I’m home

Woof, woof and woof again from me, guide dog Fletcher! Why all the excitement?! Well, I’m home.

Me guide dog Fletcher head and front paw only. I'm snoozing looking to the right in a red T-shirt under a cream blanket and nuzzled against a green cuddly toy. And I'm home. @pawsatthekerb

Wasn’t that long ago I was rocking this T-shirt look at Guide Dogs Redbridge Hospital Kennels just after my back surgery (photo below). That’s why there was a slight pause at paws at the kerb™.

Me guide dog Fletcher sitting looking at you in a bright red T-shirt. I'm on a white bed with nylabones around me. The walls are brown tiles. @pawsatthekerb

Waggy tail for all your get well soon wishes. Licks to all my new blog followers. And soppy kisses (or nose-bumps as my bunny friends prefer) to my regular readers. Knowing you are there for me means a lot.

Talking of kisses. My “kissing spine” and I even made it into Forest Vets’ newsletter. Forest Vets are Guide Dogs Redbridge’s authorised vets. Here’s the pawsome bit all about me:

Me guide dog Fletcher upside down in a CT scanner which is a white donut. I'm on the bed with tubes attached and my nurse and vet are nearby. There's also an CT scan of my kissing spine. The text says: Forest Veterinary Centre Winter Newsletter 2016. New CT Scanner. Clive, Paul and Glenn have been taking our first CT scans with some very impressive results. These pictures show a working Guide Dog in the CT scanner. The dog had been experiencing back pain. The image shows the spinous processes (the sticky up bits!) are touching. This is called a "kissing spine". This is not what Clive was expecting. The god will now have an operation to resect the spinal bones that are causing the pain. All being well, the Guide Dog will be back working with his blind partner as soon as he is recovered from the operation. Posted in pawsatthekerb.

Whilst the Guide Dogs Hospital Kennels staffs were lovely, I missed my fabulous human, Fiona. I missed my belly rub technician, Andy. Then after 6 weeks away, I saw my humans again. I forgot that I had a sore back and went crazy.

I’m home now. It’s woofderful.

For the first time in months, I can snooze on my back. For us dogs, it’s impawtant to take-up as much room as possible and get into the most awkward sleeping positions. Multi-tasking is also good. So whilst I’m lying here, I’m happy to receive belly rubs. Anyone?!

Me guide dog Fletcher snoozing on my back. Belly exposed ready for a belly rub. I'm wearing a white T-shirt and there's a red cuddly toy poking out from under me. @pawsatthekerb

I’ve also got a new bed (the Piggy Bank was raided – poor Miss Piggy – and my new bed’s got something called memory foam). It’s vast and has a very comfy head rest. Here let me show you.

Me guide dog Fletcher looking at you. My head and right leg are visible only. My head is resting on the brown bolster of my bed and I'm looking serious. @pawsatthekerb

I’m getting better each day. Be a couple more weeks before I’m allowed my free run in the park and to catch-up on all my wee wee notices.

My future as a guide dog is a little uncertain though. As per the vets’ orders, I’m currently on light duties building up to full working. But I need a little help so my guiding is really good and I don’t stop unexpectedly. To be honest, I needed help a while back. My humans are on the case but it hasn’t been easy for them getting others to help us (I may even tell you all about it in a blog post).

While my humans and I are waiting for help, I’ll just have to double-check that my new bed is properly squidgy.

Time for another nap… 

Woof and paw, Guide dog Fletcher.

P.S. I’m hoping to get in another blog post this month. Probably tell you about my doggie family. Make sure you don’t miss it by following my blog. As always, your pawsome comments are most welcome.

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, December 2016.

Slight pause at paws at the kerb…

Woof, did you miss me the last couple of months?! I’m back (well, almost). Let me, guide dog Fletcher, share with you what’s been happening. Oh, by the way, I’m bringing you this bumper edition blog post whilst rocking my new T-shirt look. Like my photo?

Me guide dog Fletcher rocking my new T-shirt look. I'm standing looking at you with my two front legs and back in a dark blue T-shirt. pawsatthekerb

It’s been a while since I last blogged and celebrated my one year anniversary as a guide dog. Yet, around that time, things weren’t right. Couldn’t quite put my paw on it and, little by little, I struggled to guide my fabulous human, Fiona.

