A Message from Oakley the Guide Dog
A Message from Over the Rainbow Bridge
Hi, this is a message from Oakley the Guide Dog (retired) from the never-ending carrot patch. I am the happiest pupster ever here! I know I left a lot of leaky eyes back in life-as-you-all-know-it, but you just have to know it is a million times better here! I wish I could come to slurp your eye-drips away, but I’ll have to leave all my fellow left-behind pup-pals to do that on my behalf. Yesterday, 8 January, would have been my 11th Birthday. But now I am not getting any older!
Oakley the Guide Dog
I no longer have to do any of that workywalkies stuff, or obedience malarkey (well… OK… maybe I wasn’t always so good at that anyway!), or get frothysploshed, or walk under leakyskies. I just run free and munch as many carrots as I like – there is a never ending supply here – I just dig em up and crunch em! There are gazillions of other pooch pals to play endlessly with, limitless mud to roll in, but yet I don’t seem to end up as the muckypup that Mum used to grumble about, huge warm puddles to swim in – without getting wrapped up in a numptygown afterwards, miles and miles of free-running space, no boundaries, no ‘Oakley come back’, never-ending supplies of all things yummy and no rules. This is just fantabulous!
I loved my job as a working Guide Dog and my Mummy was always yipping on about how amazing I was. I was the first one ever to live on a moving floatyboatyhome. Mummy and Daddy (Tracey and Tim to all the other humans) called it a narrowboat. We all lived inside it and it moved about on the long puddles, so my garden changed most days. It was a fantabulous life with new adventures coming along almost every day. I used to write about them in my blog.
I soon learned the ropes; in addition to all the usual things that Guide Dogs do (like find left, find right, find the crossing, find the kerb etc etc), I had to ‘find the beam’, ‘find the bollard’, ‘find the paddle’, go ‘over the bridge’ or ‘under the bridge’, ‘walk the plank’, ‘find the next lock’… oh… and ‘stay on the boat’. I learned that one the hard way when I got baptized.
I went to jump into the pointy-end deck just as floatyboatyhome moved away from the edge. I went a big splosh and got scared coz I couldn’t climb back out. Mummy and Daddy rescued me though, but I wasn’t impressed! (I did manage to give them a good soaking with a megashake. It wouldn’t have been polite to fail to share my baptismal experience would it?) After that, I had to learn to only jump on or off when I was told to.
Most of the time, Daddy stood on the blunt end of floatyboatyhome wiggling the stick that made it go left and right, while I guided Mummy along the towpaths. That was quite an easy job for me – there aren’t many ‘find lefts’ or ‘find rights’ to do, just lots of ‘straight ons’. I did have to learn some adaptations though – towpaths are tricky places sometimes – especially for someone like Mummy whose lookers don’t work too well.
I had to keep her safe from all the sticky-uppy tree-toes, dippy-downy sploshy-holes, poky-outy hedge-spikes, and all sorts of other things that we dogs on 4paws cope with so much better than lofty 2paws humans. There were some places where the path was so narrow that we couldn’t walk side-by-side in normal Guide Dog partnership mode (dog on harness on left hand side of human), so Mummy used to put my lead on a long setting, pass it through the handle of my harness and ask me to ‘go ahead’. Then I would walk on and she would follow my beautiful gleaming black bum!
She said she could watch the wiggles and follow them. I maaaayyy just have managed to ‘adapt’ this method to give myself a few opportunities to sneak in a quick sniff or exchange of weemails along the way sometimes. This usually got me a gentle biff on the butt to ‘get on’. Hee hee! Well… There were always soooooo many exciting sniffables to investigate. Messages left by gazillions of different things; fluffy-tailed hoppers, flappy-feathery things, twitchy-tailed skitterjitters (Mum called them squiggles), little buzzing fluzzing things, other passing pooches… I would have loved to stop and find them all but …. ‘On you go’, or ‘leave it’ or ‘get on’ was always the interrupter.
Then there were those humans who sat by the long puddles with huge long sticks and lots of tempting delicacies in boxes and bags. Those were soooo scrummy – especially the little wiggly pink things. They always drew my nose unstoppably toward them and then my mouth just went into automatic overdrive. I simply could not stop! That got me many an ‘Oi’ or ‘Gerroff’ or ‘Buggeroff’ among other commands that I simply did not understand! Is Buggeroff similar to Buggalugs that Mum sometimes called me?
