Saturday, 27 November 2010

some play time for Renton - at last!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

How about a challenge for you, the reader?

Down and stay!.
I’m wanting a little help from you. I have had amazing feedback about the blog..and I would like to know from more blog readers,  how much more detail you would like to know about my life with Renton..I mean, I find it fascinating..of course!! might be going..oh no..not more.. about Renton.

So... any tips on what you would you have liked or disliked so far..would be really helpful.

and your prize?...well you'll get a personal mention in the blog of course!!!    or a pint down the local have to pay your own expenses though if you live outside Lanark.well, lets never mind the outside lanark bit!!!!!just pay..all your expenses actually....phew..thank goodness I remembered to say that..considering the readership!!! Australia, Korea...planes are expensive.....

Monday, 15 November 2010

Wise old dog!

“you can’t put an old head on young shoulders.” My retired dog Moss who was 10 years old this week, showed Renton a thing or two when it came to getting a treat without having to bust a gut. 
When free running Renton in the park his re-call (ie: return to me!) is generally pretty good, but to keep his response time up, we regularly reinforce it by going through a number of obedience and re-call exercises before taking the lead off of him.  I normally start the routine  with  “sit, wait, down, wait.” and while I’m doing this, I’m walking around the dog with the lead fully extended. Next step is to put on his play collar with bells attached so that I can hear where he is in the park. and yes, it does make him sound like an alpine cow! 
Anyway, a new re-call game we play is where Christine hides and I get Renton and Moss to go and find her. When they do, they’ll get a treat from her and then I’ll use my whistle to call them both back to me for another small treat. It keeps them interested in us rather than other distractions in the park. Fun for all the family.
However, Moss got quickly bored with this game. So when Renton went tearing off to find Christine, Moss quietly moved only 3 yards away away giving me the impression that he too was off to hunt  down his prey.  When I blew my whistle, I heard Renton running back, his bells getting quickly  louder and louder.  And then on cue Mr Moss steps in at the last moment for some praise and a treat. He hadn’t gone anywhere or done anything to deserve it, but he managed to con his former blind handler that he had been helping out Renton.

 Hey,..wise old dog!!!dontcha be teaching the young one new tricks!! 

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Movin on up!

Remarkable, exactly 5 weeks today I started this blog, who would have believed it that I have had reached 1000  hits this very morning.

Renton and Nugget - bear hug!..not then it wasn't!!!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Blog Ratings

It was due to Christine's persuasive powers that I have written this Blog at all...she thought it would be a good idea to keep me occupied in the hotel room in between training sessions to stop me going stir crazy.  It was either this or basket weaving!..who would have believed it then, that we are now just 85 short of 1000 hits for this blog.

With an audience from all round the UK, Singapore, Russia, Denmark, Korea, Australia, Ireland, USA, Germany and Poland.   Incredible, lets see if we can get it to 1000 by the please...spread the word....and I'll keep writing.

Time to say "THANK YOU"

You've got to have..friends...Renton and Nugget

The one thing I hadn’t thought of when I went for my new dog was how many people would be involved in supporting me through this process. Not only the dog trainers, but those people who have worked to keep me sane! goes...a great big Renton style Thankyou to: 

Volunteer Puppy walkers Sheila and Peter for the fantastic job they did with Renton. It’s thanks to them that I’ve got a guide dog that is so well house trained and socialised. 
Breeders: Eleanor and Angus of the brood bitch who donated the puppies to the Association. Again many thanks to them.

Niall Young worked tirelessly with Renton to train him to a fantastic standard  and for teaching him the fabulous command..."stand"  how wonderful is that command alone Niall?..German Shepherd’s require particular handling due to their sensitivity and Niall has done grand job.

Mary then took over and has been training me how to work with Renton  and has to put up with me saying at least a hundred times a day .."well my last dogs' never did that..." So a big thankyou to her for putting up with me for the last few weeks, but she hasn’t finished yet..... 
Allan and Gael came to visit and had to listen to me prattling on about Renton for 3 hours!  They also looked after Moss when Christine came to stay over at the weekends. Brian also came to visit and listened patiently to me moaning about rubbish and Max  another old friend turned up at the hotel and bought me beer.  