When Fiona asked another human for help in late August, things started to go from okish to bad. That human, whom I trusted, really let us down. And other humans, who were meant to help us, didn’t. Come late September, my partnership with Fiona was under threat. The whole thing’s been barking. But not in a good way. (Oh, there was one good thing that happened during this horrible tale. My litter brother, Umber, lent me his human for the day and that helped. Got some tips and tasty treats). But I won’t share too much now on the whole sorry saga. It’s still ongoing(if I get bribed with treats, I’ll probably tell you more in another post). 

Anyway by now, something else was also bothering me. My back.

Me guide dog Fletcher standing side on with my head turned to you. I'm wearing a "my back is hurting me" look. pawsatthekerb

And yes, I know the photo isn’t a grand one of me. My back was hurting.

Thankfully my human, Fiona, understands me and she got my subtle communications (others more experienced in doggie woofs didn’t and that surprised me). So Fiona, and Andy – a.k.a. human no.2, whisked me off to the vets on the last day of September. Drugs, rest, more vet reviews, general anaesthetic and x-rays followed.

I tried snoozing like in the photo below. Snuggly. But that only helped a little.

Me guide dog Fletcher. Well just my head. Snoozing with my nose up close and personal. pawsatthekerb

I didn’t like the drugs. I kept being sick in the early hours of the morning. One time, I ended-up back at the vets and on a drip all day. Here’s the photo of me looking pale and groggy on the back seat of the car coming back from the vets.

Me guide dog Fletcher lying down on the car seat dark blue cover. Wearing my car harness and looking at you. I'm a little pale and groggy coming back from the vets. pawsatthekerbI just wanted to get better.

One day, I knew something was up. But wasn’t sure what. Fiona took a photo of me at home with my cuddly toys (in case you’re wondering they are Big Teddy which pre-dates Fiona, Chin chin panda and Elefanta); photo below. Fiona and Andy then took me on a road trip (for those of you who like details, I’ve been told it was on 24 October).

Me guide dog Fletcher when I was last home. I'm lyding down on a piece of vet bed with my cuddly toys next to me. They are a cream teddy bear, black and white panda, and grey elephant with pink ears. pawsatthekerb

Next thing I knew I was put into a dog pen next to more dog pens with lots of guide dogs and guide dogs-in-training barking hello to me. I was so excited that I forgot myself. I wee’d on the bedding (oops! And kind of pawsome). Don’t think you can tell in the photo below. I had arrived at Guide Dogs Redbridge, Essex.

Me guide dog Fletcher sitting down in a dog pen with a purple bed and red blanket behind me. pawsatthekerb

And I’m still here. 

Well, I did get moved to the exclusive Hospital Kennels. I do so miss my humans, Fiona and Andy. And I don’t understand why they’ve not visited me. Makes me sad thinking about them.

The Guide Dogs Redbridge Hospital Kennel humans have been woofderful. Carole and Clare especially. Lots of fuss and cuddles from them. Also Kerry, Laura and Tim. Apparently they talk to Fiona a lot as I get given an extra cuddle from her every time they speak. Oh, and thanks to them, I get to share some photos of me “away”.

I spent what the humans called a “birthday” in Hospital Kennels. I got some chicken and shared it with my new doggie friends. Waggy tail (and a lot more wagging if I’m honest). Apparently I turned three. I almost got to blow out my three candles but one of the humans had other plans. Here’s a photo from that day:

Me guide dog Fletcher. Well the head and shoulders bit of me. Staring intently at a silver dog bowl with chicken bits and 3 lit candles. Pale cream tiles of my kennel in the background. pawsatthekerb

More snoozing and treats followed. I could get used to this. Here I am wolfing down the contents of a stuffed Kong.

Me guide dog Fletcher sticking my tongue into a large red Kong dog. Kong is filled with yummy smelly food. don't think you can see the food. Kong is against my paw. I'm on a piece of vet bed with pale orange kennel tiles in the background. pawsatthekerb

But it wasn’t always so nice. Sometimes I was poked and prodded (in the best interests of my health). Had a general anaesthetic then a MRI (whatever that was! Humans do have strange names for things). A week later, I had another general anaesthetic and a CT scan (I’ve heard it called a CAT scan. Can you imagine the indignity: having cats examine every part of me!).

Apparently, I had two misshaped “kissing” vertebrae which rubbed together when I moved and caused me pain. It’s how I’ve developed. Have a look at the CT image below. On the left, there’s a green circle showing my canine kissing spine in my mid-back.

CT scan of my, that's guide dog Fletcher, spine in glorious 3D. Bone is white, with shades of grey, against a black backgound. On the left, there's a thin green circle around two bony bits which "kiss" each other. pawsatthekerb

There was only one thing for it. Back surgery. Gulp. Bits of my vertebrae would be shaved off. No more kissing allowed. I took the news lying down (what else do you expect?!). Last week, I had my operation.

