And number 8 of the Guide Dogs of Christmas is…. Minster Munch. I mean he was going for number 1 but he was happy for number 8 after I explained to him that number 8 symbolises infinite so that was good enough for the Lord and Master.
Guide Dogs are using these images as a fundraising tool that can be used in schools and such places where a treasure hunt of the 12 Guide Dogs of Christmas can be found dotted around a place by children. They may also be used in some social media. They asked if they could use an image of Minster Munch to show all the different types of Guide Dogs that they use. The typical labradors and the more unusual Munch types.
If Munch was asked to come up with his own version of the 12 Days of Christmas , it may go a little like this….
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
12 Balls Bouncing
11 Reindeers Raced
10 Snowmen Scattered
9 Dinners Dropping
8 Presents Pinched
7 Tasty Treats
6 Bells Boken
5 Gourmet Meals
4 Nose Kisses
3 Brand new Toys
2 Festive outfits
And a world that just loves me…
Each year that he is with me, I feel he deserves more and more good things in return. Santa and I have an arrangement to turn a blind eye (or in my case just my eye🙂) when he slips over to the naughty list and praise him when he returns to the good list.
It is so lovely to have Munch’s handsome face as one of the 12 Guide Dogs of Christmas as a resource raising funds for such a fab charity. This little showman makes everyday feel like Christmas.
Some decisions in life feel simple to make, whilst others are portals into a labyrinth of never-ending questions that can occur as new possibilities become open to you. Choosing to apply for a Guide Dog is no exception to this.
We have been recently counselling a client who is at this exact decision- making point in their lives. As Guide Dogs have recently extended their services to include children and young people to offer the service of Buddy Dogs along with other fantastic services that they provide, young people now have an opportunity to experience what it is like to have a Buddy Dog that will expose them to what life would be like with a furry friend. These Buddy Dogs are not mobility aids as such as Guide Dogs are, but it is such an amazing way to have insight into what it is like to have someone by your side each and everyday who is there for you.
Working with my adolescent client brought back lots of feeling of what the application process brought up and questions that seem to be universal in the lead up to being gifted a dog. Guide Dogs and Buddy Dogs are not pets so applying for one goes beyond the ‘it will be amazing to have a cute dog in the house’ train of thought. With such dogs coming already trained to a high standard, there will be no need for a puppy training class as they would have already been trained by dedicated individuals who work and volunteer for Guide Dogs. This life changing best friends that enter our lives are never just a dog.
On a personal level admitting that I needed a Guide Dog felt in a way, revoking the empowerment that I had felt throughout life when I was able to navigate the world alone without people knowing the severity of my sight loss. By admitting I needed help felt like going from independence to dependence on another to be able to get around. Non-Guide Dog users often think of Guide Dogs as allowing independence (which they certainly do), but initially the feelings can be quite the opposite. This is something that I talked to my client at great lengths about which seemed to help as he knew someone had been through the same thing that nobody else seemed to understand.
The magnetic draw of Munch’s pleading eyes and serene presence in the room helped for my client to experience what a real-life Guide Dog was like and he had space to ask as many questions as possible. In these conversations we established that Guide Dogs and Buddy Dogs are all as unique as us humans, can be both mischievous and perfectly well behaved, can be ball thieves and avoid distractions and a million other things in-between. They will almost definitely deserve a birthday celebration to thank them for their service to us and gifts from family members will always appear each year under the Christmas tree. You will no longer be a sole entity but part of a partnership and expect people to greet your dog before they greet you.
These hairy soul mates of ours that appear in our lives can only arrive after the loving dedications of the people who have turned them into the characters that they are today. From people who donate to this fab charity, the puppy walkers who must have patience of saints and the Guide Dog staff who deserve more praise than they ever get. We are matched with the dogs that the staff feel match us perfectly and work with us if there are teething problems. Guide Dogs and Buddy Dogs are only possible because of the beautiful creations of the bond between the animal and the human world.
When my client asked, ‘do you think I will have a dog like Munch?’, I responded ‘you will have your own version of Munch’. I am crossing my fingers that his perfect Buddy Dog is getting ready to imprint their paws on the heart of their new best friend soon now that children and young people can feel the true power of these special souls
Each year our canine cuties bring award winning achievements into our lives, which deserve honouring. From Gwyn the German Shepard rescuing it’s human family from burning buildings, to Bertha the Bichon Frise strutting her stuff on the Dog walk to win hair style of the year, each dog should be celebrated. There are of course exceptions to every rule. For there to be a top of the list hierarchy, there also needs to be well….bottom of the list too. Interestingly, there are some dogs that slide between top dog and mischief maker is milliseconds. The category that these furry fireballs belong too is “The Angelic Rogues”. For the sixth year running, Minster Cooper (a.k.a. Munch) has stolen the prize for his consistant and outstanding achievements in this area yet again.