Besides all these fun times by the long puddles, I also had to switch into ‘normal’ Guide Dog mode when I took Mummy into towns and villages along the way. Then I had to do what I had been trained to do originally; guide Mum to kerbs, crossings, doors, into, around and out of shops etc. As our working partnership grew, I learned more and more about what Mum wanted.
I knew to find places such as ‘Boots’, ‘Costa’, ‘Specsavers’, ‘The shop’ (this was any version of those big shops where humans get their nosh from), ‘post box’, ‘bin’ and some others too. I also learned to ‘hup’ at a crossing to put my paws on a box where Mum needed to press a button and then touch a twirly thing underneath. I had to learn this one because these boxes are in different positions sometimes and Mum couldn’t always find them.
One day, she was feeling around trying to find the box but somehow managed to biff a ladyhuman on the chest bump instead! Oops! So Mum decided to teach these boxes how to dispense little tiny yummies when I put my paws up on them! I liked those boxes! Sometimes, I even managed to actually press the button for Mum, but that was not easy coz they’re not designed for big Labrador paws. My ‘hup’ just showed her where to locate the button.
Then, we would wait and she would hold her pawpointer on that twirly thing underneath the box. That would twirl around to tell her to tell me to go ‘forward’ across the road. That trick often made other humans’ mouths go up at the corners. I liked up-cornered mouths!
As my chin started to turn silver, I started to get some funny feelings in the darktimes. Apparently it was something the humans called Eppy Lepsy. This meant that Mummy had to go on the waiting list for a new Guide Dog (I didn’t notice her go anywhere though!).
When a new upstart was found to replace me, I got re-wired or re-tyred or something. I moved to live with Uncle Malcolm and Aunty Brenda and my DoggyDaddy Dixon. It was fantabulous! I got to raid my own private carrot patch and I even taught Daddy Dixon how to do it! That did seem to get me barked at by the humans and called Buggalugs a lot more though. I never understood that! I had worked very hard to help them by removing the cages and barriers that had been trapping those veggies! I also freed up some delicious other veggies too; little green trees, knobbly yellow bone-shaped things, dark purple balls that were hiding underground… all just there waiting for my quality control services! I did a good job of it!
We went on all sorts of fandabbydoozee hollibobses too. Brenda and Malcolm like doing lots of walkies. I looooooved doing lots of walkies! We were a perfect team. Daddy Dixon loved it too, but he was a bit old and a bit less energetic than me. That didn’t stop me going loony-zoomies at every given opportunity though. It was a wonderful reward for all my hard work – and I still got to go see Mummy and Daddy sometimes too.
Daddy Dixon got really pawly and left me after a while, so I had to step up and look after Aunty Brenda and Uncle Malcolm on my own after that. I did my bestest. I even did the washing up sometimes when things were left within reach. I’m not certain they was convinced I was being as helpful as I thought I was but… well… it would be so wrong to leave such yummy things to sit on the worktop for more than a moment, wouldn’t it?
My last week was spent doing crazy zoomies all over somewhere called the Lake District. We went there with my pawpal Rosie the Jack Russell Terrorist. We had the time of our lives running up and down the mountains, and leaping the white frothing wet sposhy tumbly streams. I lived my earthly life to the absolute fullest and bestest and I met gazillions and oodles and mahoosives of humans and pupsters along the way. I pass on my apawlogies to all those humans from whom I pinched yummies and all the pupsters that I played doggy-piggyback with. I didn’t mean to offend anyone. That was just my inner dogginess overriding my manners!
Now – the upstart that Mummy was matched with to replace me didn’t stay very long. His name was Teddy. I met him and he was a fabulous pal but he didn’t want to do my job for long. He is now doing a new job of looking after some young humanpups and their growed ups. Mummy had to wait a loooooong time for a new Guide Dog, so she had to learn to use one of those long white things with a ball on the end to find her way around.
Now though, she is being looked after and guided properly again by a yellow Labrador called Loki. Mummy and Daddy also have another pupster too – a little yap-on-a-strap called Ozzie. They also have a new floatyboatyhome, but Loki is following in my pawprints by being my successor as the next BoatyGuideDog.
Mummy and Daddy have done a lot of collecting of shinydisks and flappynotes, plus online-donations. They have reached a total of £5,000, which means they are going to sponsor another puppy to be trained to walk in my pawprints. They hope it will be another black Labrador and will name him Oakley in my memory. I like that! I hope he gets to read some of my weemails I left with instructions on how to get away with things!