South African Guide Dog Association
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?
Last week I told you about the Love Your Guide Dog event that Fiji and I attended in Fish Hoek, Cape Town. I promised to tell you a little more about the fun evening we had.
I knew it was going to be a great evening when we arrived to be met by several other guide dogs, service dogs and pups-in-training. I mean, how could it be anything but brilliant with so many four-paws around! Fiji and I had a chance to catch up with some old doggy friends and their owners, and also to meet some wonderful teams we hadn’t met in person… umm… in dog? And all the furry friends were very well behaved – I don’t think I heard any growling or snapping from anyone. Though one or two of the pups did decide to add their voices during the guest speaker’s presentation.
Talking about the guest speaker, we heard from Zelda Mycroft, mother of inimitable ability activist Chaeli Mycroft, from the Chaeli Campaign. Zelda spoke about what it’s like being a mother to a highly independent and enterprising child with a disability – a refreshingly different perspective.
And then the lights went out…As did the sound…
And no, it wasn’t load shedding. It was actually a fault in one of the sub-stations and it left the whole of the Fish Hoek area without power for the rest of the evening.
From our perspective, I don’t think it placed much of a dampener on the evening. The organisers were well prepared for any eventuality – they had gas heaters to keep the food warm, and there were candles on the tables. Of course, for those of us without sight, it was pretty much business as usual. But we did see some creative problem solving going on, with people using the flashlights on their mobile phones to enable the sign language interpreters to communicate with the hearing impaired attendees, the servers being quick on their feet navigating their way round the many dogs stretched out on the floor, and speakers who suddenly had to contend with no amplification in a venue that seats 150 people… quite a remarkable feat all round!
Nor did the lack of illumination stop us from having a fantastic evening. Even if it wasn’t quite as we’d expected it to be.
If you’d like to find out more about the Love Your Guide Dog movement, here’s a link to their Facebook group.
Of course, you’ll probably fall in love with the many photos of beautiful pups-in-training. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
As a guide dog I get to have lots of fun that my doggy sisters, Emily and Allie, don’t. Working with mom is one of them and visiting places along with the South African Guide-Dog Association is another.
I love going to visit community groups, companies and schools as part of the marketing initiative to help raise funds and awareness about my special work as a guide dog. I’ve done lots of these visits in the time I’ve been working with mom and each one is different. I’d probably say that my favourite places to visit are schools because the learners make such a fuss of me, but I’ve also met some wonderful adults who are keen to make friends.
Best of all, mom and whoever we’re working with from the SA Guide-Dog Association get to do all the work. All I have to do is wag my tail and look pretty, which is easy for me. And yet, somehow, I land up being the star of the show – every single time!
This month mom and I are going with Teagan from the SA Guide-Dog Association to a number of different Probus Chapters. We start tomorrow in Milnerton and I can’t wait!
I swear, whoever came up with the saying that it’s a dog’s life, meaning something bad, was crazy. I’m a dog, it’s my life… and I absolutely love it!
If you’d like me and mom to come and visit your company, or your child’s school it’s probably best to contact mom and chat to her – I’d love to do so and am sure mom would too! XXXXX
Don’t you think this is an amazing event? My mom and I will be the main speakers at this year’s annual SA Guide-Dog fundraising dinner in Cape Town. Okay, admittedly mom will be the one doing the speaking, but you can bet I’ll be the proudest, waggiest guide dog at the event!
In fact, I’m sure there will be lots of guide dogs and guide and service dogs-in-training there so, not only will mom get a chance to hobnob with some movers and shakers of Cape Town society… but there’ll be plenty canine moving and shaking going on as well – it’s going to be sooooo much fun!
What’s more, the dinner will be a fundraising event to help raise money to train and support more guide-dogs for visually impaired people like mom in and around Cape Town, so it’s definitely for a very good cause.
I just can’t wait to see my doggy and human friends from the SA Guide-Dog Association this weekend… and would also love to see you there – details on how to book your tickets in the advert
Umm, did I mention there will be supper, too? I wonder if they’re going to cater for all us dogs as well?
I have been quiet over the past few weeks – not because I’ve had nothing to say, but rather because I have been busy starting a new phase of my life.
On 28 February I started working with my new guide dog, Fiji. And over the past month my life has been full of change – getting to know Fiji and learning how we can work together effectively. It has been a month filled with learning and fun!
This is not to say that I have been idle – I have several workshops and presentations planned for the coming months, am moving forward with my book “A Different Way of Seeing: Living life Without Sight”, and have started creating a keynote on the leadership lessons I have learned from my guide dogs.
You’ll be hearing more about all of these in the coming weeks, I promise…