Puppy with a Purpose!

LucyNicola here. Today I’m taking a break from talking about books or writing or history to blog about one of my other interests; training guide dog puppies! This is prompted by the fact that we have a new puppy in training who joined the household 3 weeks ago. Her name is Lucy and she is Labrador/Golden Retriever cross and she is currently 10 weeks old!

Lucy is the sixth guide dog puppy who has come to us for puppy walking. Over the years we have built up some knowledge and experience of the job but each puppy is different and we learn so much each time. Puppy walking is a nice thing to do as an antidote to the more isolated aspects of a writer’s life. It gets me out and about, meeting people and engaging with them, talking about a cause I believe in and working with dogs – which I love!

The puppies usually come to us when they are about 7 weeks old. Lucy settled in very quickly, starting her house training, sleeping Ethel bus
through the night and quickly becoming attached to Angus, our pet dog who is a great mentor. Whilst she is so young her training is all about getting her to learn a few basic commands: Sit, lie down, stay and come, all of which she can now do with aplomb! Angus has been very useful in showing her how – at the price of a few biscuits for his time! The other thing we do is take her out to start experiencing the busy world outside, carrying her into shops and down the street so she can get used to people and vehicles. Unfortunately she is starting to get very heavy so it will be great when she has had all her injections and it’s safe for her to start moving under her own steam! All of her training is closely supervised by our Guide Dogs Puppy Walking Supervisor who gives us loads of support as well as checking up on the welfare and progress of the dog, and Lucy also goes to guide dog puppy class so she can meet other puppies, learn, and be sociable!

Ethel bookshopWhen Lucy is a bit bigger she will start to go to all sorts of exciting places like her predecessor Ethel did. She gets to travel on buses and trains, visit cafes and restaurants (hopefully without trying to help herself to any food) and go to talks, concerts, village fetes, the theatre and just about anywhere we go. All these experiences are great fun as we watch each puppy learn about new things. Our first dog, Ufton, used to sing along at concerts. Rochester was so surprised by the applause at the theatre that he barked and Ethel had a particular liking for book shops. Naturally all of them have enjoyed visiting a wide variety of the stately homes of England, Rochester's trip to Highclere, the home of Downton Abbey, being the highlight.

This is all in preparation for the puppies' lives as a fully grown guide dogs when they accompany their owners in all aspects of their life. Another very important part of Lucy's life is, of course, relaxing and having fun, so there is lots of play built into her schedule and when she is old enough she will go “free running” like other dogs. Angus is looking forward to showing her his favourite places!

Lucy spends the first fourteen months or so with us before going on to her second stage of Ethel grown uptraining at guide dog school. This is where she learns all the really clever stuff like how to guide a blind or partially sighted owner across the road. When she completes her training we are invited to go to her “graduation”, the point at which she passes her training and is matched with a new owner. It has been an absolute pleasure attending the graduation ceremonies of all our previous puppies. We are so proud of them, of all they have learned and what they go on to achieve.

Ethel and AngusSo there is a little introduction to Lucy and her world. If you are interested in finding out more about her adventures as she grows and trains, she has her own Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/puppywithpurpose/ and she would love to chat with you there!

Do you have a particular cause that you support or charity that is important or special to you?

90 thoughts on “Puppy with a Purpose!”

  1. Gorgeous blog, Nicola. I think what you and your husband do is wonderful, but I also wonder how you can bear to give a puppy up when their training with you is complete. It must be very hard. I suppose Angus is a great comfort in this instance.

    Reply
  2. Gorgeous blog, Nicola. I think what you and your husband do is wonderful, but I also wonder how you can bear to give a puppy up when their training with you is complete. It must be very hard. I suppose Angus is a great comfort in this instance.

    Reply
  3. Gorgeous blog, Nicola. I think what you and your husband do is wonderful, but I also wonder how you can bear to give a puppy up when their training with you is complete. It must be very hard. I suppose Angus is a great comfort in this instance.

    Reply
  4. Gorgeous blog, Nicola. I think what you and your husband do is wonderful, but I also wonder how you can bear to give a puppy up when their training with you is complete. It must be very hard. I suppose Angus is a great comfort in this instance.

    Reply
  5. Gorgeous blog, Nicola. I think what you and your husband do is wonderful, but I also wonder how you can bear to give a puppy up when their training with you is complete. It must be very hard. I suppose Angus is a great comfort in this instance.

