I bet you're thinking that the Easter bunny looks a bit different this year? In fact, it's Quip enjoying the spring on a walk with my uncle! Doesn't he look handsome.
So much has happened over this past year and although there's been a few downs, there's been plenty of ups too. I've seen Richard and Julie take on a huge, daunting challenge as they had trained a Guide Dog puppy before and I've also seen Quip grow into the amazing dog that he is today.
Quip has drastically continued to improve over the past month and the change in him is staggering! He continues to mature, bear in mind he's still pretty young, but he has done so well with his training and is so much better in the group sessions as he doesn't get distracted as much by the other puppies.
It's funny as Richard said when they have visitors, Quip will sometimes wander up the stairs and give himself a short time out. I know dogs are smart, but Quip takes it to a whole new level. I think Quip is much better in social situations too as his friend Carter has come over a few more times since their last meeting. This gives Quip the opportunity to badger him for attention as much as he likes!
Quip is still doing well on the train and as you can see he enjoyed a trip to Southend this month. It looks a bit cold for me, but Quip doesn't seem to mind. Once he has his coat on, he has a job to do and he'll see whatever task he has been given through to the end.
When Richard told me last month that Quip was going on to his next stage of training, I have to admit I did cry. I've seen Quip change both in appearance and during his training and do feel sad that I probably won't see him again. I can't imagine what it was like for Richard and Julie when they took him up to the Guide Dogs HQ.
But, at the end of the day, my feelings don't come into it. Quip has a job to do and I'll be so proud of him whatever the outcome. It'll be interesting to see how he does during these next 20 weeks of training - of course, if I hear an update, I'll let you know - and after then, if all is well, Quip will be paired to his blind user.
Richard let me and my sister Jodie take Quip put for one last time. It was lovely to take him out on his own and Quip was very good on the lead - as always!
Before Quip went on Tuesday, the Guide Dog co-ordinator spoke to Richard and Julie on the phone so they could give them an update on his daily routines. Quip will be leaving in kennels at the Guide Dogs HQ, but he'll be sharing with another dog so they won't be lonely, With the information that Richard provided, the supervisor can determine which dog will share his kennel. Quip's brother Quinn will be going to the HQ within the next week, so who knows they could end up together!
The working life that Quip will spend as a Guide Dog is between eight to 10 years, and after this he will be offered to the blind person that he guided. If for any reason, the blind person cannot have their old Guide Dog, then there is a long list of people willing to adopt. Quip will cost the Guide Dog Association £50,000 over his lifetime and bear in mind a young blind person could have four Guide Dogs during their life! Any Guide Dogs that are sold - either because they have reached retirement or sadly didn't get through all of the training - are monitored by the organisation on a regular basis.
With a tender heart, I left Quip knowing that he had so much to offer a blind user. I hope the rest of his training goes well and he makes his new partner in crime very happy. He is one of the loveliest dogs I have ever been lucky enough to meet.
Before I leave you, I have some more exciting news. Richard has already been given a second Guide Dog puppy to train! She's exactly the same as Quip - a black labrador/retriever - but she's female (obviously) and is called Rosie. She's seven weeks old and I can't wait to meet her in May. Everyone, meet Rosie...