Here we go again. Is it unreasonable to ask for some peace and quiet just for one day?It is bad enough that the two legged less hairy race that others call humans must walk around my home acting like they own the place. They may pay the bills and do work around the home, but they all know deep down that this was a far less important place before I got here. Before the Munch reign, they just had themselves to talk amongst and Angus the cat to communicate with. Now they have been introduced to what life with a real star is like as I took over the reign here from day one.Undeterred by Angus’s hostile swipe that greeted me as I first walked through the door, I knew that he would soon back down and be putty in my paws. With every surface that I bless with my hair with around the place (which to be fair is most surfaces), I am claiming the whole estate as my own. The indents on pillows from my sleepy head means that I, King Munch, allow the staff members to know that their spaces are all mine too.This makes my regal labradoodle heart sing out with joy as I know that my staff here love me as one of their own. I don’t like to remind them that they are lowly staff members and I am above them in importance as that would just be too harsh. What I do like to remind them of however is that Angus and Faith the tortoise are not always welcome in the same room as I as they only try and compete for attention which clearly, they are not entitled too.Admittedly Angus was here first but when it comes to cats versus dogs, we should always be respected.I for one have never killed another small bird or animals like Angus has done and brought it home for the maid. How dull is he? Does he really think that a dead mouse or bird on the floor is really a gift for squeamish vegan? I think not. I am sure she has not truly forgiven him for when the maid left an Imprint of her heel on the body of a dead rat he had brought into the house a couple of years ago. At least us guide dogs know never to leave objects in the way of a blind person. My toys are a different matter as she will soon her them squeak if she stands on them.As for Faith, she really does think that she is the new kid on the block. As not every household has a tortoise, but most have a cat or a dog, she loves all the attention that she gets from others. Playing the “I am slow and innocent” really doesn’t fool me as she is soon fast enough to clamber over my tail as I innocently sit at my maid’s feet patiently waiting for my share of the food on the maid’s plate. A tortoise can be more diva like than you think and there is not room for two of us diva’s in this family.On reflection though, I suppose being surrounded by the two legged less hairy race, Angus and Faith does mean that I will never be alone as that would break my heart. We all need others around us and although I know that I, King Munch, will always rule this place I cannot imagine life without them. Being part of a loving network of odd people and animals is better than being alone. Whoever and however you connect with others, keep making sure you do connect. Your funny tribe of souls that you find yourself surrounded by are really just perfect as they are.
It is the little things that we do in life that means the most. A sweet loving gaze given to a lonely old soul can make a person feel noticed in an isolated world. The universal language of smiling will always be welcomed wherever you are in the world so smile away to keep connected wherever you may be. A lively hello can lift the vibration of a person filled with sadness and help them to remember a different way of life. Whatever that little thing you do for someone else will always be the right thing if it comes from a place of love.
Munch always does his own little thing in his own little way whenever he can. The day that the above picture was taken, we had just had a heavy day in work. Working as a counsellor is an amazing and rewarding job but with it also brings a lot of sadness. Listening to children talk about the hardships that they are facing in life is never easy to hear as I just want to wave a magic wand for them to make it all better. Deep down I know that this will pass, and life will get better. but I feel the deep pain that they are carrying around with them which is the worst feeling ever.I may not have a magic wand for the clients to use but I do have a magic weapon that helps them escape from their sadness even if it is just momentarily.
My hairy secret weapon called Munch, gives them permission to feel secure pain in a non- judgemental way. Giving them his hairy body for them to cry into is only one of the ways he likes to help. As they snuggle their faces in him and soak him with tears, he becomes the rock that they need at that moment. He gives them his heart as freely as he gives them his paw to greet them into the world of friendship forever. He raises a laugh from a place long forgotten when he puts on an act that he known will help.
From chasing his tail to preforming the dying fly, he takes them out of their own world and into another where problems don’t exist. He gives them his toy to make them play fetch but makes them do all the fetching just to keep them on their toes. Whatever he can do to lift their spirits, he will do it with passion. The beauty of animal healing never fails to raise spirits as they come from a place of love where nothing, but perfection exists.