    Reply
  6. Thanks, Anne, I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, it is wonderful to have Angus as a constant “dog presence” in the house. He certainly isn’t sorry when the puppies move on and he can have some peace! It is a wrench for us when they go to puppy training school but they are very adaptable and as long as they are happy we are too. Plus we’re proud that they are progressing to the next part of their training!

    Reply
  7. Thanks, Anne, I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, it is wonderful to have Angus as a constant “dog presence” in the house. He certainly isn’t sorry when the puppies move on and he can have some peace! It is a wrench for us when they go to puppy training school but they are very adaptable and as long as they are happy we are too. Plus we’re proud that they are progressing to the next part of their training!

    Reply
  8. Thanks, Anne, I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, it is wonderful to have Angus as a constant “dog presence” in the house. He certainly isn’t sorry when the puppies move on and he can have some peace! It is a wrench for us when they go to puppy training school but they are very adaptable and as long as they are happy we are too. Plus we’re proud that they are progressing to the next part of their training!

    Reply
  9. Thanks, Anne, I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, it is wonderful to have Angus as a constant “dog presence” in the house. He certainly isn’t sorry when the puppies move on and he can have some peace! It is a wrench for us when they go to puppy training school but they are very adaptable and as long as they are happy we are too. Plus we’re proud that they are progressing to the next part of their training!

    Reply
  10. Thanks, Anne, I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, it is wonderful to have Angus as a constant “dog presence” in the house. He certainly isn’t sorry when the puppies move on and he can have some peace! It is a wrench for us when they go to puppy training school but they are very adaptable and as long as they are happy we are too. Plus we’re proud that they are progressing to the next part of their training!

    Reply
  11. In my area we have several no-kill shelters for animals found on the street. Many of the animals are put in “foster” homes until they can find a permanent home for them. I am in awe of people who can do this. I’m sure that there are some they are glad to part with, but I know there are some that it must tear at their hearts to part with. What great work they (and you) do!

    Reply
  12. In my area we have several no-kill shelters for animals found on the street. Many of the animals are put in “foster” homes until they can find a permanent home for them. I am in awe of people who can do this. I’m sure that there are some they are glad to part with, but I know there are some that it must tear at their hearts to part with. What great work they (and you) do!

    Reply
  13. In my area we have several no-kill shelters for animals found on the street. Many of the animals are put in “foster” homes until they can find a permanent home for them. I am in awe of people who can do this. I’m sure that there are some they are glad to part with, but I know there are some that it must tear at their hearts to part with. What great work they (and you) do!

    Reply
  14. In my area we have several no-kill shelters for animals found on the street. Many of the animals are put in “foster” homes until they can find a permanent home for them. I am in awe of people who can do this. I’m sure that there are some they are glad to part with, but I know there are some that it must tear at their hearts to part with. What great work they (and you) do!

    Reply
  15. In my area we have several no-kill shelters for animals found on the street. Many of the animals are put in “foster” homes until they can find a permanent home for them. I am in awe of people who can do this. I’m sure that there are some they are glad to part with, but I know there are some that it must tear at their hearts to part with. What great work they (and you) do!

    Reply
  16. How generous and giving you are. I knew you’ve been doing this a long time. Do you ever see the dogs again after they graduate?

    Reply
  17. How generous and giving you are. I knew you’ve been doing this a long time. Do you ever see the dogs again after they graduate?

    Reply
  18. How generous and giving you are. I knew you’ve been doing this a long time. Do you ever see the dogs again after they graduate?

    Reply
  19. How generous and giving you are. I knew you’ve been doing this a long time. Do you ever see the dogs again after they graduate?

    Reply
  20. How generous and giving you are. I knew you’ve been doing this a long time. Do you ever see the dogs again after they graduate?

    Reply
  21. Nicola, what a wonderful cause to support in such a practical way! Of course Ethel loved bookshops. *G* This is outside my experience because training cats is a complete non-starter, but I love reading about you and your angels-in-training.

    Reply
  22. Nicola, what a wonderful cause to support in such a practical way! Of course Ethel loved bookshops. *G* This is outside my experience because training cats is a complete non-starter, but I love reading about you and your angels-in-training.

    Reply
  23. Nicola, what a wonderful cause to support in such a practical way! Of course Ethel loved bookshops. *G* This is outside my experience because training cats is a complete non-starter, but I love reading about you and your angels-in-training.

    Reply
  24. Nicola, what a wonderful cause to support in such a practical way! Of course Ethel loved bookshops. *G* This is outside my experience because training cats is a complete non-starter, but I love reading about you and your angels-in-training.

