Wednesday, 8 December 2010


Photo: Moss gallups along by himself into the snowy countryside
SNOW! SNOW! And more bleeding SNOW! For the first few days it was fun to get the dogs out for a play, Renton just loves the stuff, but it is impossible to work him when it’s so deep and it is now getting very frustrating.  

Guide dogs are trained to stay off roads and to walk on pavements, and this week has been very exasperating with the pavements and edges of the roads being piled high with ice and snow. Renton is taught to stop at kerbs..and as you know...with all this snow, we are lucky to find the kerbs. 

All this snow can also be very disorientating as all the regular landmarks and sounds change when everything is covered in snow. As I’ve only had Renton a couple of months, it’s important to constantly reinforce his training to consolidate our bond. Something that I am worried about as we’ve been unable to do this, over the last couple of weeks 
Photo: Moss comes back - for a biscuit of course!
On the positive side, Renton and Moss have had a fantastic time, giving them space to get to know each other and test each other out a bit. We’ve had them out running together, around Lanark golf course which is covered in a couple of feet of snow. There have been a few tussles, German Shepherds like to play by chasing and standing on their back legs in play fights, while Mr Moss...well, He is a gentleman and likes keep to his gentle rules of chase and then follow games.

Photo: Renton trying to eat the snow
 Renton loves to pick up the snow with his mouth and toss it into the air and then try and catch it. Because of his size, it’s so easy sometimes to forget how young and puppy like, he is.

photo: car in snowy driveway
This week, like a lot of people, it has been hard to get to work, I must venture in next week or my colleagues wont recognise me. I’ve got  a funny feeling they might remember Renton though.    

Photographs brought to you in association with Alan White!

Temperature showing -20.3 degrees at the weather station Lanark Golf Course
Gail White sent Christine these pictures.  -- - 20c!. To think we were going to run the dogs up Lanark Golf Course this morning, so so glad we never. 
Tried tiring the dogs out by running round the outside of the house 15 times!!
Car Park full of ice and snow
Never worked Renton still wants to play.

View of Lanark Golf Course from the first Tee covered with ice and snow

Marys' Email

What all the best dressed dogs are wearing at bedtime

After all the bad snow and traffic problems we've had here in Central Scotland in the last few days, I got this email from my guide dog trainer Mary. Talk about commitment. Or was it just an excuse for a pyjama party and takeaway.

Hi Ian

Well what a night, carry out food, pj's from Asda, dog beds, putting into a wellie boot and the Herald crossword by the xmas tree, three pet dogs and 2 training dogs.....oh and 10 members of staff all sleeping on the floor.
Trying to get home at lunch time.

Take care and see you when the weather gets better.

Sunday, 5 December 2010


who is winding who up?     Copyright Lorne Brown

Just a quick note about obedience.  I always start off any walk with a series of obedience exercises with Renton.  I get him to Sit, Down and Stay...while I slowly extend the lead and walk around him.  The cartoon above is Lornes' interpretation of this....aaargh!
love it

Renton’s Riot


Due to the snow, Renton has had time off from training.....but not obedience.

 The last few days have been a bit erratic with Renton. His guiding work has been excellent, but, he has been showing some signs of stress, particularly around horses, cats and dogs. It appears to be a re-action of fear rather than dominance, as he is not an aggressive dog by nature. He seems to fixate on the horse or dog...  barking and growling, and this is obviously, very scary for other dog owners. 
Well, this is what happened last week when I was out with a couple of colleagues having some lunch in a nearby pub. I blame myself, because Renton was asleep and I hadn’t a proper grip of his lead. It just suddenly kicked off. Steak pie going one way, chips the other... One of the regulars came in with his small dog Megan. She  is a quiet little thing who sees the pub like a second home. Moss knew her well and they got on fine.   However, Renton hadn’t come across her in his previous visits. Before I knew what was happening, Renton was up on his toes and off barking and running her. She must have thought; “ that’s it I’m a goner now”. 
Thankfully not. Renton ran over to her and stopped dead. As if, “what do I do now.”  he sniffed her nose...and after that they were fine...all was quiet and calm again.

He has also done this in harness on the street a couple of times. I’ve just used the old "Dog Whisperer" technique of getting him to lay down on his side, until he calms down.  And it seems to work.

As for the horses this is new to Renton and us.  Moss quite likes the horses and has never worried them or ran riot. And when Renton first came, the horses in the field next door didn’t appear to bother him, but for some reason he has been loosing it completely. To the extent I’ve had to get him down on his side again. This technique does work well. In fact he puts up very little resistance. However, this means I can’t relax, I’m on my toes the whole time waiting for the next reaction. Charlie, the horse has remained very calm, at all times, looking over the fence wondering what all the fuss is about
I’ve been reliably informed this isn’t unusual for a German Sheppard who has changed handlers at least 4 times in his 2 years. Guide Dogs have told me that his sensitivity will decrease as he settles further.

Lets hope so as my right arm is going to be two foot longer than my left. On the positive side  I now have the reaction time of a Ninja warrior. 

This is Charlie, one of the horses next door - he is the coolest horse in Lanark - and knows a thing or two about mad dogs...