My first music gig

Woof again from me guide dog Fletcher! Hope you’re all pawsome and are enjoying good weather?! I’ve been out and about all over the place since I blogged last. I’ve been to my first music gig. It was called “Common People”. It was pawtastic and in a grassy park [which is really good for me as I love smelling the grass].

I excelled in my guiding. I knew exactly where to guide my human, the fabulous Fiona. She knew the vague direction she needed to go but that was it. I was in charge of navigation.

We weaved in and out many times. There were lots of people everywhere in all sorts of clothing.

Me guide dog Fletcher, well the back of my head and shoulders in the right hand corner of the photo. The rest of the photo are the legs and upper bodies of men. Some are wearing shorts and trainers, others jeans, some have ripped t-shirts on. @pawsatthekerb

And more people.

Me guide dog Fletcher once again guiding through the crowds. You can see the back of my head and shoulders in the far right corner of the photo. The rest of the photo shows men and women from the shoulders down. Most of them are wearing shorts which are different shades of brown. Many of the t-shirts are shades of blue. @pawsatthekerb

Human no. 2, also known as Andy, could just about keep up with the two of us. He wanted to stop and ask the way. But I cracked on. I knew, somehow, that I had to head to accessible viewing platform. 

Once I got my humans to where they needed to go, I decided it was time to snooze.  I’m very good at snoozing.

Me guide dog Fletcher part in the sun and shade. The sun bringing out the shades of my golden fut. You've got a head shot of me snoozing. I'm resting on big teddy and the leg of my human is just in shot. @pawsathekerb

My humans enjoyed themselves in the sunshine listening to the music.

Head shots of my humans in the sun against a blue sky with a flag in the background. One white male with glasses and dark brown hair. One light brown woman wearing dark glasses. Her hair is glack and she's in white and blue with a red bag strap showing. Both are smiling at the camera. @pawsatthekerb

The music had a good beat and seemed quite tuneful. I’ve no idea who was playing. Everyone at the gig seemed happy and many danced to the music.

My view of the Common People stage. The stage is rectangular and in the distance surrounded by flags and green trees. Most of the photo are people of different ages standing with their backs to the camera in the sunshine. @pawsatthekerb

Whilst the loud music didn’t seem to bother me, my humans kept a close eye on me in case it was too much. I spent most of the time snoozing. Though every once in a while I popped my head up to say hello. And to check if it was time for a treat.

Me guide dog Fletcher a golden fur Labradaor Golden Retriever cross. Well my head looking up to camera. You can just make out my body between the jean covered legs of my human. I'm on a viewing paltform and in the background is a water box and my Guide Dog harness. @pawsatthekerb

After a while, it was time to go. And I guided brilliantly on the route back taking my humans to the exit, which was different to where we came in, with very little direction. Somehow I just knew where I was going. My humans were pretty clueless.

We passed lots of people. Weaving in and out again. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to snaffle all the lovely food abandoned on the grass. Too busy focusing on keeping my human safe.

Me guide dog Fletcher. Just the back of my head and shoulders. I'm guiding my human to the right as there's a group of people in front of us sat on the grass. To the left of me are more people. These people are dressed in shorts, trainers and t-shirts. @pawsatthekerb

I was pawtastic! Even if I do say so myself. And I got lots of fusses for being so good.

Now unfortunately that was one of the few times that I have been paw perfect in the last two and a half weeks. Can’t quite put my paw on it as to why that is. I seem to have disrupted my guiding flow. Fiona, my human, is being very patient with me and continues to use positive reinforcement techniques.

On Sunday, I got to guide in my new harness for the first time (more on that later) and it feels good. I think my back feels better for it. Dog osteopathy and follow-up with the vets next week (if you’re new to my blog, see my earlier blog posts about my back surgery via my list of blog posts page). Hopefully the vet will allow me to play fetch again and have longer playtime in the park [running around, twisting and turning is soooo good for me, woofy smile]. Wish me well in getting my guide dog mojo back…

Woof and paw, 

Guide dog Fletcher. 

P.S. Found out that Stanley, my brother (see my guide dog family post), is back with Guide Dogs. They’re making sure he’s in tip top shape and up to speed with the latest guiding techniques before matching him with a new guide dog owner.

P.P.S. Thank you to every human and four paws following my blog. You’re very impawtant to me. And I love your comments. If you’re not following, then don’t miss out. Follow me…

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, May 2017.

Getting MPs support for #AccessAllAreas for guide dogs

Woof and here’s my #FletcherFriday blog post!

Let me first say that I woke up to some barking news this morning. I can’t believe we’re leaving the European Union. I’m in shock (and lying down as a result). Challenging times ahead…

To the topic of access for guide dogs. Last month, I blogged that I was off to the Houses of Parliament to lobby for #AccessAllAreas. Whilst it’s the law to let guide dogs like me into restaurants, shops and taxis, many of us are getting turned away. So I joined 100 fellow guide dogs, and their humans, to get MPs to take action on access refusals. Here’s a photo of us:

Many guide dogs and their humans in several rows in front of Big Ben and Houses of Parliament
Photo credit: Guide Dogs charity

Let me share how the day went. Now, having made it all the way to London, I really needed to go (yep, that kind of go). And what better place to go than on the lawn outside Westminster. In my defence, it was the only grass area available.

