Puppy Power

Greetings one and all.

Recently Commando and I were asked if we could help out at a Guide Dogs Puppy Room event.  As the name suggests, these are events where guide dog puppies attend, typically on a shift rotation, and members of the organisation for whom the room has been arranged are invited to come along, meet and of course fuss the adorable puppies.

I’ve always thought that such events were a very good idea.  So, when I was asked if Commando and I could attend, to show off the finished product, as it were, I jumped at the chance.

Puppy Room Photo

This particular Puppy Room was set up at Newcastle University.  Since I have enjoyed Commando’s stress relieving qualities for the duration of my degree course, I thought it was only fair that we help contribute to the combined stress relieving properties of a room full of adorable dogs, to assist those students who still had some work to submit or exams to sit.

Before we got to the Puppy Room though, Commando and I had our first trip on the Metro system, which covers Newcastle and some of Sunderland.  Once again, Commando impressed me with just how well he did with the Metro trains.  He showed no hesitation in boarding the train, not at all put off by the slight gap between train and platform.  He then just settled down nicely and waited for us to reach our stop, at which point he guided me off the train and onto the platform without a bit of trepidation.  He wasn’t even phased by the fact that we had to go through ticket gates at either end of the journey.

We then proceeded to the University, again with Commando doing extremely well, both in terms of his walking speed in a new location, and his focus on my instructions, which I in turn was receiving from our local Community Fund Raiser, who was accompanying us to the Puppy Room.  Commando even presented me with the option of entering a well-known coffee chains shop both on our way to and from the puppy room, though due to time commitments I had to decline the offer and keep us on our way.  Commando was so calm and focused on this new route that anyone watching might have thought that we took it every day.

Once we arrived at the Puppy Room we were given our own little quadrant of the room, with space for Commando to wander, within a circle of chairs.  Every dog in attendance had the same arrangement, allowing for people to come and sit with us and fuss their chosen dog, whilst speaking to the Puppy Walker, or in my case, Guide Dog Owner.

Each group was given around 15 minutes in the room, after which they would leave and a new group would come in.

Now dear readers, I naturally think that Commando is the greatest dog ever, but I know how alluring puppies can be.  Let’s face it, they are usually rather cute after all.  So a tiny part of me wondered just how much attention Commando, as a fully grown, fully qualified guide dog was going to get when surrounded by these young whippersnappers…

As it turned out though, clearly I’m not the only one who thinks that Commando is a great dog.  Although fully grown, his cuteness remains a potent force, and we soon had a number of people sitting petting, stroking, belly rubbing, and generally fussing enthusiastically over my boy.  This proved to be the case for the entire day.  Although the puppies were coming and going after a set time, Commando and I were there for the long haul.  Not that Commando seemed to mind at all.

Each 15 minute session seemed to follow the same pattern.  Commando would look around at all of the new people coming in.  We would then get a group of people coming into our little area to see us… (Ok to see Commando, but I was there too). Commando would then move into the circle and soaked up all of the adoration that was being sent his way.  My boy knows how to work a room dear readers.  On many occasions people had questions for me about Commando, usually things like  how old is he, how long have the two of you been together, what kind of dog is he, as well as some more general questions about Guide Dogs.  Naturally I was happy to answer every question we were asked, although by the end I thought that perhaps I should have made some large cards with the answers to the most common questions, to save my voice, which was close to giving out towards the end.

Once the fifteen minutes were up, people would start to depart.  Often quite reluctantly, saying that they definitely felt a bit less stressed after their doggy contact.  At this point Commando would stand, and walk just outside of his circle, either to observe the comings and goings more clearly, or perhaps to give some people who had chosen to sit with other dogs a chance to say hello to him as well.  If this was indeed his plan, then it worked perfectly, as he usually always managed to get someone’s attention as they were leaving the room.

By far the two most common reactions from those who had chosen to come and see Commando were “Oh, he’s so cute”, quickly followed by “oh, he’s so soft”.  This last comment always made me smile, as the softness of Commandos fur was the second thing I noticed when we met for the very first time.  The first being his size, which was quite a surprise for someone who was used to dealing with Beagles.  I must admit to still loving his soft fur, and it is my hope that his daily grooming is helping to keep it so soft, and I imagine, shiny.

I would not like to speculate how many people actually came to visit the Puppy Room, but I expect it was quite a high number.  It was announced towards the end of the day that the university had raised just enough to name a puppy.  Combine that with the large number of less stressed students, some of whom had exams that very day, and I think we can consider the event a success.

Naturally, I was once again bursting with pride in Commando for the way he conducted himself throughout the entire day, from our journeys on the Metro, to our walks through unfamiliar territory, to his behaviour around all of the puppies.  I hope that in some way he proved a good role model for all of the would be life changing guide dogs who were in the Puppy Room that day.


Ted, 12:59pm Wed 15 Jul 2015:

I am sure a lot of people left stress free. Well done.

Ted, 10:00pm Tue 23 Jun 2015:

It is amazing the way the dogs switch from play to work.

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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.

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