|Renton sitting in the drivers seat of the car looking in the wing mirror|
Unless there is a snap general UK election in the next 12 months, this forthcoming Scottish Election at the beginning of May, will be my guide dog’s last one before he retires! Bit of a shock I know! One of the reasons I started this blog was to explain the process of how a blind person is trained to work with the new dog and all the bonding and frustrations that go along with it. So far he’s been on the road with me on two UK elections, one local council election, a Scottish Referendum on independence and oh yes, a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU still to come at the end of June.
So Renton has certainly seen his fair share of political action.
It’s never easy making the decision to retire a guide dog, but as he’s coming up for 8 and it can take some time to get the exact dog for my needs, it was suggested it may be time to start the process of retiring him.
So, before the Easter break, I sat down with one of the guide dog instructors to set out a plan and timetable for Renton’s retirement. The one thing I didn’t want to do was have a last minute rush to stop him working, which would leave me with no dog at all or push me into getting a dog that doesn't quite fit my needs. Because of this we’ve put a plan in place that he will retire sometime over the next 18months!
There are two things I have to consider when retiring a guide dog. His welfare and my mobility. One doesn’t supersede the other, they are both equally important. It’s very easy to get sentimental, but it doesn’t help. Fundamentally, I’m blind and need a dog to get about. Plus he needs some time to enjoy life without the stress of work.
|picture of the bag of Ian and Rentons heads as they sit in the car|
A colleague at work had said that they thought that 8yrs old sounded young to retire a guide dog? Well, in many cases this may be true. However, it does come down to the dogs work load and breed. German shepherds are larger dogs so do tend to age a bit quicker than the average Lab.8-9yrs old is about an average age for a dog which is so big...and he is huge! So to give them some kind of quality after work life it’s best to retire them a bit earlier.
So anytime over the next year and a half, I could get that call saying we’ve a new dog for you. Then the real emotion kicks in and the next big decision. Do we keep Renton? Or find him a new home for his retirement?