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 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 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.

April 29, 2009

Weekly update – 67 weeks

This week Harry has been learning how to share. He has settled down well to life with another dog in the house, and no longer pesters Lacey to play with him all the time. The two of them get along really well, although Harry still bolts his dinner to try and get to Lacey’s bowl before she finishes, ever hopeful that he may get a second helping. There is little or no chance of that.

Harry loves to go out with Lacey especially in the car, when he is always such a gentleman and always allows her to jump in the back first. At least we like to think he’s being well mannered, but it’s more likely that he just wants to make sure she’s not going somewhere else and he’s not going to miss out on something more exciting.

Harry and Lacey in the back of the car

Harry and Lacey in the back of the car

For most of the week Harry has been busy with a farewell tour. He has attended his last Pilates class, made a last visit to the Girl Guides, visited the library and most of the local shops, so he can say goodbye to all the shop keepers who have been so patient and supportive over the last year or so. He’s even made one last visit to our favourite coffee shop in town, a place that he loves an awful lot, because he knows he has time for a quick power nap while we’re in there.

We’ve also had a fair few visitors who have called to see him one last time to wish him well before he sets off on his big adventure. Harry loves having visitors and has certainly lapped up all the attention.

The rest of the time Harry has spent doing the thing he loves best – chilling out, while trying to roast himself in the sunniest spot in the garden.

Harry soaking up the sun in the garden

Harry soaking up the sun in the garden

April 22, 2009

Weekly update – 66 weeks

This week has been a huge week for Harry.

It’s been all about forging new relationships – first of all he had to deal with the fact that there is now another dog in the house. Lacey has come to spend her retirement here with us and Harry was delighted to see her, he couldn’t believe his luck – a four legged playmate all of his own, someone to share his toys with and someone who always says yes to a game of tug.

Harry and Lacey

Harry and Lacey

On the other hand, when Lacey sneaked into his basket while he was elsewhere he wasn’t so sure that her being here was good thing, but he soon got over the shock and just climbed in right beside her. There was plenty of room for two, but he did sulk for a few minutes.

Harry sulks while sharing his bed with Lacey

Harry sulks while sharing his bed with Lacey

Lacey’s arrival has been a huge learning curve for Harry – he was totally flabbergasted when she strode up to his toy basket and helped herself to a bone that was hidden in the bottom of it.  Harry has never been brave enough to put his head in and forage around for himself, but he has always been quick to copy and within five minutes he was routing around in the basket himself looking for his favourite toy.

Harry’s other big adventure this week has been getting to know Jenson – the pup he will share a kennel with when he goes off to training school. They had a free run in the park together and then lay quietly while the humans stopped for a much needed coffee and a chat.

The two of them had such a grand time running around together and played so much and so hard, we’re thinking they’ll be like human “freshers” and won’t be getting much sleep when they go off to “university”.

Harry and Jenson

Harry and Jenson

April 15, 2009

Weekly update – 65 weeks

This week Harry has been back to a regular routine of training walks in town and travelling by car and public transport. He’s made another couple of car journeys up to the North East with us and even sampled the delights of a motorway service station.

Harry strutting his stuff at the motorway services

Harry strutting his stuff at the motorway services

Over the last few weeks Harry’s confidence has increased even more – he’s now got to the stage where he can walk past another dog and not turn a hair. Quite a change from the young pup we had that used to lie down and pretend to be invisible if there was another dog within 50 yards. He seems to be much more comfortable in his own skin now and ready to take on any challenge that might come his way. He no longer jumps when a loud motorbike passes him by and roadworks are now seen as to be something to be navigated, rather than fearful of. Harry also now takes himself off to his basket in the evening when he’s tired, rather than wait for us to tell him to go to bed. He’s just so grown up!

All of these things means that our job is coming to an end and Harry is ready to take the next step on his journey to becoming a qualified Guide Dog. And that next step is looming pretty large on the horizon – a few days ago we received that phone call, the one that all puppy walkers dread – Harry’s date for moving on to training school.

Harry will leave during the first week in May, probably on the 5th, which means he now has only a little less than 3 weeks left here with us at Number 58.

Not that he knows, or even understands, he’s just been too busy enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

Harry sitting in the middle of a patch of daffodils

Harry sitting in the middle of a patch of daffodils

April 8, 2009

Weekly update – 64 weeks

Harry has had another week of turmoil in the house – the builders have been back. Harry was delighted to see them and greeted them at the door like long lost friends.

