A walk on the healthy side

Going for a walk is one of the highlights of my day. Most people know that the exercise is beneficial to dogs and humans, but I think a walk is about so much more than getting some exercise so I’m going to talk about some of the other benefits.

For me, it’s quality time with one, or more, of my bipeds. I don’t have to share them with any of the many tasks that bipeds find to do for most of the day, their focus is on enjoying the time with me. The cats stay at home while we’re out for a walk – I love the cats but it’s lovely to get all the attention from my bipeds for a while! Quality time together improves the bond between dog and humans.

It is mentally stimulating for me to be able to sniff and find out what is going on in the neighbourhood. Humans miss most of the messages left by other dogs and wildlife, which is surprising as the messages are usually left in obvious places – on trees in the countryside and on street lights in urban areas! This means that even a short walk near to home is interesting as I get to know who has been in the area and when they were there.

Clowie, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees strolling in the mountains

I’m just strolling in the mountains – biped in tow

I have my favourite walks – they all include a stream. I love having a splash in cool water and the opportunity to take a drink – it always tastes better than the water my bipeds are carrying. I also enjoy it when we walk somewhere new because it’s an adventure!

When I was younger we always did some training while we were out. It was often things I’d been doing at home in our garden and I was asked to do them while we were out – it’s always much harder when there are distractions! I also encountered all sorts of people and animals while out on my walks as part of my socialisation.

I still get to show off some of my skills, and keep them honed, when we’re out on a walk. People often want to make a fuss of me and I’m always polite. Sometimes they just want to talk to my bipeds and I sit and show how very patient I am.

Most of my walks are in the countryside as that’s what we enjoy the most, but sometimes we go to a busy place where I see lots of traffic and people. I show that I remember to wait at the kerb until my biped says that it’s safe for us to cross. Sometimes someone will touch me unexpectedly and I take it in my stride (pun intended)!

I try to ensure that my bipeds focus on me during a walk, this is because I think it’s a special time for them to relax and forget about all the day to day things that concern them. I also help them to enjoy the simple pleasures of life such as splashing in a muddy puddle or pausing to sniff a wild flower. I’m not sure why they like sniffing flowers when there are always more interesting things to sniff, but they seem to enjoy it and it gives me more time to sniff things that are interesting!

The Cinnamon Trust

I’d like to mention The Cinnamon Trust, a charity based in the UK. They assist the terminally ill and the elderly to look after their pets. They have a network of volunteers who will do things like taking a dog for a regular walk.

Update on Milo

I interviewed Milo when he was a cheeky young pup and I told you that he was accepted for guide dog school. He’s now a working guide dog. Congratulations and very best wishes, Milo!

Milo's tweet about qualifying as a guide dog

See you next Wednesday!

More about Milo

Do you all remember that cheeky young pup called Milo? His ambition is to be a Guide Dog and he was kind enough to visit for an interview which you can read here: Spotlight on Milo – Trainee guide Dog.

Milo

Milo

He’s been doing some growing up since then and he’s about to finish his 16 weeks of basic training. He will soon move on to his advanced training – this takes 10 weeks and during this time he will be matched with a biped who needs his help.

Milo’s 12-week report, part 1: Milo is a bright, happy, affectionate dog. He has settled well and loves learning! He is working in harness.

Milo’s 12-week report, part 2: Milo is a lovely boy, good on public transport and loves his toys. He will soon move to advanced training.

Congratulations Milo!

I’d also like to mention Milo’s puppy walker, Allie. She is the person that socialised Milo and ensured that he had all the experiences he needed to be ready to do his training to become a Guide Dog.

Congratulations Allie!

I have mentioned before how important socialisation is. The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (UK) do everything they can to ensure that socialisation of their puppies begins early. And Guide Dogs for the Blind (USA) also stress the importance of socialisation.

Milo, when he was much younger, dreaming about being a Guide Dog when he's grown up

Milo, when he was much younger, dreaming about being a Guide Dog when he’s grown up

Good luck in the advanced training, Milo!

See you next Wednesday!

Spotlight on Milo – Trainee Guide Dog

I’m really excited that Milo has agreed to be my guest today. He is a puppy who is training to be a guide dog. I’m sure you’ll enjoy hearing about him. Put your paws together and give him a warm Clowie’s Corner welcome!

Milo

Milo

Clowie: Thank you for being my guest today. Would you like to tell us about yourself?