Born to beautifully behaved nurturing mother Hettie (a black labrodor) and perfectly presented boffin dad Pringle (a handsome cream poodle), Munch first placed his paw prints on this world on 18th December 2014. Arguable, the naughtiest in the litter, Munch left a mark on people’s hearts (and patience levels) since day one. Never one to shy away from the limelight, Munch has always succeeded in being central to any drama that unfolds in his vicinity without fail. His expertise in deflection has always allowed him to use his innocent looks to throw any onlookers off the truth trail whilst they look elsewhere for the source of mischief.
Playing Tug of War with a fellow canine whilst using a net curtain instead of a rope, was an early sign of his creativity during his first few months of life. After getting off a flower bed after a row only to seconds later get on another flower bed (repeated multiple times) shows that Munch has wonderful decision making skills that are malleable to any situation. From these examples of creativity and decision making skills it is clear to see why Munch was destined to be …..a Guide Dog. I mean, with such a personality what could possibly go wrong?
Taking Guide Dog training all in his huge stride, Munch passed with flying colours. Obedience training must have been…interesting. With the determined poodle streak shining out for multiple galaxies to see, Munch learnt how to use his ‘On-duty angel, off-duty rascal’ sides of his personality to the max. A straight A student on harness in work mode, he learnt how to build up enough good boy points to transfer them to his time off tantrums so that he would not get in trouble. Acquired knowledge has been key in the career path of this Angelic Rogue.
After being placed with his ‘owner’ four years ago (ha ha, as if anyone could ever own him), he turned the tables pretty quick by demonstrating his world class Leadership skills. After the very first meeting, he manageaged to single pawedly turn her into his maid. Always out front in or out of harness, Munch has led her along many paths whether she wanted to go there or not. He even got her to write a book about him and how talented he was. As What You See When You Can’t See flew off the shelves in 2019, he was perplexed to why it had taken this long for anyone to say how amazing he was. He knew that not only was he the best Labradoodle in the world but arguable the best dog in the universe. It was just a shame that the maid kept bringing up some mishaps that had occurred along the way.
Admittedly, there was that incident that got his human grandmother stuck on his back after a funeral, as he attempted to take his 32 Inch high body under her 25 Inch legs, but that was just a case of a mathematical miscalculation. The wanted posters for the worlds’ biggest ball thief that just happens to resemble him is not him he assures everyone, just a wannabe. A swift investigation of an alleged pasty thieving incident from the hands of a 3 year old was quickly quashed as Munch argued she was holding it out for him to eat. Panini Gate, where Munch upped his stakes from pasty to panini from the outstretched hand of a pupil, was happily settled out of court with the gift of a replacement panini and box of chocolates. Up until now, Munch has kept his good reputation. Things did change however earlier this week.
Trotting along on his free run, he came across one of his favourite things. A stick. Unfortunately, said stick was being held in the hands of a young boy which meant only one thing to Munch. Playtime. As Munch gently attached himself to the other end of the stick and happily pranced alongside the chatty boy, a friendship was made. Unfortunately, the friendship was short lived when the boy threw the stick for Munch to fetch and Munch brought back half the stick a few minutes later. The little boys dream of fighting dragons with his once powerful stick was now shattered as he had to set his sights on fighting ants instead. Apologies were made and another stick found but it wasn’t quite the same as the dragon fighting weapon he once knew.
Stern words have been had with Munch about taking sticks off children which is just as bad as stealing sweets from them. His eye rolls and sights say it all really, the Angelic Rogue doesn’t see the fuss. He believes munching on sticks is his God given right as a dog. It has been a hard decision but it is only fair that he will be placed in the Doggy Hall of Shame until he feels remorse for his actions. The only thing is, he sees it as another badge of honour as he sits under the Mischief Maker of the Month category. He has his eyes set on the Mayor of Mayhem award which we will keep you updated on. There is always one and it’s always him!
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a Munch.
Maybe it was the stolen ham sandwiches that had lay in his reach, that made his body resemble a peach.
All round and hairy he lay in the way and was too full to even attempt to play.