As we sat on the floor together that day, with him partly on my lap, it felt like we were both reflecting on a day that we made little differences to our client’s lives. It felt like Munch was born to help others in his quirky little ways that filled his heart with as much joy as the recipients. He would not suit every guide dog owner as his Drama King stubborn qualities do not suit everyone but to me, he is just perfect. His little things in life make up a whole package of perfection that I hope will never be forgotten.
Your little things in life make perfect memories so keep them flowing for a better world.
So, the knee operation went well, and it is beginning to heal nicely. Most importantly though, I know you are all wondering how Munch has coped with it all. Here is a quick rundown of how he coped on op day.
7.30am – We arrived at the hospital and were shown to our own cubicle as they aware that Munch was coming in with me. As soon as we entered the room and the nurse left to get the paperwork to fill in, Munch went to jump up on the bed immediately. I caught him mid air and firmly told him to get down before Infection control on the ward had a total meltdown.
9am – Two nurses, the anaesthetist, surgeon, surgical procedure representative and a few passing people in the corridor had come to say hi to Munch and fallen in love with him. Many asked if they take him home with them, others just settled for a fuss.
10.30am – Munch went home for a little run and nap with my friend whilst I popped down to theatre. In the anaesthetic room the anaesthetist asked where Munch had gone which started a conversation off with the anaesthetic nurse about Munch and her nine stone New Foundland dog and the anaesthetist’s Golden retriever. After the spinal was administered and we were all busy laughing about doggy antics, the surgeon came in and asked whenever we were finished having our loud party, he was ready for us. Ooops, I always seem to get told off for laughing too loud and causing mayhem.
1.50pm – After a bit of ACL ligament removal and donor replacement, bone shaving, bone grafting and anchoring into place with some screws, I woke up in the recovery room to another nurse asking me about Munch. They had obviously been talking about him when I was in the sedated land of nod. After hearing more doggy stories from this new person it was time to go back up onto the ward.
3pm – During routine obs I was asked when Munch was coming back. My “when I get discharged” answer was not good enough apparently, so the nurse went to ask the other staff members and they said to bring him back now if I wanted to as they loved having him there. We settled on asking him to come back at 6.30 for the staff to have their Munch fix before they finished their shift.
6.30 – I was informed by my friend that brought him back that he was stopped in the corridor on the way up and was told by one of the nurses that he shouldn’t have taken him home as she missed him (Munch not my friend). I knew by the “Oh’s” that I heard when he came back that Munch was back on the ward and heading my way. After a quick sniff of my bandaged knee and a few gentle kisses he settled back down in the room but not before he gave me the obligatory “you are in MY bed” look.
7.45pm – Munch popped his head out in the corridor (whilst off harness but on his lead), to have a little nosey around. Two of the new night staff saw him and fell in love with him. I heard more and more voices coming over to him and cooing all over him as I was told there were six members of staff in all there fussing all over him. Questions fired at him and fuss was made, two even got sloppy kisses from him which I am sure they soon washed off with anti-bacterial wash
9.10pm – The porter came to collect us to take us to the main doors to go home. Munch had a quick sniff of him for approval which began off a whole new set of doggy stories from his own life.
All in all, it is fair to say that Munch had a lovely day full of fuss and attention. I had a day filled with sweet dog stories from all directions from people I never would have really had these conversations with them if it wasn’t for Munch. That day, my knee op was just a minor triviality in life with Munch. He has yet to go anywhere subtly and seems to always be centre of attention but that is the way that I always want to keep it. He is the best pain relief ever!
Hey, come and meet my new best friend! I heard the maid wrote a post about me a little while ago saying that it was taking me time to get used to Faith the tortoise. Well, let me tell you MY version of events before you make up your mind about who is right and which maid was wrong.
I have known Faith and Hero (her brother) for the last two years and I have often gone up to the vivarium that they were in or the run outside that they exercised in and graced them with seeing my handsome face. I knew that my face would brighten up anyone’s day as who could resist my Labradoodle good looks? I sometimes barked to ask them if they wanted to come and play but the spoil sports never did.They lived with my two legged less hairy grandparents so I knew them quite well and it was on top of their indoor home that my treats were kept so there will always be a special place in my heart for them ( I mean my treats but I suppose I also mean the tortoises) .