Milo: I’m Milo, I’m ten months old and I’m training to be a Guide Dog. My puppy walker, Allie, and I have a blog on the Guide Dogs website. [There have been changes on the website and this is no longer available.] I like food, playing in the garden, chewing stuff, going to the park, gravy bones, ice cubes, being brushed, getting muddy, having baths, my cuddly panda (the other toys all exploded after I chewed them), and learning new things.

C: It’s a mystery to me why they make exploding toys! What else do you do?

Milo: I get bored walking around the shops (seriously, I would rather hang out with the other dogs outside) but I know I have a job to do and I try to be good. I’m not allowed to pull on the lead but it’s hard for me not to do that.

C: I struggled with learning not to pull, but it seems important to bipeds!

Milo: I don’t really like pigeons and squirrels and I like to chase them.

C: Good luck with that, they always cheat – pigeons fly at the last moment and squirrels disappear up a tree! What happens next with your training?

Milo: When I am older – after my first birthday – I will have to leave my current uprights and go to Big Dog School to learn how to be a Guide Dog. If I get everything right, I will be sent to live with a new upright who can’t see and I’ll help them to get around (in exchange for treats and hugs, hopefully).

C: I’m sure you’ll get lots of hugs and treats, it’s very important work! Tell me about your family.

Milo: My mum is Lucy, a lab, and my dad is Parker, a golden retriever. I’m told that I have more than 200 siblings and half-siblings!

Proud parents - Lucy (left) and Parker (right)

Proud parents – Lucy (left) and Parker (right)

C: Wow, that’s a lot of brothers and sisters! Where do you live now?

Milo: I live in Chester with my uprights – The Lady (whose name is Allie) The Man (Jez), The Boy (Reece) and The One Who Stays In His Room And Plays Video Games (Jake).
We have a nice garden with a special corner for me to go to the toilet because I’m not allowed to go on the grass or in the house. I have a big bed with a cushion and a blanket in the kitchen. I have lots of toys to play with.

C: That sounds like fun. Do you have a favourite game?

Milo: I like the one where I stand on the stairs and the uprights try and tell me to come down and I stare at them. I once made The Lady say, “Milo, COME” in a really stern voice 27 times before she got bored and made me come down.

C: Ha, ha, bipeds don’t have the stamina that we do!

Milo: I like digging holes in the garden, but The Man doesn’t like it very much and he fills them in again.

C: I know what that feels like!

Milo: I also like the one where they throw a big squeaky stick for me, then I run off and pretend I’m going to get it. Seriously – if you pick it up and give it back to them, they only throw it again. What’s the point in that?

C: I’m with you on that! I can’t see the point of “fetch“. Do you have a favourite book?

Milo: I don’t read that much, but I do like watching television. My favourite programme is Springwatch, unless they are talking about squirrels. They’re too fast for me to chase. I also like chasing my tail, sleeping and eating.

C: How have you been coping with the hot weather?

Milo: I don’t like the hot weather very much, but I’ve been eating lots of doggie ice pops to keep cool. The Lady makes them by dissolving 1 teaspoon of Marmite in 500ml of hot water. She lets it cool and then pours it into disposable plastic cups and freezes it, but you could use whatever moulds you have.

C: I like the sound of those! Thank you for being my guest today, it’s been fun chatting with you, Milo. I would like to wish you all the best in your future career.

Milo - Guide Dog puppy in training

Milo – Guide Dog puppy in training

You can follow Milo’s progress here:

• Twitter – @MiloGDP

• Guide Dog website – 2013 Diary of a puppy walker [There have been changes on the website and this is no longer available.]

See you next Wednesday!

Update:

18 March 2014: Milo has almost finished his basic training and will move to advanced training and be matched with a person soon.

Spotlight on Hetty – Seizure Alert and Guide Dog

I’m really excited that Hetty has agreed to be my guest today. She is an award-winning dog doing very special work. I’m sure you’ll enjoy hearing about her and the work she does. Put your paws together and give her a warm Clowie’s Corner welcome!

Hetty - Dual Assistance Dog

Hetty – Dual Assistance Dog

Clowie: Thank you for being my guest today, Hetty. Would you like to tell us about yourself?

Hetty: I am a black Golden Retriever cross Labrador Retriever aged 3.5 years. I was bred by Guide Dogs and puppy walked in Scotland before moving to Sheffield for my advanced training.

C: I’ve seen puppies in training and I was very impressed. The puppy walkers do a great job of socialising and preparing the puppies. Why were you chosen?

Continue Reading