Guide Dogs NSW/ACT held their Wet Nose Day in Centennial Park on Sunday and Double Bay Vet Clinic was there to support a great cause, offering free dental health check ups, behaviour training and healthcare advice to pet owners.
The day was a great success, with hundreds of dog owners enjoying a variety of entertainment that ranged from the fun face painting for kids, to the educational blindfold maze which was used to simulate the conditions visually impaired people have to handle each day.
There were also inspirational talks from a range of local celebrities including Emma Freedman and star of Bondi Vet, Dr Lisa Chimes.
The guide dogs have one of the most rigorous training programs of any work dogs. This is understandable given the variety and subtly of the work that a guide dog has to undertake reliably each day.
They are placed with puppy carers from eight weeks of age and then, after being carefully nurtured and gently trained, they enter guide dog boot camp at 14 months.
The day they leave the puppy carers to go back to Guide Dogs is a big day for everyone. It’s hard for some to say goodbye after looking after the dogs from eight weeks of age for a full year. The carers watch them grow from the fluffy balls of puppy fun into adult dogs, teaching them good habits along the way.
No wonder they call this day “Tissue Day!” (I don’t think one of us here at the clinic could do it!)
A huge amount of time, money and effort is put in to training each dog. In fact, it takes $30,000 to train just one dog! Amazing eh?
Another interesting fact we didn’t know was that for every 10 puppies that start the training program, only five actually make it through.
Apparently one of the most common things is lack of ability to concentrate. For example, a dog that can’t control itself when it sees another dog or a bird would be a big problem. So if these natural urges can’t be managed then the training doesn’t go further.
Those that do make it go on to add tremendous value to their visually impaired owners.
And don’t worry, for those excitable eddies that don’t make the grade, life isn’t all bad. Any dog that fails is re-homed. And guess who gets first refusal? You got it – the puppy carers.
Having had the pleasure of speaking with quite a few of them last weekend, we’re sure some have secretly got their fingers crossed that their young charge gets to come home. (Though we’re in no doubt that they all take immense pride in seeing their pups become amazing Guide Dogs.)
Talking at the event, Double Bay’s Dr Dave Nicol said, “We’re delighted to be able to support the Guide Dogs. The work they do is amazing and to see so many of their supporters, puppy careers and trainers here today, you really get a feel for the scope of what they have to achieve.”
Guide Dog Etiquette
And so to round off today’s blog. Do you know how to approach and interact with a guide dog? If not then here’s the etiquette guide direct from their website.
It takes a lot of concentration for a person who has impaired vision to work safely with a Guide Dog. To help this team focus on its important work, please follow these tips:
• The Guide Dog must not be the centre of attention. Please don’t pat, feed or otherwise distract the dog when it is working. A well-intentioned pat can undo months of training.
• Please don’t grab the person or the dog’s harness. First ask if they need assistance. Learn more about guiding etiquette.
• When you provide guiding assistance, please walk on the person’s opposite side to the Guide Dog.
• Please make sure your pet dog is on a leash or under control around a Guide Dog. When approaching, it may be polite to let the person know that you have a dog.
• If you see a loose dog, please contact the local council.
• According to government legislation, you must allow a Guide Dog to go anywhere that the person using it can go.
How should a Guide Dog behave around me?
• The Guide Dog should be well behaved at all times, and settled when not working.
• When working, the Guide Dog should avoid temptations such as begging for food, drooling and chewing objects around them.
• The Guide Dog should respond to the user’s commands to maintain its concentration.
• The Guide Dog should be clean, groomed and free of offensive odours.
People who use Guide Dogs have been trained in the most effective ways to control their dog’s behaviour, so please only provide assistance if requested.
Support an Amazing Organisation
We had a great day out, met some amazing pets and people and we checked up the teeth of lots and lots of dogs. Thanks to Guide Dogs for having us, and keep up the good work. See you next time.
And don’t forget that Guide Dogs NSW/ACT do not receive any government funding. So if you want to sponsor a puppy then click on this link. You’ll be glad that you did.