Paws for Thought

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Pause for Thought on Being Grounded

The image shows a yellow Labrador with her forehead furrowed as if frowning

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji.

I’ve been getting more and more angry over the past few months. It feels like Mom is simply never around anymore – first she went to Europe for a whole month. She had only been home for a few weeks when she suddenly disappeared again, this time to Mauritius. And again left me behind.

I’ve had enough! My patience is totally at an end. I’m putting my paws down firmly – all four of them, and have decided that  Mom is officially grounded from now until I say differently. Without exception, she is not allowed to leave the house without me.

Of course I will allow her to come walking with me, and she can even go shopping or visiting friends. But only if I’m with her. Because I am sick and tired of being left behind when she goes away.

Please don’t think that I don’t enjoy having Aunty Claire to play with when Mom and Dad are away. Because she’s lovely and is loads of fun. It’s just that I’m a guide dog and my place is with my mom, wherever she is. So I think I should always go along with her when she disappears

So, like I said – Mom can go out if she’s with me. But otherwise she is grounded till further notice.

And that’s just the way it’s going to be!

Paws for Thought: Waggy Birthday, Mom!

the image shows a close-up of the face of a yellow Labrador and it looks like she is smiling at the camera.

Hello everybody, it’s me – Fiji – once again stealing one of Mom’s blog’s because she’s away… again.

Anyway, even though Mom’s in Mauritius, wherever that is, I still want to wish her a very waggy birthday for yesterday. Because she is very special to me and my doggy siblings and we want her to know we thought about her on her birthday yesterday.

I’m already planning a belated birthday celebration for her for next week when she returns. So far I plan to wake her up bright and early by jumping up and pulling the covers off her, wagging my tail as fast as I can to show her that I love her. Then I’m going to demand that she lets me take her for a birthday walk, followed by an extra-long birthday play with me. I’ll probably sneak off for a nap after that, to give Mom a chance to recover from the excitement of the morning. But I’ll definitely make sure I wake up in time for her to give me and my doggy siblings an extra-special yummy birthday supper. Don’t you think that will be exciting for her? I’m sure she’ll feel very special.

Anyway, I still have to do all the detailed planning for her belated special day, so I better start on that. And, since I think best when I’m lying down with my eyes tightly shut, I’m just going to trot off to my ultra-comfy bed.

So, till next time…

Paws for Thought on My Favourite Fictional Dog

the image shows the cover of the book Over Every Hurdle by Barbara Hinske

 

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji

I’m bouncing up and down with excitement because I have wonderful news to share with you all – my favourite fictional guide dog is back!

His name is Garth and he’s the main dog in the Guiding Emily series by Barbara Hinske. And the exciting news is that Over Every Hurdle, the third book in the series  is being launched in just two days. I know mom has already pre-ordered the book and can’t wait to snuggle up at her feet to find out what Garth has been up to since we last read about him and his human, Emily.

Garth is such a cool dog! He’s a black Labrador like my friend Billy.  And Garth says and does so many things that my mom and I can relate to. We often laugh at his antics. Because he is just like me and my real-life guide dog family. He’s full of fun, but he takes his job as Emily’s guide very, very seriously. Just like all of us actual guide dogs do.

If you haven’t met Garth and Emily yet and like dogs or great stories, I promise you that you’ll enjoy reading about them. Over Every Hurdle is the third book in the series- the first two are  Guiding Emily and The Unexpected Path.

There are still two days to pre-order the book, so don’t waste time – jump up right now, grab your leash and go order them!

Here’s a link to find all the books in the series on Amazon.

I can’t wait for my and Mom’s copy to land in our Kindle library on Thursday. Wag, wag, wag, wag, wag…

Paws for Thought on Humans and Clothing

The image shows a yellow Labrador wearing a dark brown guide dog harness

 
Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji:
 
As you no doubt realized, Mom is still away overseas. So I’m grabbing the opportunity to steal a few extra blog posts while she’s away.
 
Anyway, as I was lying in my bed this morning, still dreaming about the mountains of food that I imagine must exist in Hungary – wherever that is – I began thinking about the preparations Mom and Dad made before going on holiday.
 
Which got me thinking about human clothing and how odd it is. The more I thought about it, the more confused I got. Because human clothing just doesn’t make sense to me at all.
 
I’m a dog, so I always wear the same collar, no matter what the weather is like, the time  of year, or where I’m planning to go. In fact, the same is true of my guide dog harness. I only have one and I wear it wherever I’m going, if I’m working.
 
