Hello… it’s Heath here, your amazing super playful puppy! I’ve been having such fun with Matt and Emma that I can’t believe it’s been three months since I last wrote to you. We’ve been doing lots of training (and playing) because it’s almost time for me to go off to big school! Ruth calls this ‘Advanced Training’, because I get to develop the basic skills I’ve learnt as a puppy into more advanced tasks so that I can help the person I’m eventually partnered with. How exciting is that? Apparently I’m going to be able to do all sorts of incredible things like help them get undressed, press buttons, and even pick things off of shelves in the supermarket – I hope they like sausages as much as me! I am going to miss Matt and Emma, but I know I’ve got a very important job to do. All aboard… Matt says that my future partner might rely on public transport to get around, so we’ve been practising how to behave on buses and trains. I think I like trains more because they’re speedy – I doze off in one place and wake up in another and it feels like no time at all! I have to wait nicely before getting on, and Matt tells me to ‘sit’. I can’t go rushing on as the person I’m matched with might need a little extra time to get on, so I’ve got to wait until I’m told. I don’t mind though, as Matt always gives me a piece of kibble – delicious! When we find a seat, I know to settle down and lie near Matt’s feet. There are always lots of people who want to say hello to me but I know that I’ve got to stay close to the person I’m with because they might need me. The movement of the vehicle is always really soothing, though, and it’s never long before I have a little snooze! Time for a break… Emma’s favourite place to go, especially after a long walk, is a cosy little café near where we live. It’s a funny place, because pet dogs are allowed in there too, not just clever assistance dogs-in-training like me. I do enjoy making new friends though, and I really like it when there are small people about because they drop lots of food! I know I’m not meant to hoover it up – after all it might be something that will give me an upset stomach – but sometimes I can’t resist! Must be the Labrador in me. Emma usually tells me to ‘leave it’ and distracts me with a toy. The small humans also give the best pats and cuddles, so when Emma says it’s okay to say hello I get made a big fuss over, which is super fun! I hope that I get to go to lots of cafés when I’m a fully-fledged assistance dog, especially ones with other doggies about! Play while you learn… My absolute favourite game to play is tug with my purple rope toy. Ruth says it’s a very important skill that I need to learn, but I’m just having a good time playing! She holds the rope toy, says ‘tug tug’ and then I just pull it backwards with my teeth. Apparently when I go to big school I’ll use tug tug to open doors, drawers, and even help to take shoes off. Sounds like the best job ever because I get to help someone and have fun! I’m really excited to go off to big school, because I get to learn lots of new games and skills, and it will all help the person I’m partnered with. I’ll miss writing to you, but I’ve got a very important job to do! Anyway, I must rush as I can hear Matt pouring food into my bowl, so it’s time for dinner! Lots of love, Your amazing puppy, Heath
Heath is an 11-month old Labrador x Golden Retriever at Canine Partners. He's sponsored by the Explore by Paw dog walking groups and has been growing up and learning puppy skills from his puppy parents Matt and Emma. Heath is now moving forward to start his training to become an assistance dog through Canine Partners.
Canine Partners is a UK charity transforming the lives of people living with disabilities by training amazing assistance dogs. Find out more about Canine Partners by visiting their website caninepartners.org.uk.
The Explore by Paw dog walking groups are organised through MeetUp and walk in all weathers. Your dog can get just as muddy as the pictured dog above!