Category: Guide Dog

What’s in a (doggy) name?

What’s in a (doggy) name?

Or why Qantas doesn’t need to know my handle

Hey peeps.

As you know, the Old Dude flies a lot. And of course, I tag along (we’re in Perth at the moment).

It’s cool. I wriggle in under the seat next to him, and there are always crumbs to clean up. I also get lots of admiration from the other passengers and airline staff, which of course I try not to notice. After all, I’m working and it’s not good for me to be distracted.

I wish they wouldn’t try to pat me and talk to me though. I’m trying to work dudes. Take a chill pill and let me do my job.

So, Qantas have introduced a new policy for assistance animals. And they want to know stuff which is — well — pretty in your face. Not the sort of stuff a young female dog likes to reveal.

First, they want to know where I was trained. I wonder if they ask the other passengers what school they went to. So, I tell them Guide Dogs NSW. And the Old Dude puts it in his Frequent Flyer profile — don’t want to have to answer this stuff every time we book. We have lives, you know.

Next they want my length. When you flew last, did they ask you how tall you are? No way. But 60cm goes in the profile — not including my beautiful tail of course.

Next they want my weight. Now come on. Personal as. And I’m a Labrador — you know we enjoy the odd snack or 30. And I see some pretty heavy dudes getting on those planes — not to mention the ones who are carrying a few extra kilos. Do they ask you your weight, or weigh your luggage? Come on Qantas, get a grip. Yet again we’ve chosen not to rock the boat — so we’ve put 30kg in the profile. Well that’s close enough, right. And it’s usually on the mark — unless I go for a big chew-out.

But then their last question for me crosses a line. They want to know my name. And I know what will happen if I tell them. They will put it in the flight manifest, and every flight attendant will think it’s ok to talk to me and distract me.

I’m trying to work dudes!

Well it’s not ok. I have a job to do. And if I don’t do it properly then the Old Dude is not safe. So, distraction, and using my name, is seriously uncool. I bet Qantas didn’t consult any dog handlers before they introduced this question.

But again, the Old Dude has come to the rescue with another one of his bright ideas. He has them occasionally, although don’t tell him that or it will go to his head.

We put his name, Graeme, down as mine. So, when those sneaky distractors think they’re talking to me they’ll just be talking to the hand. And he’ll answer them, which is the way it should be. Humans should talk to him, not to me. I’ve got work to do.

Job done. And I’ll just get on with my work. And the occasional crumb on the floor of course.

Tricked you, Qantas.

See ya peeps.

New dog tests Graeme with old tricks

IMG_0376So, hi peeps. I’m the new dog in town, and I thought it was time I dragged myself off the dog bed and got to the old dude’s keyboard. Especially after I trended in Australia on twitter last week. That’s way cool on my first attempt. But more of that later.

Let me tell you about myself for those who have not met me. I’ve been around with the old dude for about a year so many of you may have.

I’m a golden lab — almost white really — and I’m super cute. Out of harness I’m pretty upbeat, but when the old dude picks up the harness and lead I’m pretty chilled. Not that I don’t want to work as a guide dog. I just don’t want him to think he’s totally in control. He’s a control freak you know.

I grew up with this great family of puppy-raisers — three boys and a girl who love me to bits. I’m a bit of a chewer, but quite selective as I only go for left shoes. I over indulged on one and had to have my stomach pumped. I chew much less now, just gnawing through the occasional leather lead when the Old Dude is giving a particularly boring speech. He does go on!

I go back to visit my puppy-raising family occasionally and have so much fun. They are awesome.

I started work with the Old Dude in January last year. It was hard at first and I got stressed as. But I’m finding it easier now that I’m a little more experienced. If I have had a tough day I still make the occasional raid on a rubbish bin at home. Whatevs!

Last week the Old Dude and Mrs Old Dude were moving stuff between our current house and the new house in Sydney. They are quite close, and the stuff was wheeled on trolleys. I just cruised along off-lead, you know, hanging out.

It struck me that they weren’t paying me nearly enough attention, so I thought, let’s give them a wakeup call. I just wondered off for a bit of a cruise on my own.

I was always going to come back — in my own sweet time — but you know what humans are like. They panicked. They rang up Guide Dogs NSW, who sent out an instructor to help look for me. And then the Old Dude had one of his brighter ideas, and told Twitter I was missing.

