Friday, 4 April 2014

Adopting a dog with Guide Dogs for the Blind.

So this is a completely different post to what you're used to with me, but I've actually had quite a lot of questions online and in person when I let people know that my newest pack member, Ziggy, is a dog we've adopted, and not from a kennels. 

Some of you might know that myself and my Mum have been volunteers for Guide Dogs for 4 years now. We have walked one puppy from being 7 weeks old until he qualified as a Guide Dog and we've finished two other dogs off, which took between 6-8 months each (one didn't make it through and was re-homed, and one is currently at training!). We also board puppies for friends who have guide dog puppies when they go away, and dogs that our supervisor asks us to look after to correct a behavioural issue. It's not hard work, but it's a lot of work, and a cause we really do believe in. 

After an almost constant flow of dogs and two long-term puppies (Gabby and Abbey) we found that we really did have a labrador x retriever shaped hole in our lives. We'd long discussed having a second dog to our Cocker Spaniel but had always had one reason or another to say no. In December of 2013, my Mum and I decided that it was time, and we were getting another dog. 

We spent an awful lot of time deciding how we were going to get another dog. We considered buying a puppy from a breeder, as there is something very special about being your dogs first and only Mumma, but there's also the issue of all the training that comes with it, and all of the additional costs.  We also considered rescuing a dog, both my Mum and I had always wanted to rescue a dog, but after our experiences with the breed through guide dogs, we both knew that in our heart of hearts, we wanted a labrador x retriever. So this is how we ended up deciding to adopt from Guide Dogs.

Dogs are a bit like people, in that not all jobs are for everyone. Some dogs don't have the confidence to lead, or find something very anxiety provoking, or some of them just don't want to do it! Sometimes other jobs are more suitable for them, failed guide dogs sometimes go into the Police, the Army, Border Security, Hearing Dogs or other similar things. Others don't find that to be suitable for them either, or sometimes even the best bread dogs can have medical issues, and are withdrawn from working life. Dogs also retire, dogs aged between 6-9 years old often retire from working and go to homes where they can live out their lives as pets. 

This is how we got Ziggy. Ziggy was a puppy that had actually made it all the way through training and seemed completely cut out to be a guide dog. Once they put her harness on, ready to work, she became very nervous and very, very, worried about other dogs when she was working. She has and had no issues with other dogs when she wasn't working, but when she was they made her really anxious. Ziggy wasn't just any puppy either, she was a sponsor puppy. When you give a very large gift of £5000 to Guide Dogs, they offer you a very special puppy. You get to name this puppy and you'll get to see them, spend time with them and watch them go from tiny babies to working dogs. Ziggy was one of these puppies. Ziggy has a sad story attached too, she was named by a couple who's young son had been killed, and his nickname at home had always been Ziggy. When Ziggy didn't make it as a guide dog, they adopted her, but their young grandson developed a terrible allergy to dogs, and unfortunately, Ziggy had to go. 

In January, we received a phone call, letting us know that our application to rehome a withdrawn dog had been approved, and that as we were puppy walkers already, they would not need to vet the house as we have their youngest puppies coming and going all the time! We were excited by this point as we knew it meant there would be a dog soon...little did we know that she meant we would get the dog in just two days time! On January 31st, 2014 a pretty, plump and cuddling dog arrived at our house. I still call her my puppy, even if she is 3 this May. Ziggy arrived to us weighing 38.1kg (5st.9lb) which was pretty overweight! She was gorgeous none the less. 

Since we got Ziggy, we're all much happier! and she seems to love it here. Since we got her she's lost almost 5kg and is weighing a much healthier weight! she's going out twice a day everyday and goes to her special doggy swimming lesson once a week! She's slotted into our lives like she never wasn't there! and even now, less than three months after we got her, people comment on the fantastic bond we have with her, and we feel like she was never not here.

Adopting a dog from Guide Dogs is something many people don't know about. It's an option that's really great if you would like an older dog or want to re-home a dog. It's a more expensive option than other adoptions, costing £300, but it's great for you and great for them! 

This post was just to sum up our experience of adopting through guide dogs, and to talk about the wonderful dog we adopted, who has brought joy to our lives like nothing else! 

Do you have a dog? and if you do, please tell me the story of how you got your doggie!