Until that was, his best friend came along and started to sing him an encouraging song.
His ears pricked up and he gazed at her face, wanting her to come and rest in his space.
A bond like this, warms even the coldest of hearts, especially when their mischievous adventure starts.
Mix the energy of a three-year-old child and a labradoodle together and there is one thing that you will never hear and that is peace and quiet. Their mischievous footsteps that fail to tiptoe through the house means that they are in pursuit of happiness. A thrown ball here and a shared pack of crisps there, makes two beautiful souls come together and fill each other with joy.
My beautiful granddaughter was only nine months old when our almost Shetland pony sized Munch became part of our family and I wondered how they would get on. I need not have worried as it is as if their silent glances to one another communicated that they saw the world in the same mesmerising way. They loved people, loved affection and were rather partial to food. Isn’t that the bases of any good friendship? To them, it was.
The old souls that lived within each of them felt like they have lived before alongside each other in a previous life as they knew each other so well. As Munch lay stretching his long body out on the floor, my granddaughter would crawl with maturely around him not wanting to disturb him. From the first stroke that she gave him with her cute dimpled hand, she was soft and lovingly gentle and never rough. Munch in return was the gentlest of giants with her.
He always greeted her with kisses and would follow her around like a shadow. If she cried, he ran to her to see how he could help and did not leave her side until she was better. He climbed onto the bottom of the bed where she slept when she was older and remained there with Angus the cat to be the pair of bodyguards that every girl needed. The sound of her voice on the phone would set his helicopter tail off wagging in excitement as he heard his best friend. This was just the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Fast forward three years on and their friendship is unbreakable. She calls him her baby boy and ensures that he has everything that he needs. On Christmas Eve she tucked him in and told him to go to sleep early ready for Santa to bring him his present. As she placed his heart pillow underneath his heavy head, she whispered “I love you so much Munch”, to which he gave her a doggy kiss in return. There may never be much peace and quiet with these two around when they are together but there is always peace and love in their own shared world. What else could I ever wish for on Earth?
However, you spent your holidays, I hope that you found your own version of peace somewhere. Love and blessings.
It is true what they say, good things do come in small packages. Our good small package came in the form of my granddaughter. It was this adorable small package that was an instant calming measure on my high-speed hurtling heavy goods canine that had joined our household. Swirling like a tornado through the house, off duty Munch stopped in his tracks when he met my nine-month old granddaughter for the first time. He engaged the new sight of this small two-legged friend by sniffing, licking and nuzzling into her, whilst she looked on bemused. She must have wondered why one of her soft toys had come alive and started acting bizarrely. This puzzled look still reappears 17 months on when he is in full acting mode.
At first, I was a little bad minded and thought his total love towards her was because she was the best food dropper ever as he became a permanent fixture next to her highchair. As soon as I mention her name, his ears prick up and he waggles his body with sheer delight. Apart from the cupboard love he gets from her, he loves her toys more than his own and often runs off with them expecting a good game of chase from her. It soon became obvious that his total adoration and utter devotion to her goes way beyond her dropped Wotsits and stolen Peppa Pigs. He loves her for the tranquil, blissful energy that she brings to him. This tiny level headed, authoritative granddaughter of mine can calm the little mischief maker with a look and command which is more than I can usually do.
She has a sagacious way about her that goes way beyond her tender age of two. She nurtures her family, friends, Munch and toys like a true earth mother. She emphasis her thoughts and feelings like an Oscar winning actress as she wears her heart on her sleeve. Whenever she is in the room with Munch they merge into this beautiful blissful bubble that transcends the animal and human divide. She treats him with respect and with great softness when they are together. When one of them sleeps, the other watches over their sleeping soul mate protectively. She sees past his wild haired body and his doggy breath and treats him as an equal in her love filled world. She is the pure love that he thrives on and vice versa.
As like attracts like, these two beautiful souls are a perfect match. When off duty Munch becomes on duty Minister, he guides not only myself but my granddaughter too. He steers her away from debris on the pavements or obstacles that she may miss. He stops at pavement edges and she models his behaviour. He stalls at a hazard and she, rests by his side. They work as a team. When out working, he may have gently removed a sausage roll from her hand and placed it into his stomach once or twice, but she never seems to care. They love each other unconditionally. If we all got along like these two special souls, then our lives would be far more harmonious. Regardless of what size package we come in, goodness is the only choice that creates the loving unity that we all deserve. Choose your packages wisely.