Well, that viralled of course. Trended in Sydney and Australia. Got mentioned by the ABC and a shed load of other tweeps. It was being re-tweeted for a week afterwards. Not bad for my first social media appearance — I could have told him tweets about me would have far more reach than tweets about him.

I rocked up outside the front door about two hours later, after a sniff-a-thon and a bit of a mooch around. I was always coming back — free board and food, a bath once a fortnight, and regular visits from Rachel. Sweet deal for a millennial dog like me. They were so excited when I returned — I just said: “Yeah right”, and went to my bed for a sleep.

Then Mrs Old Dude had one of her bright ideas. They have attached a Tile to my collar, and use @TheTileApp to keep track of me on the internet. They can locate me with their smartphones. They think I won’t like it, but I think “Way cool dudes, I have a permanent online presence”. What more could a 21st century dog ask for? Fully sick. And Arrow, thought she was so switched on blogging.

Arrow says I should blog like this regularly but hey, commitment is so last century. So, I think this will be an occasional series — you know, when I can drag myself off the dog bed.

See ya peeps.

Parting is such sweet sorrow; my final Dog Blog

Parting is such sweet sorrow; my final Dog Blog

Hi Friends and goodbye

Arrow lying on her back
I’m kicking back!

By the time you read this I’ll be living in Brisbane. The boss is taking me up there so this is my last chance to get on his computer and write.

He doesn’t think I know. It’s amazing how humans under-rate our sense about these things. If I hadn’t understood him talking to other people about it, I would have picked it up from the extra cuddles and pats he has been giving me for the past few months since the decision was made. I can read him like a book.

I’m sad about going

I really enjoy working as a guide dog. I love working with the boss. I get to be a superior dog, going to lots of places where other dogs are just not allowed to go. I get to travel to new places all around Australia. And most importantly I get to meet all of you, and give you a quick sniff (and even the occasional lick when the boss is not paying attention).

Arrow's taxi to the airport
Only the best taxi to the airport

But I am finding it tougher these days. I’m 10.5 years old now, that’s 75 in human years. The arthritis is painful when I’m in cold places, and my wheat allergy means that my ears are sore much of the time. I think I should take it a little bit easier.

Where I’m going will be great. It’s Brisbane so it’s warm. I will be with people who I have visited for Christmas for the last five or six years. There are two other dogs there who I really like. And humans who visit call it dog heaven — it’s a totally dog-friendly house, we get to go for walks every day, and it’s close to parks and the beach.

I visited there with Maureen and the boss last year, and really enjoyed the weekend. I’m going to be pretty happy there, and I’m sure that the boss will come to visit me regularly.

I’ve met the dog whose taking over my job

I tried to pass on some of the things I have learned. But she’s a typical teenager, and it seemed to me that much of it went over her puppy head. We’ll see how much she took in during the years to come, I guess.

She’s a golden Labrador, and she has been training with the boss for about four weeks. It’s hard work for both of them at present, but in time I think she’ll be almost as good a guide dog as I have been.

I don’t think her writing skills will match mine, but you wouldn’t be surprised by that. I did explain to her how she could access the boss’s computer at night when he wasn’t paying attention, but she just looked at me dismissively. She told me that computers were very “old school” and all the hip pooches are using “smart” devices. She tells me not to bother myself about techno stuff; she’s cool with all of that. We’ll see.

Think of me kicking back in Brissie

Arrow the guide dog get some well-earned rest on a bed wrapped in Rachel's baby blanket
Here I am in Brisbane. My bed is made with Rachel’s old baby blanket

I’m sorry I won’t see you at the book launches. But just remember that he didn’t write it all — you have my permission to quietly remind him of that if he gets above himself.

So, to quote the great dog of the universe: “May the sun shine warmly where you lie, may the breeze bring you pleasant smells, and may you catch all those rabbits that you chase in your dreams.”

Arrow, the retiring guide dog

P.S. You are seeing some of my pictures from Facebook. I will try and update my old mate Jordie’s FB page (she was MY predecessor, may she rest in peace), so you can see what I’m up to.

Image credit: Top and centre, Tracey Markos. Bottom: Julie Tait. Featured image: Kim Welinski.

 

DOG BLOG – week 4

DOG BLOG – week 4

Thursday 3 December

It’s another early start. Pick up at 6 30 for a 7 AM gig at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka. Good quality crumbs from the breakfast, though.

