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Saturday, 3 March 2018

Wow! Liggy has rendered me silent!

I've only just realised, it's over two months since I last posted. I really thought that I'd be on here more frequently, posting updates of Liggy's antics, but in reality, I've forgotten about this because I've been so taken up with my new friend. So, now seems a good time to share what life is like with my new Canine Partner.

At home

I'm an early-bird. I usually wake naturally between half past five and six o' clock in the morning and I'm full of the joys of spring. Okay, my body takes a little while to kick in but in my head, I'm ready for action. Until recently, I've been alone in this. Neil and the boys like their sleep, so I have to get up quickly and quietly so as not to disturb them. Now... now I get a morning greeting that is simply wonderful! The second I wake up, Liggy is off her bed and at my side, tail wagging ten to the dozen.

In spite of her enthusiastic 'good morning', as soon as we come downstairs, she goes back to sleep for an hour or so while I eat and consume vast quantities of coffee. She comes into her own, when I go up to get showered and dressed. She knows the routine now... I sit on my bed and she sits in front of me. I offer her a sleeve, a trouser leg, a sock... and she tugs gently until it comes off. If it's something small like a sock, she brings it back to me and puts it in my hand. I have to say, I hadn't thought about a dog helping me undress but it has been really helpful and takes the pressure of my lower back.

In the evening, after work, Liggy absolutely loves coming home, especially if Neil is home before us. She leaps around and dances round in circles like a mad dog. She has a thing about carrying a soft toy when she is happy or excited, so she runs in, grabs the nearest teddy or soft ball and parades it around with utter pride. Recently, she has taken to emptying her toy box and having a very quick play with each toy before leaving them all scattered around the house. Later, we have a game where she picks them up, one by one, and puts them back in her toy box. Hopefully, this game of putting things in a receptacle will eventually extend to the washing machine and tumble dryer.

When I go upstairs, I usually use my stair lift. It took some practice to get Liggy to wait at the top or bottom while I travel and then come and join me, but now she does it automatically. Even better, I've taught her to lift the footplate up, out of the way, when I've finished with it.

Work

I remember when Cat, Liggy's trainer, first rang me, she said that Liggy would be a good match because she is clever and active and loves doing tasks, but she will also settle really quickly and sleep while I'm in meetings. Well, she was spot-on! Mostly, Liggy is off-lead at work. She is free to potter around the offices and do what she wants. In reality, she chooses to lie on her bed in my office until I drop something and then she is up in a second and picks up whatever I dropped and gives it back to me.

Some of my colleagues wanted a way of interacting with Liggy, so I bought her a little bag, small enough to carry bits and pieces around. Every now and then, someone will call out, "Send the bag!" I give Liggy the bag and tell her who to take it to. They help out by calling her name. Then she returns it to me with something in it. She clearly thinks this is a great game, as she then stares me out until I restock the bag and send her off with it again, tail wagging away.

Out and about

Okay, so nobody is perfect and as they told us at Canine Partners, she is a dog, not a robot. She has a personality and some quirky behaviour. Generally, she is great to take out with me. In restaurants and shops, she is as good as gold! She walks nicely, lies quietly, helps me take my coat off and picks up anything I drop, even my crutches!

Her Achilles Heel is wind! When it's windy, she finds it difficult to focus on anything except how exciting leaves and sweet wrappers are when they blow. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a big problem for me, as I wouldn't choose to spend long battling windy weather anyway but it's something we are working on with her.

This week, she has also had her first proper experience of snow. At first, she wasn't very keen and just kept sniffing at it with a suspicious look on her face. By Wednesday though, she was playing on the field at work with a colleague and me and she was loving it! I kept throwing her ball and she ran and then skidded and rolled around in the snow to get it. Then we substituted snowballs instead of her rubber ball. This was hilarious! I threw a snowball and she caught it - she's getting good at catching - but then it melted in her mouth before she could give it back to me. She was completely baffled by the mystery of the disappearing balls!


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