But not humans. Oh no, they have to complicate things. They have lots of clothing, with different colours, different styles-  the variety seems endless. Some of their clothing is smarter than other bits. And it seems to come in lots of different forms – dresses, trousers, skirts, long sleeved tops, short sleeved shirts. It makes my head spin.
 
Mom is particularly odd because sometimes she wears dresses and sometimes she wears trousers. At least Dad always wears trousers, so he’s less confusing to me.
 
Humans also seem to get unhappy with their clothing often. Which is the only reason I can think of that they change their clothing so much. Sometimes they might change three times in a single day. I’d be exhausted if I had to constantly change my collar or harness. Why don’t they simply wear the same thing all the time?
 
They even have different types of clothing for different activities. Dad wears one type of clothes when we go running and another when we walk. And they change their clothing if we go out to visit people. How silly is that? Can you imagine me changing my collar every time I go to visit my cousins Pixie, Baillie and Huey?
 
For some reason, time of day also seems to play a role in the clothing they choose. Because they change out of perfectly good clothing and immediately replace it with other clothing before climbing into bed at night. But they don’t do it if they take a nap in the daytime. Which confuses me even more.
 
The only thing about human clothing that I can sort of understand is that they wear more clothing when the weather gets cold. Because I also like to sleep under a blanket then.
 
I’ve tried to ask my mom about it and she pats me and tells me it’s a human thing. Which doesn’t  strike me as a particularly good explanation, because  it doesn’t answer my question at all.
 
If I were a human, I would have only one piece of clothing and I’d wear it the whole time. Okay, maybe I’d have a second item of clothing for when I’m working, just like my guide dog harness. I think that would make far more sense, don’t you?
 
So, maybe  I should simply accept the fact that I will never understand the human obsession with clothing and leave it at that.
 
PS: Like I said, Mom is still away, and all us doggies are having lots of fun with the humans we’re looking after until Mom and Dad return.

Paws for Thought on Birthdays and Holidays

Yellow labrador
 
Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji.
 
Today is my birthday. I’m not going to tell you how old I am because a lady never reveals her age. Well, to be honest, I’m still unsure if I should be counting in human or doggy years so I just thought I would ignore the whole thing. Except for the important fact that it’s my birthday and I’m getting spoilt!
 
The only thing that is not great about today is that Mom and Dad are getting ready to go away on holiday. Without us doggies. Admittedly they haven’t been travelling during the past three years because of COVID. It’s been wonderful having them spend so much time with us, so we can’t really complain that they’re going now. But us doggies still don’t like that they’re going away without us. Especially me, because I’m meant to go everywhere with my mom so I can guide her around.
 
Please don’t worry that we might be lonely because we always have people who come and stay with us and keep us entertained. And give us food, of course. But we love having Mom and Dad around and we miss them when they go away.
 
Yesterday I asked Mom where they’re going. Not that it matters, because her answer made no sense to me. But they’re going to Europe – wherever that is – specifically to Austria, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.
 
I wasn’t all that interested in the details until my mom mentioned Hungary. because I get that way a lot – hungry, I mean. Though I don’t know why it’s spelled differently. Anyway, I think I might like to go to Hungary, because I imagine it must be filled with mountains of yummy food just waiting to be eaten. Because why else would they call it Hungary?
 
I’m sure Mom and Dad are going to have lots of fun on their holiday. And me and my doggy siblings will wait eagerly for their return. When we’re not busy dreaming of, and consequently being,  Hungary.
 
I’ll pop in and chat to you here on Mom’s blog every now and then, since Mom will probably be too busy having adventures to sit down and write. So, for now, I’m in charge of the Beyond Sight blog… What fun!

Paws for Thought on Helping Mom Out

The image shows a yellow Labrador lying on the ground with her head on the floor.

 
Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji!
 
I know I don’t usually write for Mom’s blog in the middle of the month, but Mom has been so busy recently that I thought I would help her out by blogging for her. After all, I am  a guide dog, and my task is to help her where I can.
 
I’m not overly worried about how busy Mom is,  except when it gets in the way of the things she needs to do to look after me and my doggy siblings. I mean, last week Dad had to feed us supper twice because Mom was in meetings. Usually supper time is 5:00 PM, so I did begin to worry when it got to 5:15 PM and we still hadn’t had supper. Till Dad came to the rescue and everything was fine again. 
 
So, while I’m not overly worried about how busy Mom has been, I am curious about what is taking up so much of her time. I decided to put my nose to the ground and sniff out what’s been going on.
 