The boss is comparing women in Claire Wright’s book The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka with the way women with disabilities are also forgotten. Claire Wright’s book is a great read – he thought I was asleep while he was reading it, but I stayed awake to listen. It’s annoying, though, when he listens to sections with his headphones on in a plane and a car, so I miss a few important chunks. I wonder if I could get his computer to play it to me again.

Anyway, we’re back in the hire car and off to the ANZ headquarters in Melbourne. Our second International Day function. It’s the Star Awards – I didn’t get an award, but managed a few appearances in photos, and grabbed a few more crumbs.

And we’re off again. Back to the airport and heading to Tweed Heads. Umm Jetstar Boss, could be a challenge.

Yes, I was right, the flight is delayed. Thank goodness Queensland is an hour behind us – means we are not too late to the dinner awards function for the Tweed City Council.

Nice and warm up here – Ballarat was cold, even in December. The Boss made another speech and lots of people got awards. Wow I’m tired though – too busy a life for an old dog. Oh, so is he.

He’s sneaking out a little early – that’s not like the boss, but thank goodness. Back to the hotel, some nice carpet to sleep and an open balcony.

Friday 4 December

We’re flying again. Home this time I think. I might get a weekend at home for a change.

Yes, the taxi is dropping us off here. Thank goodness – a bit of time out of the harness.

Not for long though. The boss has unpacked, and sat at his desk for a while, and we’re off again. He’s speaking at a Cricket Australia conference in Artarmon for the International Day. And they like him – I get the sense that most of them in this room are cricket tragics themselves, just like the boss. Not sure what they see it in myself. Games go on for a long time, and the commentators seem to chat about a lot of things not related to cricket – I guess they have to work out a way to fill in the boring bits. Don’t tell him I said that though.

Now we’re off to the city for an Attitude Foundation board meeting and then the Australian Network on Disability drinks. That should be good. Lots of my friends there, and the crumbs are always good in a crowd.

Saturday 5 December

There’s the doorbell. And they’re calling me. I’m in the lift by myself. This means its bath day.

Sandra meets me on the ground floor – I don’t know how they open the door for her – this technology tricks me sometimes. And off I go to the trailer for a wash. It’s a warm day so I won’t get too cold. And I do like coming back with a clean shiny coat, and smelling so nice. I get very excited when I return to the apartment.

The Boss and Maureen are going out to dinner tonight which is great – I get time for a long sleep, and with any luck Rachel’s boyfriend will come over. He always gives me lots of pats.

 

Sunday 6 December

Another quiet day. Everyone in the family is taking it easy.

Oh no, the suit case is out again. How many meals has he made up this time, and where are we going now?

In a taxi and off to the airport. Adelaide this time. Ok.

Wow it’s hot here. 40 degrees. How do they live in this? Dinner with friends tonight, and we must be doing a gig tomorrow.

Well the boss made a good call and did not leave the hotel window open. He and I usually like that, but the heat is amazing here.

And now we’re off to the University for a “Conversation with Graeme Innes” primarily aimed at people with disabilities. Wow, the footpaths are burning my little feet and its only 9 o’clock in the morning.

Lots of interesting talk, and then lunch and back to the airport. There are some lovely people here, but I couldn’t live in this heat. Phew, Sydney is a bit cooler.

Tuesday 8 December

Two more International Day speeches today, but at least they are in Sydney. So we’re on the train. I like the train, and the Boss is much happier now that stations are announced. It’s funny you know, some people think it’s me who knows what station we have to get off. It’s really the Boss who works it out, but I’m happy to take the credit for it if people want to give that to me.

Our first speech is to the Department of Planning. Did I say our first speech? Well the Boss makes them, but I deserve a lot of the credit – it’s me who gets him there, and lots of the stories are about me – at least the good stories are about me.

That one’s done and we’re off to Sun Studios for a photo shoot. What – I’m not included in the photos. What are they thinking – these pics will sink without trace.

Now we’re back for another speech to the Office of the Environment and Heritage. This day is just Go Go Go.

And there is an evening function as well. The Boss is facilitating a Life without Barriers roundtable for the disability sector – called Ideas without Barriers – clever name boss. This one is about Choice and Control. Interesting discussion, and the crumbs at Spark Helmore are certainly better than average. I’m glad it’s Christmas soon – not sure how much longer I can keep up this pace.

Wednesday 9 December

At last, a quiet day. The Boss is appearing on The Drum this afternoon, so he’s doing his research. But he’ll go by taxi, so with any luck I’ll get to stay at home for a long snooze. He usually leaves some nice music on for me – he’s quite thoughtful really.

