I have been busy learning to read and write over the last two months. I am real nervous about publishing my first ever newsletter. I know I can never be exactly like Harper but hope that his followers will bear with me while I learn the trade.
For those of you who can’t see my photo, I am a white Labrador, some might even describe me white as a polo bear. I am a little bit taller than Harper and a bit longer in my body. Fortunately, I can still fit under the dashboard in front of Lindy when we travel in a car. Harper and I share the same Chinese Horoscope and Star Sign with our birthdays being 12 years and 1 day apart. I will celebrate my 2nd birthday on the 22nd of this month.
I have just spent International Women’s Day (8th March) with lots of guide dog puppies and new graduates at the Federal Golf Course in Canberra. This was the inaugural graduation ceremony held outside the training centre. Over 150 Guide Dogs supporters were there to witness the new Guide Dogs receive their harnesses. This is a little different to when Lindy graduated from University. Back then, they all had to wear those black gowns with colourful stripes around their necks and a funny square hat. They walked up to the stage and receives their scrolls. Whereas when we Guide Dogs graduate, we receive our harnesses. The harness is certainly a lot more useful than those gowns and square hats. We make great use of our harnesses throughout our working life, and yet when was the last time we see human graduates wear their gowns and square hats when they work!
I was able to spend a bit of time with puppy Wanda. Her dream is to become a Guide Dog when she grows up. As I now have four months experience as a fully fledged Guide Dog, I was able to pass on some of my wisdom to Wanda. The Cameraman from the Canberra Times caught a glimpse of us. You can see the photo and story through the link.
As part of my learning I have read through some of Harper’s newsletters. Wow! what a life he had! I sure will have very large paws to fill. Lindy told me just being who I am is all I need to do. So here it is…
My first four months as a fully fledged guide dog
Lindy and I met outside the Dunc Gray Velodrome on 4 November when I got driven over there by Instructor Carla and Instructor Kerry. I was not sure what to expect, so I just showed off what I have learnt. I guided Lindy around this huge building just before the rain came down on us. We then walked inside the building into what Lindy called the ‘infield’. I couldn’t quite work out how that can be a field when there was no grass or dirt! We sat down while Lindy asked lots of questions from the instructors… Something about training and all that…. I watched some cyclists going around and around on the wooden track while they talked. I got a bit bored and took this opportunity to have a nap. Lindy finally woke me up saying something like, “You are squashing my foot”. Oh! I do like to be close to people and, since she was holding my lead, her foot is just the right one to sleep on! I then got driven back to the Training Centre to complete the rest of my training.
On 16 November, I had a complete makeover by the kennel staff and, after many goodbyes, I was driven to Canberra to begin my new career. I met Lindy once again at her house. I was told it is now my house as well. The courtyard is not very large but it has all the facilities that a Guide Dog would need. Most importantly, I got a comfy bed to sleep on.
I then spent four weeks working with Instructor Dianne and Instructor Adrian learning some of the places that Lindy would need to go – places such as the supermarket, bakery, chemist and, most importantly, butcher and coffee shop.
My first ever public engagement was being the Australia Day Ambassador for the Snowy River Shire Council. Lindy and I, along with our supporters Jing and Amy, went to Jindabyne. Lindy gave the Australia Day address during the breakfast in the Park. We then gave a second address at Adaminaby in the afternoon. I soon discovered that being Lindy’s Guide Dog will ensure a busy and rewarding life and I am looking forward to many other events to come.
I would like to bark on about all the other things that have happened during my four months with Lindy but the editor is telling me that I have to stop. So I will leave the part about my life with my puppy family to my next issue.
I am proud to have the same name as Comet reindeer. Although I don’t pull the sled, I pull Lindy along and ensure she does not run into things!!!
This is the end of the commentary from Guide Dog Comet this month.