This time, the work to be done was upstairs, so Harry’s bed in the kitchen was left undisturbed, but Harry wasn’t interested in his bed – he just wanted to help upstairs. He didn’t make a nuisance of himself, was totally unfazed by all the banging noises and was quite happy just to watch, but he had to be where the action was. He was so comfortable with what was going on that we half expected to see him passing tools to the builders when they were needed.

Harry, the builder and their shared tools

Harry, the builder and their shared tools

This week Harry also got to go on a brief trip to the Lake District where we met up with our previous pup Alfie. The pair of them had a great time together and Harry loved every minute.

Harry and Alfie - both posing for the camera

Harry and Alfie - both posing for the camera

Although Alfie is still only 2 years old, he is now a fully qualified working Guide Dog and appears to be so grown up. Harry was totally in awe of him and copied everything he did. On our walk in the afternoon Harry carefully watched Alfie cock his leg against a tree and then immediately copied him. This was a major milestone, as up until now Harry has still been curtseying like a girl and we struggled to stifle our cheers and amusement,

As far as Harry was concerned, this trip was definitely the highlight of his week, he even got to go swimming with his hero.

Harry and Alfie swimming together in the lake

Harry and Alfie swimming together in the lake

April 1, 2009

Weekly update – 63 weeks

This week Harry’s world has returned to normal, the builders have gone and his bed has finally been moved back to it’s rightful position – the prime location in the kitchen from where he can see everything that goes on. He’s obviously delighted because it’s proving very difficult to get him out of it.

Harry in his bed

Harry in his bed

Harry has never been a “morning” kind of pup, he much prefers to take things at his own pace first thing in the morning. In the early days he was so pleased to see us that he would literally launch himself out of his bed as soon as we turned the handle on the kitchen door. Then he got to the stage where, although he was pleased to see us, he didn’t really want to get out of bed, so he would just lie there and thump his tail in an enthusiastic greeting. Now when we get downstairs in the morning he is all “Oh Good Grief!  Is it that time already? Please, please, please, just go back to bed and hit the snooze button.”

Harry has done all his regular training walks this week, into town and to Leeds City Centre, and travelled by train, bus and car. In fact he has spent an awful lot of time in the car as we  travelled up to the North East on a number of occasions for family commitments. He didn’t complain and was exceptionally well behaved while we were there, he even enjoyed the walks he had around an unfamiliar town, although he soon figured out where the park was and became desperate to go and play with all the new dogs he could see there as we walked past.

Although Harry appears to sleep for most of the time on long car journeys, and he’s probably had more sleep than he needs this week, when the morning sun streams through the windows in the front room (something that only happens once spring has arrived) it’s just too much of a temptation for him to resist. He claims his spot in the sun and promtly starts to snooze, occasionally opening one eye just to check he’s not missing out on anything.

Harry snoozing in the sun

Harry snoozing in the sun

His time spent cooking himself like this has probably been the highlight of his week. Now all we have to do is explain to him that the builders will be back again in a few days.

March 25, 2009

Weekly updates – 62 weeks

Harry’s week has been full of turmoil this week. It started last Wednesday at Pilates class. He was quite happily enjoying a snooze (Pilates long ago ceased to be of interest to him – now he just views the whole experience as a great excuse for a power nap) when all of a sudden the fire alarm woke him from his dreams. He immediately jumped up looking for the source of the noise. He didn’t panic or even bark, but he did need to check where everyone was and what they were doing.

Back at home everything was upside down with the arrival of builders to do some work on the house. He soon became really good friends with them and every time they stopped for tea, Harry could be found enticing them to play.

Harry checking out the builder's tools

Harry checking out the builder's tools

Harry took a great deal of interest in everything that was going on and spent a lot of time preoccupied with their supply of tools, especially the locked tool box. Every evening after they left he had to do a full inspection of what they’d left behind.

Harry has been back into Leeds city centre again this week. He really enjoys these trips – the busier the better as far as he’s concerned. He loves walking through department stores as the scents and smells change for department to department so he never gets bored.

We still have some work to do with him though, his dislike of shoe shopping hasn’t improved. All that sitting round waiting for people to try things on bores him to pieces – it’s a typical male response, except he shows his displeasure by lying down, going to sleep and then snoring very loudly.

Harry out shopping

Harry out shopping