He’s come back happy, so The Drum must have gone well. That’s good.

Thursday 10 December

Another speech today. The Boss is giving the Occasional Address at a Sydney University Graduation where he is an Adjunct Professor. He’s going to wear that gown and squishy hat again.

Not sure I’m keen on that look, but it seems to get some positive feedback. No hat for me I notice.

He gave a good speech though. Told a story from his book which is coming out next year – you should read it, there will be some great guide dog stories.

Friday 11 December

We did a video shoot this morning for a Sydney University promotion – at least the Boss did the shoot and I snoozed in the corner. They didn’t want me in the shot again. When will people learn that dogs draw eyeballs?

Then off to the Boss’s Uncle’s funeral – I thought the Boss was quite sad today.

Maureen and the Boss are out to dinner tonight so I’ll get a quiet one.

Saturday 12 December

Flying again. And Maureen’s coming. This is different.

We’ve gone to Brisbane, and someone is picking us up. YES, it’s Sharon and Julie. I have gone to their place for Christmas for the past four or five years. They must have moved to Brisbane.

This Is Exciting!

I get to hang out with their two dogs, Bully and Maddie. I also get the run of this house. Their jokey nickname for the place is “the kennel” because it is so dog friendly. And both Sharon and Julie are just lovely to me. I could stay here for a long time.

The Boss and Maureen had a lovely weekend here – going out and sight-seeing, and just catching up with good friends. I just hung out – it was awesome.

I reckon I could retire here – nice warm weather, two doggie friends to play with, the lovely Sharon and Julie and a house for us all. I can’t think of much more I could want.

photo of Maddie by Juile Tait

photo of Bulley by Juile Tait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One last word

It’s been a pretty hard few weeks while I’ve been blogging, and another big year for the Boss and me. I turned 10 in September, so I’m starting to feel the years a bit more. And the injury to my foot on that SydneyTrains escalator earlier in the year was certainly a set-back for me.

I love working with the Boss. We go to some fascinating places, and I reckon I fly more than any other dog in Australia. But I guess all good things must come to an end.

I think I’m going to stop blogging now. It’s been lots of fun giving you my perspective on the Boss’s life. But it’s hard to find the time to write when he’s not on the computer.

So you all have a good Christmas – I hope Santa brings you lots of bones and doggie treats, and you get plenty of time stretched out on the balcony with the occasional tummy rub. That’s my plan.

By the way, make sure you get your share of the Christmas ham – it’s the best!

photo of arrow with a christmas bow tie

DOG BLOG – Week 3

DOG BLOG – Week 3

Friday 27 November

Well, I was right.  We’re off with the family on the shuttle bus to Cairns.  I’m sorry to be leaving here – I have just loved my time on the beach.  And the apartment is not too hot, particularly if I am left alone to turn on the air con, which I can because it has motion sensors.

Not keen on the metal floor of these shuttles, though – I can’t get a grip and slide around a lot.  I prefer the carpet in the plane.

Hang on, I’m going down the back with Rachel – excellent – I’ll get more pats down here.

Now, what’s happening?  The family are flying back to Sydney, but the boss and I are going to Melbourne.  Oh, that’s right.  He’s appearing in the Wheeler Centre’s Interrobang Festival.  What the hell is an Interrobang? I think Rachel said something about that one time…

Long flight – 2700 km from Cairns to Melbourne.  That’s a total of 6220 km so far on this trip.  Nice to stretch the legs on the walk to a taxi.

We’re staying at the Hyatt on Collins.  Nice enough room, but no window or balcony.  Even though the boss can’t, I like to be able to look out.

Friday night at the Interrobang sounds fun, although the stairs to the stage and green room at the Athenaeum Theatre are pretty dodgy.  If I had my way the boss wouldn’t go up those, but he’s made me do it.  The show must go on I suppose.

It’s a game show panel, and just before we appeared someone in the audience asked the question: “Which is better, cats or dogs?”
That was a great lead-in for the boss.  I sat up nicely next to him so that the audience could see me, and told him to say that of course it was dogs.  We got a big laugh for that gag.  I don’t think the boss gives me enough credit for setting up his jokes, though.  I’ll have to talk to him.

We didn’t win our round in the quiz, although I thought we deserved it.  The boss made a silly Sydney-Melbourne comment which may have done us some harm – I wish he’d let me check his material before he uses it.

Back to the hotel for a sleep.  Thank goodness, it’s been a long day.

