Picture of Harry

Hi. My name is Harry, I'm a Guide Dog Puppy in Training and this is my Blog.

Atherton Appeal

Harry supported Guide Dogs' appeal to equip the brand new training school for the North of England at Atherton. He was keen to help as he was to be one of the first puppies to train at the new school.

Harry was at the launch of the appeal on 7th October 2008 where he got to meet the Press. One of the newspaper articles can be seen here.

August 24, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Since Harry left on May 5th, life at Number 58 has not quite been the same.  We have Lacey, our Retired Guide Dog and we’ve boarded a few pups over the summer, but Harry left a huge hole in our lives and we miss the goofy little man dreadfully. On the other hand we are so incredibly proud of him.

I was reading another Puppy Walker’s blog recently and came across the following comment that someone had left. It just about sums up everything we feel about raising a Guide Dog pup:- Your heart will break, and you’ll wonder why you did this to yourself, but then one day you’ll see a dog out working and you’ll remember the real reason you’ve put yourself through this roller coaster ride. And then you’ll be able to be incredibly proud of your pup and the work you did with him, and THEN you’ll be all excited to get your next one and do it all over again.

So, with that in mind, here’s a few photos of our first pup, Alfie that we’d like to share.

Alfie came back to stay with us for a few days over the summer and he very kindly brought his Guide Dog Owner, his wife and her dog Simon. It was absolute privilege to have him back here with us, but to see him working in harness, well, it was unbelievable . We were just so, so proud of him.

Alfie with his owner, his wife and Simon at Leeds Station

Alfie arrives at Leeds station with his owner, his wife and Guide Dog Simon

The two working dogs,  Alfie and Simon, had a great time climbing to the top of  Ilkley Moor

On the top of Ilkley Moor

On the top of Ilkley Moor

and an even better time playing around in the muddy water of the tarn.

Alfie and Simon in the tarn

Alfie and Simon in the tarn

So, we’ve spent the summer getting to know our retired dog Lacey, having other pups to stay, and playing host to our first pup – now it’s time to move forward.

And we are SO excited – a new pup will arrive at Number 58 tomorrow!

We are busy madly puppy-proofing the house as we have become somewhat lax over the last couple of months, but it’s all being done with a smile and a huge sense of anticipation.

The reality is that we just can’t wait!

August 18, 2009

Harry on the move

Following on from the previous post, we had a phone call early this morning from Harry’s trainer.

She rang to tell us that Harry is moving on to Advanced Training TODAY.

He’s off to Wales!

His advanced trainer will be ringing in a couple of weeks to give us more news. Watch this space!

August 17, 2009

Another update on Harry

A week or so ago we had a telephone call from Harry’s trainer to update us on his progress.

His training appears to be going really well, and we discussed couple of points in detail, one of which related to his motivation. The other related to Harry’s “spending” (or toilet habits).  It seems that, although he was given the opportunity to “spend” before going out, he always managed to find a little something extra to deposit while out on a training walk.

This is not the best of habits to have, a working Guide Dog should always be “clean” on a walk and this really needed to be sorted out.

On Friday we were delighted to receive a written update on his progress, which included the following:-

“Harry continues to progress with his training tasks. His motivation and willingness to take responsibility of the guiding role has improved. He enjoys regular routes with an incentive at the end, this has also helped increase his confidence and initiative levels throughout his training.

I have established his spending routine and he has been consistently clean on his walks for a while now.

You will be pleased to know Harry will be progressing onto advanced training.

Harry has been a pleasure to train, he has been a credit to you. I’m sure he is going to make someone a great guide and companion.”

Harry’s “matching form” has been completed.  This is where all the attributes of the dog are listed and details circulated to all the District Teams around the country who have  blind or visually impaired people waiting for the “right” dog.  Once he has been selected by a District Team he will move to that area and undertake his Advanced Training.

Matching the correct dog with the correct owner takes skill and experience. The owner’s length of stride, height and lifestyle all contribute to the type of guide dog they will be matched with.  Harry will be the right dog for someone, but we just don’t know who that will be, or where they live.

Now we just have to wait  to find out which part of the country Harry will be going to, to do his Advanced Training and spend his working life.

July 28, 2009

Update on Harry

Harry’s trainer Lisa did telephone at the end of May to give us an update on his progress and it sounded like all was going well for him.

He has settled in well to life at training school and he has become firm friends with his kennel mate, a long haired German Shepherd called Levi. They have a great time playing together in their kennel (which is really more of an indoor dog-run), and running around on the fields and in the sand-run areas.

Harry and his trainer

Harry and his trainer

Harry and his trainer spent the first couple of weeks getting to know each other and developing a bond. When we spoke to Lisa he was just about to start his training in harness.