One of the projects Mom’s working on has something to do with blind photography. She’s working with a professional photographer who is visually impaired. Her name is Karren Visser and you can find out more about her at www.karrenvisser.com or on her new Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KarrenMVisser/
 
Mom is also busy creating content to update her website. It seems to be taking a long time, but I hope she will manage to find the right words for everything she wants to say. I overheard her talking to Dad and it sounds like the new site will be launched in October, so that’s something to look forward to. I wonder if they’ll have a party for the launch like they did for my book? Because that would be fun!
 
Mom is also planning a workshop for writers who want to turn their books into audio books and sell them through the major audio book retailers. She did that with her own book recently and wants to share her experience to help others. I guess that makes Mom a bit like a guide dog, too – because she is happy to show other people the way to go.  And maybe I can ask her if we can make my book an audio book, too, if I wag nicely.
 
Those are the main tasks that are keeping  Mom tied to her laptop, but she’s also busy with other things as well.
 
She’s been looking after my doggy sister Allie, who has had a soft tissue injury in her paw and has been hopping around on three legs. Mom is trying  to limit the amount Allie runs around and it seems to be working. But I think Allie feels a bit silly only being allowed to go outside if she’s wearing her new super long leash so Mom can control her movement.
 
Allie almost pulled Mom over a few days ago when she suddenly leapt away. Mom was busy on her phone and was taken totally by surprise. Of course, the phone went flying and, though I tried to show Mom that it was under the table, she insisted on looking on the ground and everywhere else first.
 
Anyway, I thought I would help Mom out by writing her blog for her for this week. Hopefully her life will be a bit quieter and she’ll be able to update you herself next time. In the meantime, I’ve  been watching her draw up her To Do List for today and it’s exhausted me so I’m going to take a nap.  
 
Wags from me and my doggy siblings, Allie, Emily and Onyx.

Paws for Thought on Freedom and Independence

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji.

Freedom and independence are very important to us guide dogs. After all, our purpose is to give our humans a greater degree of freedom and independence to do the things they want.

So I wagged when I saw that the theme of the latest ad campaign from the South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind is all about freedom. If you haven’t seen the advert yet, here it is – you really ought to watch it!

Mom and I attended the campaign launch in Cape Town last week. It was lots of fun, especially since I spent the morning surrounded by some of my bestest friends who are guide dogs and pups-in-training. In total there were 16 dogs there, so I won’t bore you with a long list. But I did have a chance for a catch up with pup-in-training Yale, because she and her mom gave us a lift to the event. And I also got to chat to guide dogs Billy, Gladys and Ronnie to share notes on some of the strange things our humans had been doing recently. I also got to meet Oslo, who is a service dog, so his job is a bit different from mine, but is still really important to give freedom to his human Andrew.

A few people have asked Mom if she and I are in the video. We’re not, but my nephew Obie is, together with his mom, Anel. I’m very proud of Obie for his acting skills – he looks fabulous! And I can now tell everyone that I’m related to a movie star, can’t I?

Anyhow, I really think you should watch the advert and see how important we guide dogs are in helping our humans. Just so you don’t have to scroll back to find the link, here it is again: https://youtu.be/7RQ7vspyLLc

Paws for Thought on Wet Ground, Little Airplanes and Photographs

Plane
 
Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji.
 
I’ve told you before that I sometimes think humans do strange things. I found myself thinking that again recently when me, Mom and my friends from the South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind went on an adventure together.
 
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying it was strange that we went on an adventure together. After all, that happens fairly often. But the actual adventure was peculiar. At least to me it was.
 
You see, we went to a quiet part of Cape Town International airport and walked up to a little airplane. Then Aunty Cheryl and Aunty Tania made me stand and sit on the wet ground while they took photographs. Aunty Cheryl gave me treats every now and then, especially when I looked at the camera and gave my bestest doggy smile.  
 
What was strange was that I had to sit beside the little plane on my own, while Mom just stood behind Aunty Tania and her camera. It was strange because my job is to be with Mom and guide her. And because I take my job as a guide dog seriously, I felt I ought to run to Mom every few minutes to check that she was still okay. Then I would run back and sit down on the wet ground again so Aunty Tania could take more photographs.
 
At least I understood why Aunty Cheryl had insisted on giving me a thorough brushing at the training centre. I don’t really enjoy being brushed so I tried to hide behind my mom, but Aunty Cheryl didn’t give me a choice. And at least I knew I was looking my beautifulest for the photographs.
 
Then the morning  got even weirder – Mom climbed into the little plane and flew away. Without me. Without even asking me if I wanted to go with her, which of course I did. At least Aunty Cheryl and Aunty Tania also got left behind, so I wasn’t on my own. But still, Mom flew away, which was extremely naughty of her.
 
