guide dog stories

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 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 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?

Waggy Anniversary, Me and Mom!

The image shows a dark-haired woman hugging a pale yellow Labrador

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji.

Can you believe that Mom and I have been partnered for six years? I can’t. In some ways it feels like she has always been my mom. And in some ways it feels like it was only a short time ago that I walked into that room at the South African Guide-Dog training centre and met her.

We’ve had so much fun over the last six years, and have been to lots of interesting places. And met lots of wonderful humans. And, of course, we’ve written a book together, based on my life and thoughts as a guide dog.

I must be honest and say that I still don’t always understand the things that humans do and why. So I’ll keep being curious and let you know when things don’t make sense to me. And thank you to those who have replied to my questions in previous blogs – your answers have really helped me.

Of course, along with all the fun and exploring there have also been a few not so good bits – like vet visits, Mom going places and leaving me at home, and yucky anti-flea medicine that all us dogs have to take every now and then. But, on the whole, my life with Mom has been wonderful so far. And I’m sure I will have more new and exciting adventures as we continue working together.

Like the other day when Mom accidentally dropped a peach on the floor. I quickly grabbed it and watched as Mom scanned the floor looking for it. With me holding it gently in my mouth the whole time. Eventually Mom gave up and I ran back to my bed to gobble down my prize. I’d never tasted a peach before and it was yummy. Of course, it would have been even better if it had been meat, but Mom is a vegetarian so that wouldn’t have been possible.

Last week I took Mom to get her booster COVID vaccination, and everyone said I was lovely. I wagged my tail the whole time we were there. But I have to admit that Mom was much braver than I am when I have injections – I usually cry. I was very proud of my mom.

I want to say huge wags and celebrations to me and Mom for our sixth anniversary. Overall I think Mom has been well behaved and has maintained the high standards of training that she got when we first met on 28 February, 2016. Here’s to many more years of fun and adventures together!

PS: If you’d like to find out more about my book, it’s available from Mom’s website or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09FGYPYP4?ref_=pe_3052080_397670860

Or you can get the first chapter for free at https://www.loisstrachan.com/paws-for-thought/

My Book is Here – Wag, Wag, Wag!

the image shows a close up of a yellow Labrador’s face

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji,

I’m jumping up and down and bounding around in ecstatic circles to tell you that my book has finally been published.

Paws for Thought: Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Guide Dog is full of stories about me and my human and doggy family, from my puppyhood right up to the present. Although, to be fair, it’s not entirely up to the present because we had to stop writing so we could get the book ready to be read by you. So we decided to make the end of 2020 our cut-off. But let’s be honest, what with the pandemic and all, not much has happened in 2021 anyway. Except that we’ve been busy with the book.

You may be wondering why you should read my book.

It is full of stories about me and my doggy siblings, lots of stories about the many different ways I help my mom, information about the work a guide dog does, and explains why I think humans are sometimes strange. And it’s fun.

Maybe I should let you know what someone else thinks of the book. Because I admit I’m a little biased because I wrote it… with a little bit of help from my mom. Here’s a review from Amazon.
“Fiji the Labrador retriever is a witty little blond that shares her adventures with her owner in a fun and educational way. It is a fun and easy read about the challenges Lois and Fiji faces together. It would be a great gift for dog lovers or a book for the family to read together for young and old.”

I’m so happy that people are reading my story. I’m going to buy lots of dog treats with all my royalties… And maybe I’ll even share them with my doggy siblings, Emily, Allie and Onyx.

Oh, I almost forgot, here’s how you can buy the book for yourself:
Amazon/Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09FGYPYP4?ref_=pe_3052080_397670860

South African paperback: https://www.loisstrachan.com/order-form/

Update on Fiji’s Book

The image shows Lois and Fiji It’s been a while since I updated you on Fiji’s book. And things are starting to move fast now!

Fiji and I have finished creating the content and the book has been proofread. Our next step is to add the photographs and to create a cover for the book… with Fiji on it, of course. Then we need to start shifting into the publishing and marketing phase. Which is going to be exciting for us both!

To my surprise, the book has turned out to be 27 000 words. Considering I anticipated it would be around 20 000 at a stretch, I was amazed to find it just continued to grow. Fiji and I kept adding stories. It’s been so much fun creating a book about Fiji’s perspective of the world. And those who have read it so far, including her puppy walkers, said they enjoyed it.

We can’t wait to share it with you! It will still be a while before it’s available. In the meantime, here is another short extract from the book. This time drawn from what happened when Fiji and I arrived home after being on guide dog training.

Here’s how Fiji remembers that experience:

“Mom and the man had a serious conversation on the trip to wherever we were going. I heard my name a few times but couldn’t figure out what it was about. I rather enjoyed snoozing contentedly at mom’s feet, curled up and occasionally resting my head and my front left paw on mom’s seat. Whatever they were talking about I knew I’d be fine.

The car eventually stopped and I lifted my head to stare curiously around me. The man got out of the car and closed the door, lowering his window to let in some cool air since mom and I were staying in the car. Then he opened the front door and three dogs bounded out and ran onto the grass.

I immediately wanted to go and join them and tried to climb through the open car window. Mom grabbed my collar and held me back and I started to whine and wriggle to get to the dogs. So mom opened her car door and I took a flying leap out of the car and went to introduce myself to my new siblings.

Introductions were quickly made, amidst much tail wagging and tentative play. Emily and I became friends right away – she was seven years old but was still happy to play with me. At fifteen years old, Calvin was already ancient by then and was a little grumpy, and mostly ignored me. But that was okay, because I had lots to explore and mom and Emily to play with. The third dog, Eccles, was mom’s retired guide dog and she seemed to be friendly as well, though she didn’t really want to play much either. She also tried lecturing me on how to look after mom best – as if I needed to be told! Still, I thought it would be disrespectful to ignore her so listened to what she had to say… before rushing off to explore some more.

Eccles and I had a polite conversation about who would get to sleep beside mom on the floor next to the bed. She felt she ought to retain that right. But I told her it was my spot now, since I was mom’s proper guide dog. The conversation went on for quite some time. And eventually we agreed to take it in turns – with whomever got there first winning the coveted spot. Which, of course, meant that I got to sleep nearest to mom most nights. Because I was so much younger and quicker than Eccles, and would race to the bed as soon as we’d had our night-time biscuits.”
We’ll let you know how to get hold of the book soon, I promise…

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