Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Doggy tales

I have been a volunteer for the Cinnamon Trust on and off for the last few years. The Cinnamon Trust is a group that help people who are elderly or infirm manage their pets.


When I signed up I had dreams of walking lively collies for jolly owners who couldn't quite manage the longer walks. In reality I soon discovered that dogs like these had plenty of offers for walks and what I got was elderly disabled dogs living with elderly and mostly lonely owners. The dogs become the most important thing in their lives and negotiating the terms and conditions for the walk is a trecherous business! Never-the-less I have had some good experiences including walking a small blind dog with heart failure that sniffed its way around the block and snorted loudly when it got out of breath! The owner would pick at a yoghurt and a glass of sherry for lunch and send me out with £10 to buy some prime steak for the dog. On another occasion I walked a very lively terrier for a very elderly lady who lived around the corner. She sadly died and I was involved in re-homing the dog to new (younger) owners in Kent. Her family suddenly appeared after she died and made a lot of fuss about how they didn't want the dog so I went to the florists and ordered a big bunch of the brightest sunflowers to send to her funeral and signed the card from the dog! I haven't done much for the Trust for a while but happened to be in when they called the other day. A local lady was temporarily incapacitated and unable to walk her hearing dog, Bambi (hearing dogs are trained to alert deaf people to sounds such as the door bell and the phone, although mostly they provide company and contact with the outside world). After a visit it soon became clear that the lady was having plenty of visits and the dog was getting plenty of walks (it had even lost weight because it was getting more exercise) but assistance was needed to take the dog to its weekly agility class as the regular helper was unable to make it every week. So, I went to my first ever dog agility class, sadly without a dog of my own. However, it was good to watch! Bambi is sadly not a young as she used to be and has poor eyesight. She can just about manage a few rounds of the low course, leaving out some of the more difficult items. Bambi will soon have to retire as a hearing dog but this will be a very difficult decision for her owner to make!

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