Met Ruby Wax and wasn’t frazzled

I’m back and woof! Guide dog Fletcher here. First, I know it’s been an absolute age – a very long time in dog years – since my last blog post. So my apologies.

I’ve been guiding my human – Fiona – all over the place. Like this week, I was guiding her all over Farnham Castle for an Easter Wedding (where I got lots of fuss from the bride, Ness, and got a little excited when I met the groom, Leigh – so much so that he spilt his orange juice, oops; more about my wedding adventures in a future blog post). And, yes, earlier this year, I met Ruby Wax. I wasn’t frazzled by meeting such a star and was quite happy to guide my human somewhere new…

Ruby Wax was promoting her new book, Frazzled, shown in the photo below. Now books aren’t much good to me. I’m bright but I can’t read. Anyhow, the book was a late Christmas present for the bride and groom and it’s all about mindfulness.

Book cover of Frazzled by Ruby Wax

I didn’t understand much of what Ruby and someone called Dr Danny Penman (he co-authored the book “Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world” alongside Mark Williams) were saying. I was too busy snoozing or observing the emotional assistance dog who was sitting not far from me on their owner’s lap (now I’d love to sit on my human’s lap but I suspect I might be a bit big).

Ruby Wax and Dr Danny Penman answering questions

When it came to the end of the talk, I followed Ruby’s advice “Don’t just do something, sit there”. Well, I sat down beside her and got lots of fuss! I like it when that happens…

Me guide dog Fletcher sitting down receiving fuss from Ruby Wax

It’s great when I take my human out and about. Just love what I do. That’s it from me today. Woof and paw, Fletcher.

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, March 2016.

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Happy New Year 2016

Woof, guide dog Fletcher here welcoming you to my first blog post of 2016! Happy New Year.

How was your Christmas break? I hope it was a good one. Mine was extra special. It was my first Christmas as a fully-qualified guide dog. I spent most of the holidays at home and was in Cumbria for Christmas Eve/Day. Cumbria was very wet and thankfully where I stayed wasn’t flooded. Here in the photo, it’s Christmas Eve and I’m waiting for Santa Paws to bring me some more presents (yes, I believe in Santa Paws, don’t you?!).

Me guide dog Fletcher on Christmas Eve in front of presents

I was spoilt at Christmas. I got two new cuddly toys: ‘Fergus the frog’ and ‘Christmas pud’. Now I do like my cuddly toys. And, much of Christmas Day was spent deciding which cuddly toy to lick from my growing toy collection. In the photo and in descending size order, I’ve got ‘Elephanta’, ‘Fergus’, ‘Mr. Fox’ and ‘Christmas pud’.

Me guide dog Fletcher snuggled up against my cuddly toys

Additionally, I got something new to eat. Not sure what it was. I spent a few minutes licking it before realising I could eat it all. Then it vanished (hmmm, I wonder when I’ll get another one). Guess it made up for having to wear human no.1’s Christmas hat. I was not amused as the photo shows.

Me guide dog Fletcher wearing a Christmas cracker hat

I had a quiet start to the New Year. I reckon that I had worn out human no. 1. Well, at least I avoided the fireworks. I so didn’t like November’s frightful fireworks.

You see, I haven’t been a guide dog for long. Indeed, some six months ago, I met my humans for the first time. On 26 June 2015, I had my matching visit. It was to determine if human no. 1 and I were right for each other. I didn’t stay long. Just long enough to know the chemistry was right between us. Here’s a photo from that day. Gosh, I was a young dog in training back then.

Me guide dog Fletcher on my matching visit

It’s been such a journey. Now when I’m asked: “Who am I?“, I can reply with pride that I’m a qualified guide dog. Thank you to everyone who’s helped me – from my fab puppy walker, Di, and those who sponsored me as a puppy, to everyone at Guide Dogs. I made the grade. A double woof to that!

Me guide dog Fletcher in my guide dog harness

That said, I’m not usually asked “Who am I?”. Often, and I mean at least once a week, people will approach my human and ask “Is that a blind dog?” and/or “Are you training him?”. I know that these people are well meaning but can’t they tell from my excellent guiding that I’ve got great eyesight and I’m a professional. In case you were wondering, my human is the one who’s registered blind.

Anyway in 2015, as an assistance dog, I was having fun with planes, trains, automobiles and the odd coach.

Me guide dog Fletcher with my human in front of a Yorkshire steam train

Not to forget I was doing my bit for interspecies relations – meeting a bunny rabbit and sheep. I’ve since met cats and cows.

Me guide dog Fletcher visiting bunny Bouffe

Oh and I celebrated my birthday – I’m now two years old.

And in between, I fitted in some grooming, grooming, grooming. I like to make sure I look my best when I’m out and about accessing all areas. Naturally there’s always time for food, glorious food.

I wonder what’s in store for me this year. Maybe another wet and wonderful week or two. All I know is that I want to continue to keep my human safe with paws at the kerb™ and to make it to one year as a qualified guide dog. That’s my New Year’s Resolution. Wish me luck…

Woof and paw, Fletcher.

Thanks to all my 2015 followers. Be great if you followed this blog too. Also happy to receive pawsome comments.

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, January 2016.

Fun with planes, trains, automobiles and the odd coach

Waggy tail! Guide dog Fletcher, here, back from my mini adventures on all sorts of transport. They’ve been great fun. I know planes, trains and automobiles might not sound that exciting. But they are. Really.

As an assistance dog, I have exclusive access to many places. I got to see all sorts of planes, old and new, at Duxford Air Museum. Check out the photo with me by a Lancaster bomber. I can just imagine flying one.

Me guide dog Fletcher in front of a plane at Duxford

Trains are fun too.

I make sure my human gets safely on and off trains. We’ve only done it twice. Have to keep an eye on them as I don’t want them falling off the platform or tripping up when they’re trying to get onto a train. I even keep a look out when they’re sitting down. Just in case and like in the photo. Before fitting in a quick nap.

Me guide dog Fletcher on train floor looking up

I’ve also been on a steam train. It was during my summer holidays and I was on the Sir Nigel Gresley on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. I liked the smell of the coal dust. Great for sniffing.

Me guide dog Fletcher with my human in front of Sir Nigel Gresley steam train

Cars are wonderful for snoozing in.

I’m not so keen to jump in car boots. But riding on the back seat with my own travel seat belt (I’ll tell you more about my gadgets and accessories another time) is great. Just like yesterday in the car of my human’s friend.

Me guide dog Fletcher on car backseat

It’s grand being chauffeur-driven. I can snooze away to my heart’s content. And yes, I do snore. Only a little.

Finally, as many customer-assistance folks call my human a V.I.P. (I think it means Visually-Impaired Person or Very Important Person), I thought I could be one too. Very Important Paws. And as such, I reckoned it was time for an upgrade.

So when it came to travelling on a coach, no floor for me. The seat beckoned and up I jumped. Time to be top dog. Got a great view too. Unfortunately, no paparazzi to capture my moment of glory.

But I had forgotten that my Guide Dog trainer, Adrian, was doing some top-up training and had come along for the ride. Apparently, I was being naughty. I’m not allowed on furniture and he made sure I was soon back on the floor. It was the safest place for me. Also pretty comfortable, to be honest. And, I quickly fell asleep to the hum of the engine.

Hmmm. Bit sleepy now, come to think of it. I know I had an extra hour in bed as the clocks went back yesterday. But you can never get enough sleep. So that’s it from me, time for another snooze…

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, October 2015.