty road, some pedestrians and a glass fronted office block. @pawsatthekereb

That’s the easy bit. We have to weave in and out all the other humans crossing the road.

Me guide dog Fletcher crossing a side road. I'm about a third of the way across and in front of me are a few humans. One with a wheelie suitcase. Another with a mobile phone. @pawsatthekerb

Time to turn right. Oh no, bin in the way and more humans in our path.

170921 pawsatthekerb bin humans

Hang on, Fiona, I’ll get you to where you want to go.

And so we continue.

At last, we’re on the final straight. I recognise where we are. Now gently does it, there are two children ahead playing on the pavement.

Me guide dog Fletcher guiding along a narrow pavement on a side road. There's a white parked car on the road. In front of me are two small childen, one is about the same height as the car. The other one is 30cm shorter. I've blanked out their faces. @pawsatthekerb

Finally, we make it back to the Guide Dogs offices and here’s the door, Fiona. Reckon I deserve a treat. Lots of treats.

Me guide dog Fletcher in my white Guide Dogs' harness with yellow handle. I'm standing in front of a grey office door showing my human where it is. @pawsatthekerb

Of course, it’s not all work and no play. Here am I playing with fellow guide dog Bertie, a Labradoodle, in a country park with cows and a river. Bit different to the city streets…

Me guide dog Fletcher a labrador golden retriever cross, with golden fur, having fun in a country park with fellow guide dog Bertie a golden labradoodle. We're similar sizes and ages. We're running on the lush green grass. In the background is a bench and three cows. @pawsatthekerb

Woof and paw, guide dog Fletcher.

P.S. For those of you who’ve been following this blog, my health is much better. Allergies under control. I get to see a consultant next month to make sure that niggle in my back isn’t anything serious. Paws crossed. And because of all my earlier stopping, I’ll have another MOT at the end of the year. 
P.P.S. As always, grateful for all your pawsome comments. Drop me a line…

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, September 2017.