When Hero went missing a few weeks ago after they had both hatched an escape plan from their outdoor run, my grandparents felt like they needed to be somewhere where they had more freedom, so the maid offered to have them. Hero is still missing in action although we believe he is exploring the great outdoors of the lush Welsh land so will be fine and will not starve. Faith however has made herself comfy in MY home.
Apparently, my barking at her when she arrived and touching her with my paw and mouth was not acceptable, so the maid kept us apart for a while. I finally got around to train the maid to give me a treat for every time I was around Faith on my lead and didn’t bark. The next step I trained her in was when she allowed me to go near Faith without my lead on. I remained silent and had masses of fuss and a treat. This training process of my maid only took me a matter of four days which was impressive as it usually takes me longer to train her in other areas.
We have now got to the stage that I go and find Faith when the maid asks me too and sniff her out where I will stay with her until the maid comes over. As the maid cannot see, I am her eyes in looking after Faith and have gone to get her a few times when Faith gets stuck between two objects and needs rescuing.
Although I am still top dog in the family and the two legged less hairy race, Angus and Faith are below me, I am willing to admit that I like having all of these around. Faith and I will get on just fine I think as I admire her pace of life and her low maintenance ways doesn’t interfere with my high maintenance standards. I think we will soon become best of friends.
Bring on the next challenge of letting me train my maid and trick her into giving me treats to stop my”unacceptable “behaviour. I wonder when my next new best friend will arrive for some more delicious training treats?
I wonder what his placard would have said if he had one.
I WANT FREEDOM. WHEN DO I WANT IT? NOW?
1 HOUR WORKDAYS ARE TOO MUCH
YOU MUST OBEY THE KING
I BARK, YOU LISTEN
Many may have thought that this sit-down protest came out of nowhere but I, his maid, knew him well enough to know that I was obviously asking too much of him. I was asking him to pass a place of play that he loved to cause mischief in. His on-duty Harness wearing persona Minster was out doing his guide dog duties but his Munch like side was triggered by the sight of wide-open grass. What was a dog to do?
As his pace slowed down, I knew we were in trouble. His gentle leader clad head softly turned to his left as his heart began to long for some freedom. He wanted to bound around like a leaping lamb in the place where he has spent many a morning leading Elle the golden Labrador astray. A place where he has accidentally on purpose run off with a ball or two from some poor unsuspecting dog just for the banter. It is here that he has had many an unsuccessful attempt to jump up into the trees that may have a squirrel or two. Basically, this is one of the places that he can be free to be the clown that he was born to be.
The problem that I had on this day was that I did not have my cane with me or his bell collar that I use to hear where he is as opposed to seeing where he is so I could not really let him off his harness. He had already had a run in the morning and a 3 mile walk so was far from exercise deprived but his cold shoulder was telling me different. His sit down protest lasted a good 15 minutes and despite my reasoning with his rational side, he refused to budge. He was going in that field one way or another and I was just going to have to deal with it.
During our pointless one-way conversation, a person had passed by twice commenting “oh, you are still here then” on the way back. I really wanted to say “yes, my owner has decided he is not budging until he gets his own way” but I settled with the little fib of “Yes we are just having a rest in the fresh air”. Not wanting to be reported for loitering with intent (although I am not sure what harm a blind woman and a stubborn guide dog could be accused of), it was time to compromise. He would get his own way, but he would have to stay on the lead to help me avoid any trip hazards.
Slipping his harness off his body, I could sense his hopes getting up. When I failed to unclip his lead from his collar, I sensed his hopes fall. Not a good thing for this drama king to experience as I knew that although he thought had got what he wanted; he was not wholly free. His sulking shoulders were reluctant to move his legs at a quickened pace to begin with, but he soon warmed up to the compromise that we had come too with semi freedom being offered.