So far so good, I’m recovering. Paws up at that. My back is still itchy and sore. There’s a massive shaven patch with exposed skin and my surgery scar. I would scratch it but this T-shirt keeps getting in the way. I’m being thwarted. Maybe if I sit here, like in the photo below, the Guide Dogs’ humans will take it off? (You know those humans were so busy checking out my lovely photos that they didn’t spot me sneaking into their office and whizzing out this blog post on their computer. Smile).

Me guide dog Fletcher sitting down head tilted to your left. I'm still rocking my dark blue T-shirt which contrasts well against my golden fur. pawsatthekerb

Hot of the press: On Monday, I walked up and down 10 steps with no painkillers. Yippee doo daa! If I keep this up, I’ll be doing light exercise on the lead this week. Then if that goes well, I’ll be working gently in a guide dog harness next week. Oh, that’s if I’m ok with it. I still want to be a working guide dog but it’s possible that I might not like wearing my old harness. Guide Dogs have been tasked with making me a new lightweight harness which some of my fellow guide dogs have. (Yes, I know lots of ifs and a bit of uncertainty to go). I’m eager to show off to all the trainee dogs what a professional guide dog I am.

And, wait for it. Drum roll please. If the next two weeks go well, I might be allowed to continue my recovery at home with my humans, Fiona and Andy, in December. Wish me well…

Woof and paw! Guide dog Fletcher.

P.S. Thank you to every human, dog and other four-paws following me! If you don’t follow my blog, please do join them. As always, feel free to leave me a pawsome comment. Feeling a bit worn out now after this pupdate and could really do with your well wishes…

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, November 2016.

Celebrating! I’ve been a guide dog for a year

Woof and waggy tail, guide dog Fletcher here! I did it. I’ve been a guide dog for a year. It’s been pawsome and I love being a life-changer. I’ve even got a bandana with “life-changer” on it.

Me guide dog Fletcher head turned to camera wearing blue Guide Dogs life-changerbandana

It’s all been happening this week. My other news is that my human found out who boarded me when I was doing my final training at Guide Dogs. And they’ve made contact. Waggy tail.

In case you were wondering, my human was only given details of my puppy walker. My human had to sniff out the names and contact details of all the other volunteers, and dogs, who have helped me be the guide dog I am today. Sadly, my tracking skills were not up to the job.

Me guide dog Fletcher in my guide dog harness sitting with body to the left and face to camera
Photo credit: Guide Dogs charity

Now I’m really honoured to be a guide dog. Above is the official Guide Dogs photo that was sent to my puppy walker and other volunteers to say thank you and to let them know I qualified. I don’t think it shows me at my best. What do you think?

The last 12 months have flown by.

I’ve been guiding my human – the pawsome Fiona – all over the place. I had just qualified when we went on holiday, with Andy (my master of fusses), to North Yorkshire. I got to travel on a steam train. And laze in the sunshine.

Me guide dog Fletcher lying down in my harness enjoying the golden Yorkshire sun

I’ve campaigned with Guide Dogs in London for #accessallareas and ended up on TV. Plus I’ve guided my human round a tiny part of London’s museums – like in the photo below – with our friend, Ness; (not sure about all this cultural stuff, guiding round statues of naked folk wasn’t in the training manual). Visiting London is exciting. So much going on.

Me guide dog Fletcher lying down on the mosaic floor of a London museum in front of the feet of a statue on a pedestal

And I’ve had many more guiding adventures. Just check out my list of blog posts.

It’s also the simple things. Just this morning, I spotted a big smelly obstacle blocking the pavement and decided to guide my human to the kerb. Neatly lined up my paws at the kerb I might add. This manoeuvre told my human that we needed to cross the road to get past the obstacle. Rather we didn’t have to keep crossing back and forth avoiding obstacles. The joys of street clutter.

I get lots of time off. Well, time off is what the humans call it. Work and play are all fun to me. Talking of play. I got to play tug with a very special dog. See the photo below. As to who that dog is – well, all will be revealed in a future blog post.

Me guide dog Fletcher playing tug with a duck toy with a smaller black Labrador on the lawn near a boarder of multi-coloured plants. The name of the dog will be revealed in the next blog post.

Happy #FletcherFriday! Time for some anniversary celebrations. I think some treats are in order. Well, I do so like my food…

Woof and paw! Guide dog Fletcher.

P.S. Special woof to my new followers. 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™, August 2016.