The Birthday Boy celebrated by coming out for some delicious lunch, opened some tasty treats and had some Christmas themed toys. A good free run later, and he went back to his 100 mph couch potato mode! All in all, a perfect day for a perfect dog.
To celebrate his birthday, here are seven of my favourite photos that capture his unique style of being
Here Munch can be seen smiling away in bliss as he settles down for a nap. He is the happiest when he is spreading his love strewn hair in every place it is not meant to be. Clean bedding and recently hoovered sofas are his favourite place to settle down for an afternoon snooze.
With his Lord and Master standing above us mere souls, I am are reminded that the poodle part of him will always demand superiority. I, a mere maid, needs to remember her placing in our partnership as I attend to whatever he needs.
My best meditation buddy is never far from my side. The blessing of living with a Guide Dog is that we are always together day and night and he never has to be left alone. My hobbies by default become his hobbies. My friends become his friends. There is no longer a “me” but always a “we”.
My bilingual hairy bear understands both Welsh and English commands with ease. Over the last five years being with me working in Welsh schools, he has picked up the lingo very well and has a speciality in understanding food in Welsh. Strange that!
Our little Minster Munch is rather partial to a bit of drama. Not one to stiffle his frustration with putting up with me, he owns his sighs with pride allowing them to flow fluidly throughout the day. The master of eye rolls, Munch is far from shy in showing his disapproval with his dancing eye muscles.
Munch has been mistaken for a lot in his last seven years of life. From an Irish Wolfhound to a Shetland pony, many have been understandable. With the paw prints the size of a yeti’s and the resemblance of the Loch Ness Monster whilst swimming, he loves to keep people guessing what he actually is.
Being chosen to take part in the 12 Guide Dogs of Christmas has to be one of his highlights of his seven years of life. Showing the public his unconventional Guide Dog look will hopefully go along way in helping the charity to raise enough money to fund 12 New Guide Dogs. To find out more please visit.
Going to counselling for the very first time can create a mixture of feelings. From nervousness to relief, most people will feel something about what lies behind the counselling door. Most people however, will not expect to be sniffed and may be a little perplexed when they are met with a friendly dog who has no personal space boundaries and happily sniffs them to analyse their whole entire life.
Munch’s initial sniff of approval will first tell him if of course they are “one of his people”. If said person enters the room with a hint of Suzi the Schnauzer scent on them, he knows they will be best friends forever. Anyone who loves dogs in his eyes, is a trustworthy person. To be fair, he accepts cat people too but may not go and get his toy to offer them a game of fetch as he knows that feline friendliness operates on a totally different level.
A quick sniff of their bag, will determine whether there is a chance they can bond over the love of food. The beauty of working in schools means that lots of young people carry food with them and therefore the cupboard love will begin from the first nostril full of beef crisps. In all honestly, he is a little more partial to the meat eater clients taste palate as he gets far too bored with his maid’s vegan one. Chicken will always be preferred over cucumber. He has tried to convince her to bring a far more exciting lunch to work each day but she stubbornly refuses. Sigh, you just can’t get the staff these days.
The mud lovers in life also come top in his favourite type of people as they are seen as the fun ones who would play with him outdoors. A sniff of a sweaty sports kits tells him that these are good friends to go on free runs with. They may not want to chase squirrels up trees with him but at least they would be more energetic than his maid he is stuck with. Despite the fact they are there for counselling, he will have ideas in his head that they have come to pick him up for a play date.
When tears begin to fall from their eyes, he is the first one there to catch them as they fall. He gives his doggy kisses to shaking hands and a gentle paw in their hand to know they are not alone. He smells unhappiness and won’t leave their side until they want him to as he snuggles in beside them. He sniffs cut knees through their trousers and unless stopped will try to lick them until they heal. He sniffs out emotions along with everything else , to tell him what is really going on with the clients.
He may not be a trained therapy dog but he is therapeutically active in each session. Guide Dogs chose him to become a Guide Dog due to his loving and clever temperament which has in turn given him the opportunity to meet people who need him in their lives. This friendly scruffy face they meet each week, always accepts them and has been there for them since they received his sniff of approval. Luckily they are all pre warned that there is a dog in the room before they come , to give them the option of having a dog free counsellor if they wish.