Over the last two and a half years, he has trained me very well. It was clear from the start that he was the one in relationship that called the shots and I was daft enough to obey. He works so hard for me and has allowed me to return to work and live independently again so it is only fair that there is a lot of give and take in the relationship. Learning to compromise in any relationship is essential to be able to hear each other’s needs be it a romantic relationship, family relationship, friendship or a relationship with animals.
If I had a guide dog that totally obeyed my every command out of fear of being disciplined, I would feel utterly heartbroken. He dedicates his life to helping me get around and fills the hearts of people that he meets with pure love and joy, so if he wants to have a little tantrum now and again so be it. We are equal beings with equal needs that need to be heard. If your animal is training you well too, be grateful that he/she feels comfortable enough to ask you. When we learn to listen and let go of control, we learn to love unconditionally.
Do you promise I only have a few more shifts to go until the holidays?
I know that is what he is thinking as I have been promising him this time off for a long time. The beauty of working in schools is that we have a lot of holidays which suits Munch just fine. He was put on this earth for many things such as giving and receiving an abundance of love, being a constant source of entertainment, training people to pander to his needs but work? ……not so much.
Most of his workday is spent laying around on his bed, client’s feet or in a corner in a huff. When he is not in his horizontal hibernation, he can be found playing with his toys, giving a client his paw to demand attention or doing the dying fly impersonation on the floor to centre all attention around his dramatic display. Keeping all of that in mind, I use the word work in the loosest of terms in relation to Munch.
He is even more excited this year as he has an extra week off than our usual 6 weeks so 7 weeks of off duty fun awaits him. When he will be running around freely on a field somewhere or swimming in a river, I will be slightly out of action with a healing knee after the upcoming operation that is happening in 2 weeks-time. I cannot wait to hear from his dog walkers what mischief he gets up to on his days out.
Everything is planned out to make sure that he has the most fun summer ever. A timetable of fun awaits him whilst I may be stuck indoors for a little while. I have a feeling that as he hangs up his harness for a few weeks he will have no regret, only happiness coursing through his body. I cannot wait to sense how happy he is each time he is brought home with a tired-out body and his bank of joy filled up.
Healing from the operation will be much easier if I know everyone is taken care of. The children are all sorted, and I know will be a great help. Angus and Faith will be happy doing their own cat and tortoise thing, but it is Munch who I have been most concerned about. Will he unlearn his guide dog commands when he is off? Will he have a tantrum when his harness goes back om him in a few weeks? Will he demand new working conditions when he returns to his role when I am more mobile?
I know that even when I am on crutches whilst wearing a Robocopesque leg brace, we will learn to listen to each other and work as partners in our own unique way. Munch is rather a fan of the slower pace of life, so I don’t think my new pace of walking will annoy him too much. A pocket full of treats and lots of fuss and praise may help soften his heart when he returns to a slower pace of work life.
I will keep you all posted on his summer escapades which will no doubt bring a smile or two to your face. The harness free pics will hopefully show his fun off duty summer that he deserves so much. Let the fun begin.
She calls herself a dedicated maid who loves me so much but here I am having to rely on a supermarket toilet hand dryer to give me the blow dry that I should be receiving everyday as part of my grooming regime.
Do you think it is too late for me to request new staff members who treat me with more respect and appreciate my regal ways? Here she is bringing me to a common place and not even apologising. The untrained eye may see me as just a guide dog and not the King that I really am.
She makes me walk and refuses to carry me because apparently, I am too big. She refuses to give me all her food when I look at her in “that way” with my adorable eyes and only gives me bits whilst muttering “don’t tell anyone form guide dogs or the vet that I am giving you this”.
She makes me shower when I don’t want to. I will swim in rivers and the sea whenever I get a chance, yet she finds it puzzling that I will not walk in the rain. Apparently to the maid it is odd, but I think she is the odd one who expects me to be reasonable with her. I don’t do reason very well. I overheard her once laughing and saying to a friend that she doesn’t think I am trained when it is obvious that SHE is the one that is not trained. I have high standards that she clearly has trouble meeting such as now.
