Paws for Thought on Adventures in Nature

A group of seven adults sitting under a large tree with two guide dogs, a yellow Labrador and a larger black Labrador.

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji.

I’m so sorry I didn’t post last week like I was supposed to – I took a short, little nap and suddenly my time to post had come and gone. So I asked Mom if I could post this week instead. And she agreed. I think she is happy to have someone else share the work of writing articles every now and then.

Today I want to talk about nature. Well, about Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens specifically. Because I’ve been there twice – once as a just dog and once as a guide dog. And each visit was wonderful, yet totally different.

Let’s talk about my first time there. I went running with Dad on the mountain one evening and we cut through a little of these big beautiful natural gardens on the way back to the car. It was amazing. There were so many incredible smells and sounds around me as I ran. But, you know, sometimes when you’re running you don’t have the time or space to focus on what’s surrounding you – it’s all about just running and covering yourself with as much glorious mud as you can. Because when you’re not on guide dog harness, you’re allowed to simply play. Especially when it’s rainy, wet and muddy. I remember how hard my mom laughed when I got home. I also recall her asking me if I was trying to masquerade as a chocolate Labrador. My response was a highly self-satisfied wag.

So, that was my first visit to Kirstenbosch Gardens. My second was a lot more sedate and definitely less muddy. I got to take Mom to Kirstenbosch Gardens as part of a photography workshop. Of course, I knew I wouldn’t be able to play in mud this time because I would be guide dogging, but at least I’d be able to spend some quality time sniffing all the rich and diverse smells and perhaps even spying a squirrel or two – not chasing them, of course, but glaring at them to make them run away.

I was thrilled to meet up with my guide dog friend, Billy, when we got to Kirstenbosch. I hadn’t known that he would be bringing his human Charlie along on the workshop. As I sniffed hello at him, I started to tell him about all we might find on our adventure.

Except that Billy seemed more excited to see all the grass. I was like, but it’s only grass? My garden at home is full of that. Come and sniff these plants instead – they’re much more exciting! But Billy told me he had never seen so much grass in one place and that all he wanted to do was explore. Not that he also didn’t want to smell the plants and trees and things, but first he wanted to give time to the grass.

So I left Billy with Charlie and the other humans he was spending time with and trotted off with Mom to see what we could find.

After sniffing plants and leaves for a long time, all the humans and us guide dogs sat down and rested under a big tree. It was good to rest for a little while because that amount of concentrated sniffing and exploring can get very tiring. And Dad even took a photograph of us all. If you look at the picture, you’ll see how many humans came along to spend time with us guide dogs. And for those who are like Mom and Charlie, and can’t see the image, there are seven people and two dogs in the photo.

It was a very special day. I’m sure Mom will tell you about all that the humans did while Billy and I had fun exploring. But that will only be next week.

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