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Today I’m going to go off topic. This is a post that I would be writing today even if it was not part of the Blogtober Challenge, and it’s got absolutely nothing to do with horses whatsoever. Today is my beloved retired Guide Dog, Ripley’s 13th birthday. A day which, back in April, when he was extremely ill and refused to eat for nearly a week, and all the examinations and tests known to vet could not work out what was wrong with him, I was convinced he would not see. This week also happens to be Guide Dogs Week here in the UK. So I thought it was an opportune moment to use this blog to spread the word about what a fantastic organisation Guide Dogs is.

Incredibly it’s 87 years since the first

Four in Trepid Pathfinders, ventured out on the streets of Britain with their guide dogs by their side. The idea of guiding blind people with dogs was not universally accepted bag then. In fact quite The opposite. It was considered pure lunacy, The term crackpot was used to describe both the idea and those who were advocating it. Many people considered it to be cruel both to man and dog. . I’m immeasurably greatful to those pioneers who believed in the idea, and fought to get it off the ground. Ripley was my 3rd Guide Dog, and, while it’s fair to say he wasn’t the most dedicated Guide, we had some adventures together before he took early retirement age 6.

he saw me through a career change, that took me from being a police civilian to holistic complimentary therapist. He was by mine and Hal’s side while Hal’s Health hit rock bottom. He sat through countless lectures and tutorials, both at college and university, and travelled hundreds of miles with me on my journeys to and from Hereford from Plymouth. When I graduated he graduated to. At our graduation ceremony Mary King was given an honorary doctorate by the University, and when I was receiving my degree, according to my slightly star struck husband, had a sly stroke. Everybody who has a copy of the graduates video for that ceremony will see a large black guide dog leading the students parade. He got me home in a blizzard once, after my taxi driver lost control of the car on ice at the top of our lane. .

My first guide dog, Odine, came down the aisle with me when I got married. Guide Dog Number two, Annie, saw me through a career change from being a civil servant to being a police civilian. Annie and I were presented to her Majesty the Queen once, on the behalf of guide dogs, and Annie, bless her, jumped up at her Majesty and left wet Pawprint on her coat. When Annie retired, aged 10 and half, my colleagues love to so much that they arranged a retirement party for her at work, and presented her with a certificate signed by the chief constable. My current guide dog, Number four, Quincey, has already been by my side through the lifestyle change which brought us to this village, and living with the horses in the back garden so to speak. He’s been there with me well I’ve gone through being a participant in a clinical research trial, and looked after me well I’ve been recuperating from a lot of eye surgery.

These are the extraordinary examples of what having a guide dog can help somebody achieve. The reality though is much more fundamental. Without odine, Annie, Ripley, or Quincey, my life would have been completely different. Doing the most basic things in life, like the shopping, going to the postbox, going to work, would have become much more difficult as my eyesight deteriorated,. Yes I am capable of, and apparently very good at, using a long cane, but using a long cane is so difficult, stressful, and at times even painful. Without my dogs I doubt I would have achieved anywhere near things that I have with my life.

many people living with sight loss rely in a guy dog to help them Live their lives to the full. Those things that the majority of people take for granted. Going to the pub, taking the kids to school, going to work.. .. if you can think it, chances are there’s a Guide Dog Ownersomewhere doing with the help of their faithful hound.

All of this can only happen because of the kindness and generosity of people who make donations to a fundraiser for guide dogs

So if you have ever put your change in a guide dog collecting box in the shop, bought merchandise from all taken part in the tombola at a guide dogs stand at a large show, If you sponsor A puppy, or take part in the guide dog lottery, or if you have ever sponsored anybody taking part in a guy dog fund raising event. thank you from the bottom of my heart..