Saturday 28 November

An early breakfast meeting at St Kilda.  What’s he thinking?  I wanted a lie-in.

Oh, and the taxi driver has dropped us at the wrong hotel.  If I have told the boss once I’ve told him a hundred times – use Uber; they are more reliable and they work with GPS systems.  I’m only a dog, but I get the value of technology.

Back to the city and Interrobang.  The boss gave a lecture on leaving a legacy – it was quite good too.

He’s having an afternoon nap – don’t blame him.  Think I’ll have one myself.

The evening Interrobang is a panel of speakers on “Are actions stronger than words?”  Well, I don’t have words – at least until I started blogging – so I’m arguing for actions.  Good, the boss is as well.

That festival was lots of fun.  And the Wheeler Centre staff were efficient and friendly.  I hope he does more of that.

Sunday 29 November

Early start again.  I don’t know where he gets his energy.  We’re off to the airport for a trip back to Sydney.  I think we are going home.  That’s another 700km making a total of just under 7000km for the whole trip.  Wish I got frequent flyer points.

This is one of my favourite days of the year.  The family hosts a Thanksgiving lunch for about 50 people.  They’ve done it ever since Leon married Rachael, even though those two are back in the States now.

I just love it.  There are crumbs all over the place, and if I’m really lucky, some of the guests just feed me pieces of ham and stuff directly.  The boss and Maureen really don’t approve, but I just give the guests a big smile, and we work it out.  I also get heaps of pats and tummy rubs.  Don’t know why the family doesn’t do it more often.  Feel a bit sick in the tummy, though, with all that ham.

Bloody hell.  When the boss fed me, tonight he made up three more meals.  We must be travelling again.  We’re keeping Qantas in business.  I’d better have a good sleep tonight.

Monday 30 November

And I thought yesterday was early.  Taxi picked us up at 5 45 this morning and yes, it’s the airport.  We’re back to Melbourne for the Life Without Barriers Victorian Carers Awards.  Remember them – they are the ones with excellent taste in bones and ties.
And the boss is wearing that tie this morning.  I bet Maureen picked it – he wouldn’t have thought of that – colour co-ordination is never his strong suit.

A really funny thing happened as we were getting off the plane in Melbourne.  The boss got his bag ready and made sure my lead and harness were ok. Then he said to me: “Come on when you can.” Which just means that he is telling me we can go as soon as the people in front have moved.

The guy standing in the aisle in front of us turned around, got right in the boss’s face, and said: “Who are you telling to go.  Just wait your bloody turn you ignorant pig.”

Unusually, the boss was so surprised he did not say a thing. Just shook his head.

Someone must have tipped the guy off because he was waiting for us in the air bridge to apologise.  “I didn’t see your guide dog,” he said.  “I didn’t know you were talking to her.  I am so very embarrassed.”

The boss thanked him, laughed and told him not to worry about it. Pretty amazing behaviour.

Parliament House in Spring Street.  It’s a nicer building than the NSW Parliament – not as cramped.  And the audience liked me, so that’s always good.

Then off to a working lunch – well working for the boss, I just dozed – and meetings for the rest of the afternoon.

We’re staying at the Wyndham hotel tonight – windows and a balcony.  That’s more like it.  Put those things in your hotel profile please boss.

Tuesday 1 December

Up for an early morning walk and a coffee for the boss.  We have a good routine going.  He takes me out for a walk and I find him a good coffee shop.

Then back to the apartment,  pack the bag, and we’re catching a tram down to Docklands.  Had to catch two trams, and no announcements on either of them.  I’ll talk to the boss about lodging some DDA complaints.

Quick meeting at ANZ and then off to Hawthorn in a taxi.  The boss is giving the International Day of People with Disabilities keynote at the Able Australia supporters’ lunch.

He told a few good stories, but the one about me was the most popular.  I’ve said to him often that he should use more guide dog material.

Back in a taxi to the airport, and we’re flying back to Sydney.
He’s presenting the Graeme Innes AM Disability Employment Award at the Australian Human Resources Institute awards dinner.  But Maureen is going, so he’ll probably leave me at home with Rachel.
Good, I need the break.  Hope he feeds me before he goes.

Wednesday 2 December

Quiet morning while the boss writes.  But then we’re off again – guess where – yes the airport.  On our way to Ballarat – via Melbourne of course.  Oh, they’ve picked him up in a hire car.
That’s an improvement boss.  I can stretch out across the floor in the back seat.  More of this, please.