    Reply
  25. Nicola, what a wonderful cause to support in such a practical way! Of course Ethel loved bookshops. *G* This is outside my experience because training cats is a complete non-starter, but I love reading about you and your angels-in-training.

    Reply
  26. I am constantly surprised by how different the personality of every animal is. They really are just like us in so many ways.
    You are so lucky to be doing this, but I would also struggle so much with letting them go! I would love to do what you do, however. Those dogs are amazing. I’ve never seen a guide dog in training, but drug/customs dogs in Australia train here in Canberra, and I see them sometimes.
    In a short space of time I looked after five stray cats, and was involved with a no-kill cat shelter, and the cats all either went there, or to new homes.
    The shelter people said to me: ‘You’re so good with loving them and then giving them away. Maybe you want to keep doing it?’
    I was standing there thinking: I just cried ALL NIGHT when I gave two cats away. And I keep picture folders on my computer desktop so I can reminisce whenever I want. I can’t “let go”!

    Reply
  27. I am constantly surprised by how different the personality of every animal is. They really are just like us in so many ways.
    You are so lucky to be doing this, but I would also struggle so much with letting them go! I would love to do what you do, however. Those dogs are amazing. I’ve never seen a guide dog in training, but drug/customs dogs in Australia train here in Canberra, and I see them sometimes.
    In a short space of time I looked after five stray cats, and was involved with a no-kill cat shelter, and the cats all either went there, or to new homes.
    The shelter people said to me: ‘You’re so good with loving them and then giving them away. Maybe you want to keep doing it?’
    I was standing there thinking: I just cried ALL NIGHT when I gave two cats away. And I keep picture folders on my computer desktop so I can reminisce whenever I want. I can’t “let go”!

    Reply
  28. I am constantly surprised by how different the personality of every animal is. They really are just like us in so many ways.
    You are so lucky to be doing this, but I would also struggle so much with letting them go! I would love to do what you do, however. Those dogs are amazing. I’ve never seen a guide dog in training, but drug/customs dogs in Australia train here in Canberra, and I see them sometimes.
    In a short space of time I looked after five stray cats, and was involved with a no-kill cat shelter, and the cats all either went there, or to new homes.
    The shelter people said to me: ‘You’re so good with loving them and then giving them away. Maybe you want to keep doing it?’
    I was standing there thinking: I just cried ALL NIGHT when I gave two cats away. And I keep picture folders on my computer desktop so I can reminisce whenever I want. I can’t “let go”!

    Reply
  29. I am constantly surprised by how different the personality of every animal is. They really are just like us in so many ways.
    You are so lucky to be doing this, but I would also struggle so much with letting them go! I would love to do what you do, however. Those dogs are amazing. I’ve never seen a guide dog in training, but drug/customs dogs in Australia train here in Canberra, and I see them sometimes.
    In a short space of time I looked after five stray cats, and was involved with a no-kill cat shelter, and the cats all either went there, or to new homes.
    The shelter people said to me: ‘You’re so good with loving them and then giving them away. Maybe you want to keep doing it?’
    I was standing there thinking: I just cried ALL NIGHT when I gave two cats away. And I keep picture folders on my computer desktop so I can reminisce whenever I want. I can’t “let go”!

    Reply
  30. I am constantly surprised by how different the personality of every animal is. They really are just like us in so many ways.
    You are so lucky to be doing this, but I would also struggle so much with letting them go! I would love to do what you do, however. Those dogs are amazing. I’ve never seen a guide dog in training, but drug/customs dogs in Australia train here in Canberra, and I see them sometimes.
    In a short space of time I looked after five stray cats, and was involved with a no-kill cat shelter, and the cats all either went there, or to new homes.
    The shelter people said to me: ‘You’re so good with loving them and then giving them away. Maybe you want to keep doing it?’
    I was standing there thinking: I just cried ALL NIGHT when I gave two cats away. And I keep picture folders on my computer desktop so I can reminisce whenever I want. I can’t “let go”!

    Reply
  31. I have been pretty involved with a no-kill shelter here in recent years. The woman I have the most to do with has turned her entire home into a shelter for stray and abandoned cats.
    It is the most incredible thing. She has quite literally given up her entire life for this cause, and we donate regularly, because most people treat her like the RSPCA, when in reality it’s just one woman, helping hundreds of cats a year.