Here I am, King Munch having to rely on a hand dryer to get the blow dry I should be getting daily. Appearance is everything to a handsome fella like me so does she think that daily brushing is enough for the upkeep of my public persona? My telepathic pleas for a permenant personal poodle pamper staff member has fallen on an unreceptive brain so what is a dog to do? The only way to get through to her to demonstrate my needs is obviously to show her although she cannot see. By stepping between her and the hand dryer each time I am hoping that she will get the message that I should have a far more deluxe version at home for my personal usage which I will choose at my convenience.
Could you do me a favour please? If you ever see me lowering my standards and getting blow dried in public could you, please give my maid a nudge to tell her that she needs to install a full doggie grooming parlour in my residence please? Between us we will educate her on my needs as a regal being. Falling from my pedestal is never easy so please send loving thoughts my way until my correct positioning in the hierarchy in the family can commence. Much doggy love sent your way.
When a guide dog meets his/her new working partner, neither of their lives will ever be the same again.
After months of training to become super intelligent guide dogs that will give their time and love unconditionally to their new partners, they begin to weave their magic into the life of their new best friend. The blessed person with sight loss who has been awaiting this guide dog gift day for a long time can begin to attempt to return to some normality of life safe in the knowledge that they have a furry friend helping them. It will be the mix of both of their energies that will create a foundation for the most life changing bond that they will ever experience.
Matching guide dog to partner goes way beyond pairing up the first dog that is available. The needs of the guide dog partner are known and is key in choosing which dog will be suitable. Some matches will not work out and the partnership may be brief, whereas others will last for over 8 years and will create a bond that will never be forgotten. The guide dog will become part of the family, part of the community and most importantly part of the person that walks along their righthand side throughout life.
Guide dogs are far from over worked robots who do nothing but serve the person in their life. They are far more than a pet and far less than a slave. They go places that many animals never get to experience, and they get admired by the onlookers who see their beauty and their worth. They get to put smiles on the faces of people who live in loneliness and feel the love from strangers that surrounds them when they cross their paths. The extended family that the guide dog comes from with the old puppy walkers, trainers and guide dog staff have all had an essential role in helping the dog reach their full potential.
Since Munch came into my life the “I” has ceased and the “we” has begun. His needs are always top priority (along with the children) when I wake in the morning. Creating a happy life for him is key in us being able to work as a partnership throughout our life together. People always see us as a package now and where they see one of us, they expect to see the other. He plays more than he works, and he is pampered and never struggles. My love for him grows each day, and the mischievous imperfections that make him who he is, I hope will keep evolving.
The universe was in cahoots with our souls when it matched us together and for that I will be ever grateful. Being known as the one with “the unusual guide dog”, always makes me smile and my heart fills with joy. Becoming one with this drama loving, chilled out mischief maker means that I get to witness things that I never would have without him. I really hope that you get to become one with a furry or non-furry being in life and appreciate their quirky ways. Merged lives can expand the solitary life that will soon become a distant memory when we trust the oneness of all living beings.
This may take a while.
How hard can it be introducing a new pet into the family? The moment Munch stepped paw into the house two and a half years ago, he was confronted with Angus my adorable black rescue cat who wouldn’t say boo or meow to a goose. He did however want to say hiss to a great big oaf of a Labradoodle that came hurtling through his front door. A swift swipe of his outstretched paw told Munch that he was being met with a hostility stand off rather than a welcoming committee. That set the tone for the relationship that they have today. Sweet Angus still rules, and Munch just obeys which to be fair is shocking as Angus is the only non-staff members of Munch in the family.
Now we have a new animal on the block in the form of my parent’s adorable tortoise Faith, Her brother Hero is still missing in action having escaped from their garden three weeks ago. The plan is that if he returns form his little jaunt, then he will be coming to join his sister in his new habitat. Introducing Faith to Munch has not been as smoothly as we had imagined though as he is not sure what to make of this odd-looking walking shell. A sniff here and there has only added to his confusion to this non canine like creature.