The sniff test is not part of the assessment for counselling don’t worry. The patient clients who choose to work with an over friendly dog who is best friends with everyone, are so lovely. They allow him to be Munchlike in the room and still accept him just the same. The sniff of approval does go a little unbalanced however when he gets a little over excited and let’s out a rather noxious anal exhale and fills the room with green smog. The clients are so brave to come back into the room a week after such events but they do.
Dogs always know far more about a person upon meeting them then other humans ever will.
Looking to start a new fitness regime or enhance the one you are current following? Look no further than Munch, the hairy Personal Trainer. Here is a testimonial from one of his previous clients.
” I started working out with Munch around 5 years ago and since then I have never been the same. My fitness regime had become a little stale so I thought I would take the lead from an expert squirrel chaser, ball retriever, Doglympian swimmer and earth moving sprinter. My experience with him has been a little…… interesting.
We began with some routines at the gym as he could enter any gym wearing his Guide Dog Harness (his part time job on the side). I began on the bike and he avoided chasing the non existent wheels which was a positive. His appalled expression on his face at my attempt on the cross trainer shamed me into working more on my form and his sighs motivated me to splutter on to carry on as his eye rolls told me I shouldn’t really have been such a sticky mess only 2 minutes in.
It was the classes however that he helped me the most. One of his favourite ones was the kettlebell class. As the instructor blew his whistle to tell us it was time to switch exercises, he would shoot up to attention next to me from his laying down position which meant I had to take a few extra steps to go over to settle him back down. In yoga , he drew attention to himself by showing everyone how a Downward Facing Dog was REALLY done. It was only boxfit however that he didn’t want me to partake in. Each time I would punch a pad or boxing bag in front of me, he would try and stop me with a bark and a paw. He is a lover not a fighter. Admittedly, I decided to go to the classes from then on with my white cane instead of Munch to avoid upsetting him. Sorry Munch only now you are finding out where I used to sneak too on a Friday night whilst I left you with a babysitter.
Due to constant knee injuries and the sight I have left deteriorating, I gave up the gym and began working out at home. After a successful knee operation 2 years ago and slowely building up a home gym, my workouts now are done at home. The bonus of this is that as I have a live in hairy PT who can slump out of bed and straight onto the floor to help me, my PT is never far way. Well, I say bonus but it may not always feel like this. Munch can sometimes be a little ……distracting in the home environment.
When I am on the exercise bike he runs off to the garden to get one of his toys for me to throw for him. When I am on the boxing bag he jumps up to lick me all over to prevent me hurting the bag. He runs off with my skipping rope although this may be his way to help me practice my sprints. As soon as I get my mat out for yoga he lays either on part or all of it but thinking of it, maybe it is his way of helping me develop a more contortionist approach to yoga. Bless him.
If you are looking for an alternative PT for your exercise regime, look no further. His unique approach has done wonders for my negotiating techniques, patience levels and all around resilience although maybe not so much for my fitness but surely a more holistic approach to exercise is okay”,
Munch’s going rate for his expertise is a) a handful of treats, the bigger the better b) a fun off lead run c) a swim in the sea or lake d) a full body and ego massage. What are you waiting for? Book today.
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!
There are certain dates of our life events that will forever stick in our minds. We will always remember what we were doing, who we were with, what we were wearing or a certain heightened sense that lays dormant in our memory when a key moment in time happened. For me, when I have just finished playing peek-a-boo (which I don’t do enough of) wearing a dress covered in yoghurt and Wotsit crisp crumbs curtesy of my gorgeous granddaughter, in the house full of my noisy family chattering away loudly, I remember the time the phone rang. Here was the change that I had been dreading and eagerly awaiting in equal measures. Guide Dogs had matched a suitable dog for me and wanted to arrange to meet up. Seventeen months of waiting was over. My “unusual” guide dog was ready to change my life forever.
I still remember that uneasy feeling in my stomach after putting the phone down. We had arranged to meet sweet Minster a few days later but I was unsure if I was ready to let the world know that I had a sight problem. When you keep the severity of your disability hidden away from loved ones for so long, the reaction from others is always a fear. What if they do not believe you? Worse still, what if they pity you? What if I did not connect with the dog? What if the dog did not like me? All these fears were just imagined problems that never cropped up anywhere in life, only in my head. The truth was, life was going to change forever, but in the most positively magical way possible.
