Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Into The New Year – Quip meets Carter

2015 is flying by so fast (I can't believe it's already February) and it seems like ages ago since I last gave you an update on Quip. I thought I'd combine my January and February posts and as you can see Quip has become firm friends with Carter - another puppy who is learning to be a Guide Dog.

My uncle, Richard, has been looking after Carter, who is four and a half months old, for a couple of weeks while his puppy walkers are on holiday, which means that Quip has had a friend to play and cause mischief with. Richard also had another dog come to stay for a few days when a family friend went away, but Quip wasn't as impressed as this dog was older and didn't want to play!

In January, I was able to get a glimpse at the different commands that Quip has learnt first hand when Richard showed me how to do this. It is quite hard to master first time and I think Quip was waiting patiently for me to give him the correct commands! These included: sit, lay down, up stand, up sit, leave and stay. It's a lot for a young dog to take in, and I don't know many dogs that would leave food on the floor which is right in front of them and not touch it. Richard told me it's important that I picked up the piece of food that was on the floor and then asked Quip to come to me, as the Guide Dogs do not want the puppies to learn to pick things up off of the floor.

Here's some of these commands in action:

I was also lucky enough to actually go on a walk with Quip, Richard and Carter for the first time. It was fantastic to see them both in action and Richard even went into his local Waitrose so I could see how the two boys needed to behave when going round a shop. Before you ask, no sausages were stolen! Both were very well behaved on their walk and they looked happy to wear their Guide Dogs coats. 

They both wear canny collars, which helps them to learn not to pull. This clips onto the lead behind their head, rather than under their chin, so that it doesn't ride up into their eyes or pull their head to one side. They can still breathe freely and open their mouths, so it doesn't stop Quip or Carter from enjoying their walks. However, if you want these for your own dog make sure these are fitted properly and ask for help if necessary. 

Recently, Quip has been distracted by other dogs during training and when he is out for walks. I think it's because he's so happy and just wants to be everyone's friend. Unfortunately, as a Guide Dog he can't be rushing over to greet other dogs when leading his chosen handler or not come back when he's free running. It's a shame as he's perfect in every other way, but guide dogs have to meet certain requirements so they can go on to their next stage of training in the required time frame. Even those dogs who do everything perfectly sometimes don't make it because they won't go with another person when asked. It's a fine line between being over friendly or too passive. 

As a result, Quip will be having an assessment in a few week's time to see if he needs to have further training with a professional or won't make it as a Guide Dog. It's a tough call to make, but Richard is hoping that Quip will make progress in the meantime. 

Whatever the outcome of Quip's assessment, I think he's learnt so much over the past year and I'm so proud of him. He'd make such a fantastic guide dog or companion and someone would be lucky to have him in their life.

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