We have been searching like mad for the best way to introduce a tortoise to mischievous Munch and we are still crossing our fingers that he will soon act nonchalant like he does to everyone else. Apart from squirrels, he never gets this excited over any living being so I am crossing every body part that I have, that his excited barks will soon ease off and be replaced by a silent glance over his shoulder as he watches Faith slowly walk past him on a lazy afternoon stroll. Surely her chilled out attitude in life will speak to his inner sloth and they can become the best of friends.
Until then short bursts of sniffing Faiths new home, alternating access to free runs in the garden and treats for every time he does not bark and try and scare sweet Faith may be the way forward. I am crossing my fingers that I will one day be able to take a picture of Munch, Angus and Faith all being friends as their beautiful soul’s merge into a trio of friends.
“Well, his official name is Minster as he was sponsored by Lincoln Minster Prep school, but I have nicknamed him Munch”, joked the trainer that had brought this beautiful hairy soul into my life. It wasn’t long before I knew why his nickname had come about.
Led by a typical Labrador stomach, Munch cruised through life hoovering up unwanted food debris with utter dedication to this life path that he had chosen. One of the advantages of being a guide dog was that he could go places that other dogs were not allowed. Working alongside his maid in different schools around the area meant that he had a lot of ground to selflessly cover in relation to removal of food waste. Not a break or dinner time went past that this hard-working soul was not on high alert for removing any food-based slip hazards that the two legged less hairy race could slip on. No corner remained unexplored on his shift.
Just the other day he was faced with preventing an urgent food spillage that was about to happen right before his eyes. As his maid was taking him through the reception area of a school, he spotted a potential health and safety hazard about to occur on his patch. Being the ever-vigilant hero that he is, he knew he had little time and had to act fast. Prevention was always better than cure, so he stepped up to the mark without a second thought for his safety. There in front of him dangling at face height was a chicken tikka panini in a careless hand. Knowing the damage that such a spillage could cause on the carpeted floor he sprang into action and put his own safety on the line. Saving the school cleaner a messy clean-up, he did what any decent citizen would have done and went in for the chomp.
Rescuing the whole panini in his mouth, he stood with pride showing off his heroic skills. The gasps of the astonished people all around him was obviously a shared appreciation of his bravery wasn’t it? As he stood with half of the panini poking lengthways out of his mouth, he pondered how he was going to get the whole lot in his mouth at record speed. It was in that moment that everything changed. Out of nowhere, the cruel hand of the maid came around to remove the mid-air panini part out of his mouth for some strange reason. There he stood, the top food spillage preventor around, being relieved of his duties. How could this be happening?
As he quickly ate the remaining of the chicken tikka panini that was safe in his mouth, he heard a lot of commotion from the two legged less hairy race. The maid was saying sorry a million times for some strange reason and there was a lot of giggling going on around him. As the maid offered to buy the pupil a new panini, he stood in utter amazement that nobody had stopped to thank him. After all those years of perfecting his cleaning up skills, nobody could see that he was just being of service the best he could. What had the world come too when a top dog is no longer celebrated? The mind boggles.
Entering the office in reception a few moments later, he received the standing ovation that he rightly deserved as the three receptionists laughed at his little show. With his helicopter like tail rotating in excitement, he allowed the ladies to come and stroke him. The maid was still rambling on about some “little monkey” that she knew but he did not know what she meant. A quick sniff in the bin under one of the receptionist’s desks gave the ladies in the office the all clear from any potential food disasters. Regardless of the maid carrying on about being embarrassed by that little monkey that she kept harping on about, he went straight back into his professional role. He was not a quitter.
Arriving back in their counselling room with a full belly and job satisfaction, he drank two bowls full of water and settled down for the afternoon. The lack of appreciation from the maid filled him with disappointment. He decided to put her in the doghouse and give her the cold shoulder for the remainder of the day. Withdrawing his love for her he made her beg for his forgiveness to get back in his good books. He is sure he heard her saying something about there being a panini thief around, but he couldn’t be sure. He needed a rest before he had to go and tackle any more crime and prevention.
If you ever need a food spillage expert to come to your area for a major clean-up operation, just give Munch a call. He knows you will appreciate him more than his maid does.