As soon as I had finished then it was lights, camera, action. We were approached by a Channel 4 News crew and the delightful Emily Davison, with her guide dog Unity. They interviewed my human. Afterwards, it was off inside the Houses of Parliament.

I had a starring role. My human – the fabulous Fiona – and I were one of four ‘Access All Areas’ case studies. Guide Dogs had made our story into a mini-poster.

Me guide dog Fletcher and my human Fiona sitting on a bench with lots of text describing case study

[As there’s a lot of text on the mini-poster – too much for the alternative text description box – go to this page for the case study text].

I met the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP, alongside two fellow guide dogs, Guide Dogs’ Chief Executive and a few other humans. The Minister seemed to make agreeable noises; I was snoozing most of the time. We presented him with a petition of almost 50,000 signatures asking for action on access refusals.

Then I met my MP who was really supportive of the ‘Access All Areas’ lobby and I got fusses. The humans did a lot of yapping.

Me guide dog Fletcher getting fusses from my MP, and on the right my MP, my human and I inside Westminster Hall

Additionally, I met my younger brother, Umber. In the photo below, I’m the handsome one on the right in case you’re wondering. We gave each other the run around too (a little naughty, I know, as we were in our Guide Dog harnesses). I think we last saw each other when we were 6 weeks old.

Me guide dog Fletcher on the right with my brother Umber on the left with humans' legs in background

There were so many meet and greets to be had. After all, it was woofderful that 100 guide dogs got together. I was somewhat distracted (I tried to be good, honest). Thank you to Guide Dog volunteers, especially Darren, Steve and Nicole, who helped out us on the day.

In the big photo finish, I got a kiss from ITV This Morning’s guide dog puppy in training, Clover. Pawsome!

Me guide dog Fletcher on the right sitting down getting a kiss from This Morning's Clover

Lastly and to my delight, I was on TV in the evening. It seems that the Channel 4 News crew liked us and Emily Davison did a great job reporting.

Me guide dog Fletcher looking to the right and seated on TV. Yes TV!

The whisper is that Fiona, our MP, Guide Dogs and our city council are putting something together locally as a result of this lobby. Plus Andrew Gwynne MP is championing an ‘Accessibility Bill’, as a private members’ bill, which could make it compulsory for taxi and private hire drivers to have disability awareness training. It’s early days. And I’ll keep you posted on this impawtant topic.

Woof and paw! Guide dog Fletcher.

P.S. Thanks to all of you following my blog. If you don’t follow my blog, do join them. As always, feel free to leave me a pawsome comment…

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, June 2016.

Off to Houses of Parliament to lobby for #AccessAllAreas

Woof woof! I’m guide dog Fletcher and I’m wagging my tail as I’m putting together this blog. I’m excited. On Wednesday 25 May, I’m off to the Houses of Parliament to join 100 guide dogs lobbying for “AccessAllAreas”.

As a guide dog, I get to take my human – the fabulous Fiona – all over the place. You might remember when I met Ruby Wax on her book tour and travelled on weird and wonderful transport. I get to access all areas. It’s the law in the UK.

Refuse ME access when I’m working, you must be joking! The photo of me laughing just says it all.

Me guide dog Fletcher laughing at the camera at the thought of being refused access

But, sadly, it’s no laughing matter. Despite it being illegal, guide dogs get turned away from shops, restaurants and taxis.

I’ve met restaurant staffs who weren’t welcoming. One time I heard them say: “No dogs allowed. You have to leave”. Even when my human replied: “My guide dog and I are allowed in because it’s the law”, the staff continued to refuse us access. Despite my human feeling hurt (we guide dogs are good at picking up on these things) we stood our ground, only to have a waiter say: “We can’t have the dog – what would our customers think?”.

Eventually, we were seated behind a wall at the back of the restaurant. Despite being treated so poorly, we stayed – if only to prove to the restaurant staffs that having a well-behaved guide dog like me on the premises was no bad thing.

You see I’m so good when I go out with my human. I’m a professional. Here, in the photo, I’m snoozing at “Mr Fogg’s Residence” whilst my human enjoyed a celebratory afternoon tea with our friend, Ness; (snoozing is hard when there’s so much going on and tempting food is wafted past).

Me guide dog Fletcher doing what I do best snoozing

Occasionally, I might pop up to say hello and remind my two humans, when they’re eating, that I’m being good – just like in the picture below.

Me guide dog Fletcher popping up between the legs of my two humans

It’s horrible and illegal when guide dogs are refused access. That’s why I’m off on Wednesday to join 100 guide dogs at the Houses of Parliament and hand in a petition to MPs asking them to take action on access refusals. To strengthen the law. To ensure tougher sentences for taxi and private hire drivers who refuse access to us guide dogs and other assistance dogs.

Please sign Guide Dogs’ petition – there’s still time and it’ll be pawsome if you do.

Woof and paw, Fletcher!

P.S. Thanks to all of you following my blog. If you don’t follow my blog, do join them. Alternatively, leave me a comment to let me know you’ve signed the petition.

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, May 2016.