Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Guide Dogs – Quip's Growing Up

I just couldn't resist showing everyone this photo, doesn't Quip look happy?! It was really nice to see Quip this month as I was away for most of August in Australia and my uncle, Richard, also went away to Canada for two weeks early on in September.

Now you might think, "Well, what about Quip?" but he had plenty of fun staying at another puppy walker's house, although he still had to carry on with his training. Puppy walkers do need a break sometimes, and we all love going away, so Guide Dogs have other walkers, or those who can't commit to looking after a puppy full time but are able to do so occasionally, on hand to take over when they are needed.

FLASHBACK! It's amazing to see how much Quip has grown during his stay with Richard, just look at the above photos. The one on the left was taken when I first met Quip in May and the one on the right was when I saw him in September. Within just a few short months, Quip has certainly come along leaps and bounds! 

Quip's now seven and a half months old and he's just getting bigger and bigger. He was due for his bronze assessment after reaching the six month old marker, but he hasn't done this yet because Richard was away. Hopefully, I'll have plenty to tell you about this when I visit Quip and Richard next month.

In the meantime, Quip has been doing really well with his training on the bus and now both of them get on together, rather than Quip enthusiastically pulling Richard on! Once Richard has bought a ticket, he tells Quip to find a seat and Quip will lead him towards an empty one and put his head on the seat. He'll then wait until Richard is able to sit down on the bus.

He can certainly walk for miles and Richard has been taking him on a two mile walk every day. What's great to hear is that you wouldn't know Quip was even on the lead as he walks so well and doesn't pull at all.

Quip's now moved up to the adult training class when he goes for his sessions with the other Guide Dog puppies and it looks as though he's the biggest in the class. He's still lively, but he's quietened down as one of the exercises involves walking through two rows of the other puppies and sitting at the other end of the hall. He would have been too excited to do this just a few months ago.

Richard continues to enforce Quip's training at home and as you can see from the above photo, his stay is impeccable. He even sat for me when I asked him!

An important part of Quip's training is ensuring he will be comfortable with the harness that all Guide Dogs are required to wear when they have completed their training. Some dogs just never get comfortable with the harness and so they fail their training. Richard has been draping Quip's lead across his back so that he gets used to a bit of weight on his back, but Quip's taking it in his stride and it doesn't seem to faze him at all. He loves his coat still and wants to wear it all the time.

Richard is still taking him on the train to the local high street with his partner Julie and it seems as though Quip is still enjoying this part of training. Richard tries to use both the train and bus so Quip can continue to get better at tackling these and he's perfectly happy going into the shops or waiting outside for Richard or Julie.

He's very relaxed about his training, so much so that Richard is going to meet another puppy walker who is also training a Guide Dog so they can both free run. The hope is that the other puppy will follow Quip's lead because he's so good at this and not be distracted from everything that is going on in the park. Richard is also looking after a much younger puppy for one day, so it'll be interesting to hear how they all got along next time I pay a visit!

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