So much has happened since my last post in February - including Quip turning one! His birthday was on February 16 (just after my February update) so I thought I'd share this picture with you. Quip did enjoy his birthday sausage, but had to look in the other direction so he wouldn't snaffle it while everyone sang 'Happy Birthday'! I gave him a little present as well, so he had plenty to keep him occupied.
Sadly, I later found out Nicholas was taken out of training. This was because on another occasion Nicholas got chewing gum caught up in his fur around his back end and became defensive over this area once the gum was removed. He growled at his walker once, and this had to be reported to the supervisors because of the job the Guide Dogs are required to do. Unfortunately, he then growled a second time and so was unsuited to carrying on his training.
This shows just how perfect these Guide Dogs have to be. As well as learning all the different skills they need to know in order to progress, they also have to be willing to be examined when necessary and be calm and happy to walk with other people when required. Thankfully, Quip is happy to do all these things, which is why I think he would make such a wonderful Guide Dog.
In my last update, I mentioned that Quip was getting quite distracted by other dogs and was having an assessment to see if he could go on to his next stage of training, I'm so pleased to announce that he passed with flying colours! Two supervisors brought a fully trained Guide Dog with him and told Richard that they would meet them at some point along the walk.
All three walked up the road towards Richard and Quip to see how he would react to a dog walking right up to them and Quip completely ignored them! They then walked back the other way a bit further down and both dogs had to pass each other side by side. They both just looked at each other and then carried on. Next they walked round the block and the fully trained Guide Dog was very close behind them. This dog then passed Quip and walked in front of him and when he got round the corner, waited for Quip to catch them up. The supervisors were both really positive about Quip and thought that he was doing really well.
As you can see Quip loves a fuss judging by his face! Quip also had another Guide Dog puppy come to stay this month - this time a 10 month old labrador called Bertie. Richard looked after him for a week and both puppies had a great time together. I think this was another reason for why Quip passed his assessment - socialising with the other puppies for longer than the group training sessions has helped him to calm down and mature.
Bear in mind he is now 13 months old so he's entitled to still be quite puppyish in his antics. However, he loves learning with Richard and you can tell that he takes his job seriously when the Guide Dog coat comes on.
There's also been a great improvement with Quip walking on the lead and Richard has stopped using the canny collar. Quip is really pleased about this because he wasn't keen on the lead, but it was essential in his training because a Guide Dog cannot pull his/her blind user along. In a bid to help him get better at recall, Richard has bought a 50ft rope and attached it to his collar so Quip can run far in advance and practise the recall. He's perfectly fine doing this off lead, but gets a bit distracted by children and other dogs as he just wants to say hello.
Recently I found out that the Guide Dogs want to take Quip onto his next stage of training. I was devastated when I heard the news that he would be leaving Richard on April 28 because I've seen him develop, mature and grow into the wonderful dog that he is today. I have to admit a few tears were shed and I can't imagine how Richard feels.
However, I know that ultimately Quip never belonged to Richard - he belonged to the Guide Dogs and Richard was simply helping bring him on until he could progress onto different training. I feel so proud of Quip and hope that he gets through his 20 weeks of training after April so he can then be paired with a blind user and support and guide them through this chapter of his life.
My next blog post will be my last update on Quip. Prepare for more tears!