Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Ceri - Day 3 of A-Z


Attentive Ceri - there must be a treat
It seems only like yesterday that we fostered a tail wagging, bum wiggling, smiling-faced hairy mass of gentleness and love in the form of a Golden Retriever named Ceri, into our home. She is a guide dog in training, coming up to her final weeks of training before being placed with a deserving soul for whom Ceri will be a Godsend.

And now we have roughly one week left with her before she leaves us permanently to go to her new owner for the rest of her working life. We've been told it is a 69 year old lady, and the two have hit it off beautifully, which is a great thing to hear, but tinged with sadness - but then I'm being a wee bit selfish, as over the last 8 weeks we have grown to love Ceri as one of our own. Our own dog, Darcy, also loves Ceri and the two are so funny to watch as they play and tease each other with toys, and play-fight.

I'm ready for my close up!
Ceri's progress has been amazing, as at the end of each working day (for Ceri), her trainer, Emily, drops her off at our house (Ceri's foster home) and is then badgered by myself and my wife as to Ceri's progress in training. I know for myself, secretly I'm hoping Emily will say, 'Well, she needs longer before we can home her', but again, me being selfish.

Darcy, our lovely girl, and Ceri's
best friend.
But on all accounts, Ceri is one of the best out of the bunch. The odd thing is, when Ceri isn't working - evenings and weekends - when we take her out for a walk, she is a bloody nightmare. She pulls that much on the lead that she'd put a Husky to shame; she looks at you when asked to sit at the curb as if to say, 'it's my day off!', and as for her recall, well that's dependant of whether Ceri is busy sniffing around or not.

Such a beautiful dog, in looks
temperament and affection.

Golden Retrievers are, shall we say, stubborn as and when it suits them. But what amazes me and puts a smile on my face is first thing in the morning, Emily puts on Ceri's harness and you see it instantly. Ceri switches into work mode and is a different dog altogether. In some ways it brings a lump to my throat, how an animal like Ceri is so very much attuned to the needs of the trainer and the job for which she has been bred and trained for. I was staggered to find out that from birth and throughout a guide dog's life the cost of training and maintaining them is £50,000.

For more information about the Guide Dogs for the Blind, please click HERE.


JoJo said...

You are so awesome to foster Ceri while she is in training. She sounds like a sweet pup. I don't think I could foster pups b/c I'd get too attached. I have 2 of my own sweet furkids who mean the world to me. :)

Amanda Heitler said...

What a fantastic thing to do. You're a man of many parts indeed.

Mark K said...

Thank you both, but it's really a very enjoyable, if bitter-sweet, experience. We're the lucky ones to have the opportunity to look after such a sweet, caring and gentle dog.

Pk Hrezo said...

Aw, she's beautiful! I used to work in an office where there were guide dogs in training. They were always so good.
We have a cream colored labradoodle and he's the smartest thing. I can see why they're used as well.
Must be hard to see them go once they're trained.

Terri Pray said...

Beautiful, and thank you for fostering her whilst she's in training. It's those who foster and train who make it truly possible for these dogs to be placed in the right hands.

Mina Lobo said...

Aw, this choked me up! I love, love, love dogs but have never lived anywhere I could have one! Congratulations on your beautiful Ceri - I'm glad she'll go to someone who'll love her as much as you and your family do.

Some Dark Romantic

Mark K said...

In all honesty, what we do as fosterers is easy - we just stick by the training rules when out walking, e.g. curb protocol maintained, to ensure the dog (Ceri) does not develope bad habits. Diets have to be strictly adhered to, and ensure their weight is strictly maintained.

Guide dogs in the UK are trained to walk on the left side to their owner. It's funny to see Ceri belligerently stick to that if you forget and try to move her to the right, then she's all fussy and insistent on being on your left. And when at the curb we have to tap the edge with our foot so that it tells Ceri we are looking for the edge and she then knows to stop. What I do find amazing is the fact the guide dogs are trained, when at a pedestrian controlled crossing, to go on their hind legs and place their front paws on the panel so the blind owner knows where the button is in order to activate the crossing lights.

But yes, we have the very easy task, the only hard part being that of giving her up.

Sarah Pearson said...

I love the idea of her refusing to behave on her 'down time'. Don't blame her, who wants to work on their day off?

Mark K said...

Hi Sarah, and thanks for dropping by.

Yup, she can be a right little madam on her 'downtime', but at least then we get to see her true personality, which is just brilliant.