Amazing Grace and the End of an Era

Tanvir Naomi BushDisability, Guide Dogs, Visual Impairment, Writing 8 Comments

Grace Hangs up Her Harness

A young black labrador retriever cross bitch sits in the middle of the frame wearing her bright yellow guide dog harness. She has a stern expression on her face. The photographer has used a lens that causes slight distortion around the edges the picture as if one is seeing the image doubled and blurred.

A youthful Grace at work, already with that stern expression of ‘for goodness sake, woman! What now?’

Grace has retired. Yes. It is officially the end of an era. As of last Thursday my wonderful buddy and fellow academic, my guide in the dark, my morning singing, fox poo rolling, clever, funny, huge hearted, rambunctious, co-traveller in this bonkers journey, has been retired. She has been at my side for seven and a half years, guiding me past the death of my Dad, across the county and through my MA and PhD.  She has helped me make friends, taught me so much about courage and dog-ness and inspired my writing. This, for both of us, is going to be a pretty tumultuous change.

Why would she ever need to retire?

Last summer she was very ill indeed. From April to August she had a recurring and devastating infection possibly caused by a tiny splinter that went into the back of her throat. A few mistakes were made. She suffered longer than she needed but in the end the right antibiotics and minor surgery wiped the infection out. But since then she has found harness work tough going.

And the harness…?

Guide dogs are the only assistance dogs that have to turn off their sniff, you see. They need to keep focused on walking in stright lines, guiding their handlers carefully, remaining constantly on target. They follow building lines, kerbs, edges of pavements, head forward, steady gait, a slight tension on the harness so the handler is gently supported along. A distracted sniff could lead to confusion, a crash. The focus is hard and even when lying in an office or seminar room, they are still expected not to sniff, not to get up and go ‘check out the room dog stylie.’ So even lying down and keeping still requires strength and focus. (Even if they seem asleep or snoring). Basicially, the harness work is making Grace uncomfortable and stiff and giving her back ache.

A black and tan retriever/labrador cross dog sits in the centre of the frame with a large green and yellow rubber chicken in her mouth. She (the dog) looks directly at the camera and seems to be grinning.

Yes folks, THIS is your Dr Grace guest blogger next week. Good luck!

She is only nine years old with years of love and happiness to share. She needs fields, woods and puddles, other dogs and … heartbreakingly, another home.

She is going to explain it in more detail when she guest blogs here next week.

Other split endings…

Last week was the beginning of several endings, not just ours of course. Article 50 was triggered like some grotesque version of the Grand National only with blind jockies on blind horses in a mad gallop towards the negotiating hurdles. It is a very bad time for that particular starting pistol anyway. As my political pundit nephew writes in the New Statesman

… the chances that the EU27 and the UK will not come to an agreement at all, particularly by March 2019, are high. Why? In a stroke of misfortune for Britain, 2017 is very probably the worst year in decades to try to leave the European Union. Not just because of the various threats outside the bloc – the election of Donald Trump and the growing assertiveness of Russia – but because of the electoral turmoil inside of it.

Stephen Bush 29th March 2017

Meanwhile on Thursday this week, whilst everyone’s eyes are averted (prisming with tears of either sorrow, pride or just bafflement over Brexit), the government will introduce further welfare cuts which, research has shown, will push about a quarter of a million more children into poverty. I will probably get a bit snarky about this over the next few posts. Just a warning.

Righto, Grace next post and don’t forget to get in touch! I would love to know how you are doing out there!

Comments 8

  1. Amazing Grace will be missed at Buddhist meetings, her greatness and beauty and memories of her lay in my mind forever. I hope she finds a new home near you wonderful Tanvir so that you can both enjoy each other’s company.

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      Thank you so much Heidi! I hope she will be with me for a wee while longer (might be able to bring her to the HQ day) but yes, chanting hard for her perfect next home! T xx

  2. You are so generous in being glad for Grace; that she is now free to be a dog, to romp and roll among a riot of scents she had previously to ignore. But you are thereby bereft of the freedom she gave you – let alone of the love you shared.

    Pastures new,
    for both of you.
    and my love too.

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      Thank you so much dearest Polly! I will keep you posted as to how we manage it all! T xxx

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  3. Hi there! I’m not sure if you’re still looking for a home for Grace, but I’ve seen your friend’s post on Facebook and my mum is very interested in getting in touch. Not sure how to make contact though! She is beautiful and your bond is clearly so strong, I’m sure she’ll have a fantastic retirement. Sarah x

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      Hi Sarah and thank you. We will be selecting the right place for Grace over the next couple of months so if your Mum is still interested she can get in touch via my website or through facebook by sending me a messenger request Tanvir Naomi Bush. We really appreciate your interest and support so do keep in touch!! Best Tanvi and Grace

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