    Reply
  32. I have been pretty involved with a no-kill shelter here in recent years. The woman I have the most to do with has turned her entire home into a shelter for stray and abandoned cats.
    It is the most incredible thing. She has quite literally given up her entire life for this cause, and we donate regularly, because most people treat her like the RSPCA, when in reality it’s just one woman, helping hundreds of cats a year.

    Reply
  33. I have been pretty involved with a no-kill shelter here in recent years. The woman I have the most to do with has turned her entire home into a shelter for stray and abandoned cats.
    It is the most incredible thing. She has quite literally given up her entire life for this cause, and we donate regularly, because most people treat her like the RSPCA, when in reality it’s just one woman, helping hundreds of cats a year.

    Reply
  34. I have been pretty involved with a no-kill shelter here in recent years. The woman I have the most to do with has turned her entire home into a shelter for stray and abandoned cats.
    It is the most incredible thing. She has quite literally given up her entire life for this cause, and we donate regularly, because most people treat her like the RSPCA, when in reality it’s just one woman, helping hundreds of cats a year.

    Reply
  35. I have been pretty involved with a no-kill shelter here in recent years. The woman I have the most to do with has turned her entire home into a shelter for stray and abandoned cats.
    It is the most incredible thing. She has quite literally given up her entire life for this cause, and we donate regularly, because most people treat her like the RSPCA, when in reality it’s just one woman, helping hundreds of cats a year.

    Reply
  36. That’s amazing, Sonya. I do think it’s lovely that animals that have no home are helped in this way and can experience what it is to be comfortable and loved. People who devote their time, energies and/or income to supporting shelters are wonderful.

    Reply
  37. That’s amazing, Sonya. I do think it’s lovely that animals that have no home are helped in this way and can experience what it is to be comfortable and loved. People who devote their time, energies and/or income to supporting shelters are wonderful.

    Reply
  38. That’s amazing, Sonya. I do think it’s lovely that animals that have no home are helped in this way and can experience what it is to be comfortable and loved. People who devote their time, energies and/or income to supporting shelters are wonderful.

    Reply
  39. That’s amazing, Sonya. I do think it’s lovely that animals that have no home are helped in this way and can experience what it is to be comfortable and loved. People who devote their time, energies and/or income to supporting shelters are wonderful.

    Reply
  40. That’s amazing, Sonya. I do think it’s lovely that animals that have no home are helped in this way and can experience what it is to be comfortable and loved. People who devote their time, energies and/or income to supporting shelters are wonderful.

    Reply
  41. Sometimes the owners do keep in touch, Margaret, and it is always lovely to hear how the dogs are getting on. We are lucky that all of the puppies we’ve trained have gone to live with people who send us pictures and update us on their lives.

    Reply
  42. Sometimes the owners do keep in touch, Margaret, and it is always lovely to hear how the dogs are getting on. We are lucky that all of the puppies we’ve trained have gone to live with people who send us pictures and update us on their lives.

    Reply
  43. Sometimes the owners do keep in touch, Margaret, and it is always lovely to hear how the dogs are getting on. We are lucky that all of the puppies we’ve trained have gone to live with people who send us pictures and update us on their lives.

    Reply
  44. Sometimes the owners do keep in touch, Margaret, and it is always lovely to hear how the dogs are getting on. We are lucky that all of the puppies we’ve trained have gone to live with people who send us pictures and update us on their lives.

    Reply
  45. Sometimes the owners do keep in touch, Margaret, and it is always lovely to hear how the dogs are getting on. We are lucky that all of the puppies we’ve trained have gone to live with people who send us pictures and update us on their lives.

    Reply
  46. Haha! Cats have such a different approach, don’t they. I suspect the training is all the other way around with them and us! I did forget to mention, though, that Guide Dogs keep a special cat trainer to work with the puppies when they go to training school. We also are lucky enough to have Parsley locally and he keeps all our puppies in check and lets them know that between cats and dogs there can only be one boss!

    Reply
  47. Haha! Cats have such a different approach, don’t they. I suspect the training is all the other way around with them and us! I did forget to mention, though, that Guide Dogs keep a special cat trainer to work with the puppies when they go to training school. We also are lucky enough to have Parsley locally and he keeps all our puppies in check and lets them know that between cats and dogs there can only be one boss!

