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Friday, July 22, 2011

Girl Guide

I'm sorry. I dropped my pen. Where was I?

Gareth usually reels off a long list of reasons why he doesn’t want children. But after going to see Senna, the documentary about Formula One world champ Ayrton Senna, Gareth came home and declared that maybe we could have just one child, so that we could call him Ayrton.

It wasn’t enough to convince me that we’d suddenly become responsible and adequate parents, just because he had a cool name, so we instead lowered our expectations and raised the bar by deciding that perhaps Ayrton could be what we called the dog.

Which got me thinking. Maybe it was time we got a puppy. Puppies are so cute! Look, here is an example puppy, he's having a little sleep because he's tired from all the cuteness. Woof.

My friends Cesca and Mike have recently been looking after a guide dog in training. A very worthy cause. Basically the dog goes off to blind school every day and learns stuff, and you look after him at night until he’s graduated, at which point he leaves and goes to his new blind master. The Guide Dog people pay for all food and vet bills. So, you get the joy of having a dog, (a really intelligent, disciplined one) and you’re doing your bit for the blind.

I was very impressed with their venture. And as I like guide dogs and blind people, I decided to go one better than Cesca and Mike, whose dog was already in training when they got her, and get a puppy.

The Guide Dogs Association call it ‘puppy walking’ and what you do is you get a dog at eight weeks old (EIGHT WEEKS OLD!) and you look after it until it is old enough (a year) to go to school. Then you hand it over to some mugs like Mike and Cesca.

Well, that just sounds like the best idea in the world! A guide dog puppy, all cute and fluffy, who I can train to become really obedient and well behaved so that when he gets to school, he’s the best in the class.

I applied and seemed to tick most of the boxes. Work from home, tick. Willing to help the dog adjust to travelling in a car, on a bus, on a train, sure, no problem. I’d take Ayrton everywhere with me, he’d be my little shadow. Endless love, tick. Can’t remember what else was on the list. Oh, a garden. Minor problem. He can poo in the loo.

So the next step was to ask our landlady if we could get a puppy. Now, I’m quite good with words. I know she’ll say no if I just ask for a regular puppy. So I need to lay on the guilt.

'Please can I get a guide dog puppy?' I asked. (Who could say no… only a cold-hearted wench) 'I’d like to look after him for a year until he’s old enough to go to guide dog school, (noble) where he'll learn to look after a blind person (sympathy) who'd be lost without him.' (violins)

'No,' came the reply.


How could you? Have you not met Ayrton? He probably looks a little bit like this. Wearing his little blind dog vest.

And you’re telling me I’m not allowed to help a blind lady cross the street?

She leaves me no choice but to instead get this dog. Goliath. Seen here on a walk with Gareth, myself and our pet horse.

Oh, I’m sorry Miss Landlady, did you say don’t get a dog? I thought you said do get a dog. Get the biggest dog you can find. And a horse.

N.B In the real life version of the events described above, my landlady was really nice about it and did give me permission to get a goldfish. But it just doesn't make for a good read.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
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