Eventually the plane brought Mom back and I ran up to her and jumped up and down while remonstrating with her. Mom simply laughed and patted me. Which was nice, but didn’t actually answer any of the questions I had about where she had gone and why she hadn’t taken me with her.
 
So, like I said, it was all very weird.
 
Afterwards Mom explained that the photographs were going to be used in the 2023 calendar that the South African Guide-Dogs Association  for the Blind brings out each year. Which means there will be a photo of me hanging on people’s walls for a whole month next year! Along with lots of other photographs of beautiful guide dogs and guide dogs in training. I promise I’ll let you know when the calendar comes out so you can also have a picture of me hanging on your wall.
 
Mom asked me to tell you that she’ll let you know all about her flight in the little airplane next time. Because she’s still wagging about  it. Well, she would be wagging if she had a tail. So, watch out for her next article.

Paws for Thought  – When Guide Dog Billy Came to Stay

The image shows a black Labrador.
 
Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji.
 
The most amazing thing happened to me last weekend – I had a visit from one of my cousin guide dogs, whose Dad had human stuff to do and couldn’t take his guide dog with him.
 
Guide dog Billy is great. He is a black Labrador, and is lots bigger than me. In fact, he’s even bigger than my oldest doggy sister, Emily. Billy is only 3 years old and still loves to play. Billy, my sister Allie and I turned the garden into a high speed racetrack and spent much of the weekend chasing one another around.
 
Billy came with us when Mom and I went to try adaptive golf, which Mom will tell you about soon. In fact, I think Billy had most fun trying to catch the balls that the humans were playing with. It certainly kept him busy while I sat and whined encouragement at my mom.
 
Unfortunately, my doggy brother Onyx didn’t like Billy and Mom and Dad had to be creative in finding ways to keep them separated so Onyx wouldn’t snarl at Billy. All of us girl dogs thought Onyx was being silly because Billy is such fun.
 
Okay, I have to admit that I also barked at Billy when he first arrive. I wanted to make it clear that Mom is mine and I’m not sharing her with another guide dog. But as soon as Billy told me that he already has a fulltime job guiding his dad, I was okay with him coming to stay.
 
So, if Onyx wanted to sulk and not get to play with Billy, well, that was his problem.
 
Now that Billy has gone home, life at our house has gone back to normal. Which is why I’m writing this post rather than chasing other dogs round the garden. But maybe I will go out and play now that I’m done here.

Paws for Thought on Life Not Turning Out the Way You Expect

 the image shows a woman with shoulder-length dark brown hair standing with a pale yellow Labrador sitting at her feet, wearing a guide dog harness, and a black Labrador lying next to her. Beside the woman is a table with merchandise arranged on it.

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji!
 
You know, sometimes life just doesn’t turn out the way you expect.
 
I don’t think my expectations were totally  crazy, do you? After all, I went with Dad to collect his race number on Friday afternoon. I was with Mom and Dad when they drove to Steenberg Estate on Saturday morning. And I stood with the runners as they gathered at the starting line. Of course I expected that I was going to run with them.
 
Which was why I started barking as the announcements began. After all, I always translate the human instructions for the other dogs at the parkrun. And there were several guide-dogs-in-training at the trail run, so I had to do my job. Even if Mom tried to get me to stop.
 
I listened carefully as they counted down to the start. And then I sprang forward as fast as I could. Except that Mom was holding my leash and harness. So I couldn’t go anywhere.
 
And the runners left me behind. I couldn’t believe it!  
 
I did get to hang out with Aunty Jackie and my doggy friend Sid at the SA Guide-Dog Association stand. Which was a lot of fun. Just not what I had expected to do.
 
Then, as the runners began to cross the finish line for the race I realized what a fantastic spot we were in – everyone could see us and loads of runners came over to say hello. As did their families and supporters. I was constantly surrounded by friendly people all wanting to pat me and remind Mom how amazing I am.
 
There was even a young human puppy who bought herself a guide dog toy and came and showed it to me – I politely sniffed it and assured her she had made an excellent choice in her new puppy toy.
 
I also spent time chatting to the other learner guide dogs to tell them what a special job they are training for. Scout, Zakele, Luca and Goldie, the youngest and fluffiest Golden Retriever puppy who has just joined the team in Cape Town had lots to tell me as well, and it was great to spend some time catching up on all the news of what is going on at the training centre. And I also got to say hello  to Aunty Cheryl, who taught me all about how to look after Mom as her guide dog. So it was a wonderful morning.
 
But still, I would much rather have gone with the runners. Oh well, sometimes life just doesn’t turn out exactly how you expect it to, does it?

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