    Reply
  48. Haha! Cats have such a different approach, don’t they. I suspect the training is all the other way around with them and us! I did forget to mention, though, that Guide Dogs keep a special cat trainer to work with the puppies when they go to training school. We also are lucky enough to have Parsley locally and he keeps all our puppies in check and lets them know that between cats and dogs there can only be one boss!

    Reply
  49. Haha! Cats have such a different approach, don’t they. I suspect the training is all the other way around with them and us! I did forget to mention, though, that Guide Dogs keep a special cat trainer to work with the puppies when they go to training school. We also are lucky enough to have Parsley locally and he keeps all our puppies in check and lets them know that between cats and dogs there can only be one boss!

    Reply
  50. Haha! Cats have such a different approach, don’t they. I suspect the training is all the other way around with them and us! I did forget to mention, though, that Guide Dogs keep a special cat trainer to work with the puppies when they go to training school. We also are lucky enough to have Parsley locally and he keeps all our puppies in check and lets them know that between cats and dogs there can only be one boss!

    Reply
  51. Hugs, Sonya! It is very difficult to let go when you have built up a relationship with an animal and you care about them. It is definitely the hardest part of the puppy involvement for me too and it’s a tribute to you that you do this when it’s difficult for you.
    I would love to see trainee drugs dogs working. I think they are so clever!

    Reply
  52. Hugs, Sonya! It is very difficult to let go when you have built up a relationship with an animal and you care about them. It is definitely the hardest part of the puppy involvement for me too and it’s a tribute to you that you do this when it’s difficult for you.
    I would love to see trainee drugs dogs working. I think they are so clever!

    Reply
  53. Hugs, Sonya! It is very difficult to let go when you have built up a relationship with an animal and you care about them. It is definitely the hardest part of the puppy involvement for me too and it’s a tribute to you that you do this when it’s difficult for you.
    I would love to see trainee drugs dogs working. I think they are so clever!

    Reply
  54. Hugs, Sonya! It is very difficult to let go when you have built up a relationship with an animal and you care about them. It is definitely the hardest part of the puppy involvement for me too and it’s a tribute to you that you do this when it’s difficult for you.
    I would love to see trainee drugs dogs working. I think they are so clever!

    Reply
  55. Hugs, Sonya! It is very difficult to let go when you have built up a relationship with an animal and you care about them. It is definitely the hardest part of the puppy involvement for me too and it’s a tribute to you that you do this when it’s difficult for you.
    I would love to see trainee drugs dogs working. I think they are so clever!

    Reply
  56. Since I am sensitive to dogs — and now too old to be sure I could manage the responsibility — I can only honor you. It must be awesome, but also terribly hard. My younger niece has adopted rescue dogs, but she keeps them as opposed to passing them on.
    And my older daughter has taken in several “need-to-relocate” cats that had belonged to friends (or were her foundlings). It’s hard enough when we outlive out pets. I’m not sure I could every have given one away.

    Reply
  57. Since I am sensitive to dogs — and now too old to be sure I could manage the responsibility — I can only honor you. It must be awesome, but also terribly hard. My younger niece has adopted rescue dogs, but she keeps them as opposed to passing them on.
    And my older daughter has taken in several “need-to-relocate” cats that had belonged to friends (or were her foundlings). It’s hard enough when we outlive out pets. I’m not sure I could every have given one away.

    Reply
  58. Since I am sensitive to dogs — and now too old to be sure I could manage the responsibility — I can only honor you. It must be awesome, but also terribly hard. My younger niece has adopted rescue dogs, but she keeps them as opposed to passing them on.
    And my older daughter has taken in several “need-to-relocate” cats that had belonged to friends (or were her foundlings). It’s hard enough when we outlive out pets. I’m not sure I could every have given one away.

    Reply
  59. Since I am sensitive to dogs — and now too old to be sure I could manage the responsibility — I can only honor you. It must be awesome, but also terribly hard. My younger niece has adopted rescue dogs, but she keeps them as opposed to passing them on.
    And my older daughter has taken in several “need-to-relocate” cats that had belonged to friends (or were her foundlings). It’s hard enough when we outlive out pets. I’m not sure I could every have given one away.

    Reply
  60. Since I am sensitive to dogs — and now too old to be sure I could manage the responsibility — I can only honor you. It must be awesome, but also terribly hard. My younger niece has adopted rescue dogs, but she keeps them as opposed to passing them on.
    And my older daughter has taken in several “need-to-relocate” cats that had belonged to friends (or were her foundlings). It’s hard enough when we outlive out pets. I’m not sure I could every have given one away.

    Reply

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