This training involves learning to stop at kerbs and wait for the command to cross, not turning a corner unless told to do so, to move left or right to avoid obstacles, and to stop if there is not enough room for them both to comfortably get past. It also involves learning to find things like pedestrians crossings, steps and shops.

Lisa also told us that Harry is a bit of a slouch, especially in the mornings, when he has to be prodded to get out of his basket. Can’t say that we were surprised by that bit of feedback – Harry always did like his bed!

May 18, 2009

Hello from Harry

We always taught Harry to be a well mannered pup, and it seems he hasn’t forgotten.

He has remembered to send us a card, which came in the post today.

 Card from Harry announcing "I've Arrived"

Card from Harry announcing "I've Arrived"

May 16, 2009


Harry’s trainer rang yesterday to give us an update on his progress. We were out and missed the call.

The message on the answerphone didn’t give much away. Now we have to wait until next week. Arrrghh!!

May 6, 2009

Weekly update – 68 weeks – a new beginning

Harry’s last week with us was full of fun, although he still did his training walks, he had plenty of time to do all the things he loved to best and now he has moved on to the next stage of his career.

Harry was always meant to be one of the first pups to enter the new Guide Dog Training School at Atherton and was even invited to the ceremony to mark the laying of the Foundation Stone, so we were delighted that everything went according to plan and Harry was indeed included in the first group of dogs to go in.

Harry’s supervisor was kind enough to take a couple of photos of his arrival for us.

Harry at Atherton

Harry at Atherton

The lovely (and dedicated) kennel staff phoned us earlier today to tell us that, after his arrival yesterday, he has settled in well and already made lots of new friends – both the human and canine kind. At the moment he is staying in the “intake block” but will move on to his permanent kennel area in the next couple of days.

It didn’t take him long to figure out that there’s definitely some perks to being there, apart from all the fuss and attention he’s getting, there is the added bonus of under floor heating.

Harry immediately made himself quite at home and stretched out on the floor to advantage of such five star luxury. He always did like his creature comforts!

Harry tries out the under floor heating

Harry tries out the under floor heating

Harry will soon be meeting his new trainer and embarking on the next stage of his training.  We’re sure he’ll do really well as he’s a gentle and sensitive little soul, but he’s also inquisitive, respectful, friendly, patient and independent, all of which should help him to make the transition to a fully qualified and working Guide Dog.

As for us, we’re going to take a couple of months break, maybe do some decorating (not something that’s easy to do with a boisterous pup around), have a holiday and then we’ll embark on the whole adventure all over again with a new pup.

May 5, 2009

Goodbye Harry

Today is the day we’ve been dreading, the day Harry moves on to his formal training at the new Guide Dog Training Centre in Atherton.

Puppy class was on this morning, but we played truant, preferring to spend the last few hours with him at home and on one last walk.



Harry’s supervisor came to collect him about 30 minutes ago. He walked down the garden path without a backward glance.

We know he will be well looked after and cared for, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Harry’s purpose in life is to be a loyal guide and companion to someone who needs him more than we do.

We’ve done all we can, the rest is up to him.

May 4, 2009

Reservoir dogs

Today is Harry’s last full day here with us at Number 58, so we decided to take him on his favourite walk around a nearby reservoir.

Harry standing by the reservoir

Harry standing by the reservoir

The walk is a long one and has everything a puppy could dream of – a patch of woodland to forage in, wide open spaces to run madly about in, water to paddle in and best of all, lots of muddy ditches.

Harry loves this walk and he was keen to show Lacey ropes, he pointed out all the best spots and showed her where the best ditches were. Funnily enough, by the end of the walk Harry was relatively clean and Lacey was dripping wet and filthy.

Harry and Lacey pose by the reservoir

Harry and Lacey pose by the reservoir

May 1, 2009

Bad habits

Harry has always loved mud and can always be relied upon to find the deepest, dirtiest and muddy ditch. He perfected the art of snorkelling in mud way back in August last year, and ended up looking like this………..

Harry with a black muddy face

Harry with a black muddy face

Today, in preparation for Harry going off to training school, we took him out for another run with his soon to be kennel-mate Jenson. This time, instead of the park, we took them up on to the moors where they could run and explore together, instead of just running around on the grass. And of course, there were plenty of muddy ditches.

Harry thinks the world of his new pal and thought it would be a good idea to teach him a few of his own bad habits.  After finding the biggest and dirtiest of the ditches, he showed Jenson how to go snorkelling. Jenson was quick to learn and soon surfaced absolutely covered in mud.

And for once, Harry decided to be Mr Goody Two Shoes and pretended to be horrified.

Jenson with a muddy face and Harry

Jenson with a muddy face and Harry