Chas arrived with his four children one Sunday afternoon. I showed the children  how to groom Renton while Chas and I  drank tea and gossiped about work. [By the end of the afternoon Renton had turned into a huge fuzzy ball of fur!)

Whilst I was focusing on this new dog and driving everyone mad, Mike and his glamorous assistant Rosie fixed the fence to stop Renton rounding up the horses in the field next door.
Lorne, Christine’s father, nagged us into taking a reality pill and get a bigger car to transport our two large dogs, sorted our underfloor insulation, fixed tiles in the kitchen and persevered with us both wittering on about big dog, little dog, big dog little know  witter! 

Mark my good friend and fellow guide dog owner has been and will be (for the for see able future) my personal councillor on the phone when particularly when Renton hit his "u bend phase"  and he reminded me on numerous occasions that it is always tough at the start. No matter how many guide dogs you are lucky to work with,  Guide dogs don't arrive in a red ribboned parcel ready to plug in and go. 
 Thank you everyone for all your support.    But I should remind you...this is not the is just the beginning!!!!!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Time for a quick rant

I have to get something off my chest. Crazy questions from the general public!

I’m fully aware that people are interested in how a guide dog is trained, but even when I answer their questions, for some reason they don’t always seem to believe me. I've put some examples below:
Question “How do they teach the dog to read signs?”  
Answer “Dogs can’t read, they’re dogs.”
re-action public: perplexed, disbelief, the dog must know how to read signs....  

Member of public shouts to me..."haw Mr...what a lovely dog you've got, I've got a girl one like that at home"
re-action me - Perplexed, disbelief....

Question “Are you sure they can’t read?”
Answer “Sorry, I misled you, yes you are correct they can read. In fact my dog is currently reading War and Peace.”

One question that was asked this week not to me, but to Christine as she followed behind me and Renton. 

Question “When does the dog know when to cross the road?”
Answer “It doesn’t, it is up to the blind person to judge when it is clear” 
Question “Yes I know, but when does the dog know that the road is clear?”

And on it went with the person repeating the same question at least 4 times and getting the same response. It was a perfectly reasonable question, but she didn’t like the answer. 
The next one always makes me laugh and I end up being sarcastic, I can’t help it. Keep in your mind that my last dog was a black Labrador and my new one is a large German Shepherd. 
Question “When are you going for your new dog?” 
Now then I’m  standing with something the size of a small horse with a white harness on which says in neon lettering  Guide Dog. 
Answer "here he is" and I point to the dog- just to make sure
Question, “It’s a black Labrador you have though, isn’t it, what have you got this time?”
Answer, “I’ve got the same again a black lab.” As I nod to the Shepherd.
Answer “Ah that’s good.” Then they wander off -  Confused?

And I’m the one with the Guide Dog. It’s a real worry.  

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Cuckoo in the nest - whose bowl is whose?

I’ve now been home one whole week and in some respects it’s like going back a stage in the training as I now have to settle Renton into another new place...this time his own home. 
In the history of dog training these are the  "early weeks" and it is all about me understanding what Renton can do and how I can interpret his moves. Whether they be positive moves like: guiding me around road works, groups of school pupils aimlessly milling around eating chips or finding a pelican crossing to help me cross the road. These are all tough things to do and Renton can and has done them all very well. Alternatively, he has also been  completely distracted, stopping to sniff doorways, getting lost, going up the wrong driveway, walking me into a hedge  and for all these things he needs to be corrected...However, all negatives, need to be looked upon positively and we encourage him to do better through lots of praise. We are trying to build his confidence so that the guiding does not become a negative chore.
What we are trying to establish is consistency. Even though Neil Young [not the singer,] who did the early training at the centre in Forfar did an excellent job,I’m a new handler for Renton, and I don’t know his little ways and character. Importantly, Renton knows this himself and will try to push the boundaries. 
This is exactly what he did today. He sniffed, sniffed and sniffed some more. This was a route from my home to the railway station we had travelled before with little difficulty, but today he was chancing his arm, or should I say paw. In this kind of situation it is so easy to get angry, but again, it is equally as important that I remain consistent, positive and firm. Oh yes and calm. Eventually I got him going with some assistance from Mary  my trainer, (who growled at him...really!) but I think it would be reasonable to say it wasn’t Renton’s finest hour. However, in three weeks this was truly his only bad walk and when you think of it like that...then he is doing really well.