Grace Hangs up Her Harness
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.
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.
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!