Twenty-odd years ago I was short of breath, having recurrent chest infections and getting progressively weaker. Tests proved inconclusive until as a final resort I was given an MRI scan which showed a tumour on my left lung. Into theatre I went and out came part of the lung together with a benign tumour.
As part of the rehabilitation process I was advised to walk more, but who wants to walk aimlessly around town on their own. The obvious answer – get a dog! My daughter had just started work at a kennels and had the offer of a Labrador puppy. Two years later we bought another one and had fifteen years of pleasure from their company.
After we lost the first and the second was showing signs of advancing years we discussed whether to get a puppy but our own age was against it as we would be in our eighties if it lived as long as our previous dogs.
The answer came through an article about Canine Partners in the local paper. Canine Partners train dogs as assistants for physically disabled persons and need volunteers to bring up puppies from seven or eight weeks old, giving them experiences of every aspect of life in the big, wide world and passing them on for advanced training after a year or so. A family discussion quickly approved the idea and we applied to become “Puppy Parents”.
After some checks we were accepted and eagerly awaited our first puppy. What we actually got was an adorable ten month old called Ressie to foster for ten days. We were sad to hand her back but four days later she was followed by Crumble, a trained demonstration dog and then by six month old Rex. A week after he went, back came Ressie to stay for a fortnight. But ten days into her stay we were asked to keep her on until she went to advanced training.
Ressie stayed with us for another seven months and we settled into the routine of attending weekly classes (more to train us than her), collecting her food and taking her to the vet’s as necessary (both of which Canine Partners pay for) and, of course, taking her out wherever we went as well as special outings to introduce her to shops, buses and trains, doctors and hospitals, animals, meetings of people, in fact anywhere she might encounter when out working.
Eventually the time came to take her to the advanced training centre where we said tearful goodbyes but came away with Kennedy, an eight week old golden retriever, to start the whole process again.
Kennedy was followed by Sirius and we currently have Garon who moves on in July. The whole experience has been tremendously rewarding and we intend offering to take on puppies as long as we are able and Canine Partners will let us.
Canine Partners needs more Puppy Parents, fundraisers and other volunteers.
Puppy Parents and Foster Homes are currently needed in the Chelmsford area. To find out more Click here