When Minster (or Munch as he has become affectionately known as) came bounding through the door on November 17th, 2016, he had decided that this partnership was going to work. He would be the boss from day 1 (apart for in Angus the cat’s world, where Angus remains King) and our training together would go fine. He would make himself at home on whichever soft furniture took his fancy (shhh, don’t tell his trainers), he would command affection by the Royal wave of his paw, create hilarious drama at every opportunity and project his adorable personality to loved ones and strangers alike. He was here to stay and be the neon sign to the hidden disability that I had kept to myself for 38 years. Subtlety has never been his strong point, but authenticity has.
This 100mph couch-potato is the gift that keeps on giving. Giving me immense independence to carry on working and living a full life, seems just a tiny part of this gift. The partnership we have developed has allowed us to go places I would never have gone alone. He enabled me to win Bronze for Wales in VI Bowls, which was only possible after he gave me the confidence to admit that I had a VI in the first place. His extroverted charm enabled us to meet people who I never would have met without this secret weapon to everyone’s soul. He helped me write an award-winning book that would never have been written had my disability remained hidden. To sum up what mind-blowing ways Guide Dogs help their owners (or their maids like in our relationship), is not an easy task but what I would say is this. They are portals into lives that we never would have lived without them.
4 years on and Munch still bounds though life in his puppy like ways, causing mischief and mayhem wherever he goes. Whilst on harness however, he is the perfect poster boy for Guide Dogs, taking his work life serious as he sashays with pride in harness. He has prevented my previous frequent falls and injuries, stayed by my side in hospital after surgery and healed many a broken heart in work and not once has he stopped being a natural born healer. The beauty in his sweet nature is that his loyalty belongs to whoever needs it at that moment in time. It seems that his Guide Dog duties are just one of his life purposes as he glides through life being of services whatever way he can. He is the best teacher that anyone can be blessed to live with in everyday life.
So, thank you Munch for deciding that our partnership would work from day one. You have given so much to me, family, friends, our clients, and strangers alike by never being anything but unconditional love. We still have a few years left of a working partnership and I promise when you do retire you will be even more spoilt than you are today. The doggy kisses and love that you dish out freely will return to you in abundance as your Karmic bank account grows day by day. I promise to up my daily worshipping rituals to you each day and keep telling the world about the superpowers of you and your hero Guide Dog colleagues. Thank you for the eternal gift of being you.
Entering Ecstasy can only happen here, in the waves, as I become one with nature. Riding the waves on my newly waxed board, I glide along in sync with the flow of the waves. Surfing is my heaven on earth. My blissful bubble is burst when I spot something coming towards me in the water. What…. is it….? Is that a fin popping out of the water? Hang on, what has just emerged from under the surface? Is that…a baby whale? At the end of the lengthy neck is it Loch Ness himself? Here? In Wales? No hang on, is that a bark? Oh no, it’s a dog.
I hear voices on the shore line calling this dog back, but he is swimming straight for me at a rapid pace. I hope he is friendly. He is big, and his bark sounds so loud. Oh God, here he comes barking ten to the dozen. “Hi, you” I offer gently to get him on my good side. He begins to circle me barking away although now I know it is a friendly bark which wants to play. His doggy kisses he plants on me tells me that he is a big softy. He swims away and back again, wanting me to engage in a game of chase which I politely decline.
As the three voices on the shoreline get more and more frantic as they call him, he becomes more adamant that he was going to stay here with me, swimming alongside me in the sea. As I see two of his owners coming into the sea fully clothed to get him, I thought he would go but he decided to instead try and jump on my surf board to surf into the sunset. No chance is he getting on my prized possession especially since his name is Munch apparently. If he bit this, it would resemble a small shark bite. He continues to give his owners the run around but, in the end he finally goes back on the sand.
After having a brief chat with the owners who have apologized a gazillion times, I see the little mischief maker trot off to go and make friends with a group of children who are near and cooing over him. The coos soon turn into cries of disappointment as he tramples over their sand castles with his yeti like paws as he greets them lovingly. The owners turn on their heels to make apologize for clumsy Munch for the second time in as many minutes. I was right when I told the owners he was just being a free spirit and loving life to the maximum
As I hear stern words being spoken to Munch, I turn my back on the little mischief maker and secretly chuckle away at him. As I surf off into the sea, I smile knowingly that us free spirits can never be tamed. When the joy of life takes you over, you just want to share it with everyone around. Free spirits like us find it hard to be imprisoned in the dullness of everyday life so we need to let off steam. I think the owners have their hands full with Munch but at least he won’t go anywhere unnoticed. You can never unsee the trail of a free spirit.