So Long Farewell Auf Wiedersehen And So On

Commando's College CertificateHello and welcome.

It is hard to believe but as I write this post, I have come to the end of my time as an HND student at Sunderland College!

It seems like the time has just flown by. Although there has been a great deal of hard work involved in the course, I must admit that I have found the experience to be an enjoyable and rewarding one. As I think has Commando.

Since Commando both loves his work, and loves to show off when the chance arises, our time at College has given him the opportunity to do both, on many occasions. Furthermore he has also had plenty of opportunities, either directly or indirectly, to gain admirers, both on the grounds of being a dog in a place where one would not normally find a dog, and in his role as a working guide dog.

He has drawn people to us, which has always been helpful during ice breaking sessions. He has also, I think, helped to act as a bit of a stress release for both students and lecturers, whether through his antics when off lead in class, during break times, or just through encouraging people to give him a stroke and some fuss. I am also very happy to say that he has also helped some students, including some in my class, to overcome their fear of dogs.

He has, in my opinion, also served as an excellent ambassador for Guide Dogs. Showing just how they can help someone with sight loss get around on a daily basis, and showing just how well trained and well behaved guide dogs can be. He has, along with me, helped to deliver a number of talks about Guide Dogs, not only at our campus but at other campuses of the College. Furthermore he has also helped inspire others to raise money for, or donate to Guide Dogs. This is especially true regarding two people who have acted as support staff for me during my time at the College.  

One of them is taking part in an endurance event later in the year, and inspired by Commando, has decided to use it as a fund raising opportunity for Guide Dogs. The other has decided to ask to sponsor a puppy as a birthday gift.

But most of all, Commando has actually made it possible for me to attend the course, make new friends, gain a high level qualification, and spread the word about Guide Dogs. Were it not for him then I would almost certainly have abandoned my study plans, once the course had been moved from a campus with which I was already familiar, and who knows what I would have been doing now as a result.

I’m quite sure that there are people at College who will miss Commando, more than they will miss me. In fact a few people, during the last couple of days on the course, dropped by specifically to say goodbye to Commando, with one of them even bringing him a little leaving gift. I think, around the College, Craig and Commando were considered to be one person. Which I think is ideally how a Guide Dog partnership should be viewed.

Since I was completely up to date with all of my work, the last week or so was a rather informal affair. So much so that one afternoon myself, Commando and the College’s Tutor for Students with Visual Impairments went for a very nice walk/free run in a park beside the College. We had very nice weather that day, and I am pleased to say that Commando absolutely loved every second of his free-run. I am also happy to say that we managed to keep him out of the duck pond. This is in no small part down to his very good recall, meaning that I could keep him on the lead whilst passing the pond. Although part of me would have loved to just let Commando dive into the pond, I didn’t really have anything with me that would have come close to getting him cleaned up, had he gotten in there.

On our very last day, one of our lecturers arranged a little tea-party for us all. There were various food stuffs and so on around, and as per usual Commando showed excellent restraint. He wasn’t even too phased when a couple of party poppers went off. He did glance in their general direction, but once he realized that they weren’t any kind of threat he simply ignored them.

There was a rather heart-warming few minutes where this same lecturer gave out some informal certificates to everyone. I think everyone found this both very funny and rather touching. Of course one of the biggest awws came when she presented Commando with his very own certificate for excellent attendance and commitment to the course. I’m thinking of asking to have it put into his file at Guide Dogs.

This time was given a little extra poignancy by the fact that it took place around the time of the second anniversary of the start of my partnership with Commando.

Although the course of study has come to an end, as has my  time as a student of the College, there is every chance that Commando and I will return but in our official capacity as Guide Dog Speakers. Another legacy of Commando’s and my time there has been the College’s commitment to marking Guide Dogs Week.  

With luck, Commando and I will be able to make as good an impression on the staff and students of the local University when we start attending in September…


Sarah, 7:51am Thu 28 Aug 2014:

Congratulations what a fantastic achievement for you both! I always enjoy reading your blogs... May the adventure continue :)

Ted, 10:47pm Wed 27 Aug 2014:

Well done to you both and good luck at university

Brenda, 7:57am Mon 25 Aug 2014:

Congratulations to Craig and Commando and looking forward to the next chapter of your achievements together

David, 8:27pm Sun 24 Aug 2014:

Fantastic post - lovely to hear that Commando has helped yo uso much, and also that you kept him out of the duck pond! Good luck at University, and all the best for you both in the future! David

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Craig And Commando

Craig is in his early thirties and he is completely blind. His blog details the day-to-day adventures he experiences with his first guide dog, Commando.

Read Craig and Commando's most recent adventures.