Our association with Guide Dogs goes back to 2005 when we puppy walked Zeb. He arrived at 8 weeks old and was big, boisterous and his tail was like a flag pole. Like all puppies he had very sharp baby teeth but we instantly fell in love with him.
As puppy walkers we trained him in all the normal sit, stay & down commands. He was even trained to go outside to do is business on command. As a guide dog puppy in training he wasn’t allowed balls or squeaky toys, and wasn’t allowed to give you a paw or to sit at the kerb. He always walked on the left hand side and just in front of you when out for a walk.
He had to experience as much as he could whilst in training so he went shopping with us to Asda. This was a nightmare as being a Labrador, you had to spot the dropped sweets and fruit on the floor before he did! The pet shop was an even bigger challenge as he always managed to grab himself a new toy on the way past the toy shelf. He went on trains, buses, the tram, and loved going into our local pub when we went out for a meal. Our local community centre was always a challenge. Zeb used to sit under the table whilst I was on the door at the monthly dance and then when we moved he loved the attention from all the dancers.
Zeb left us a week before his first birthday where he went up to Forfar for his next lot of training. I have to admit it was heartbreaking watching him go but we knew he would make a fantastic Guide Dog and he would be a great service dog for the right person.
Four weeks into his training, we got a call to say Zeb wasn’t going to make the grade. He had separation syndrome, a nervous breakdown and wouldn’t eat so they advised he needed to come home to his family. Zeb retired at the grand old age of 1 and 3 weeks! Although we were disappointed he didn’t complete his training, I have to admit I was so pleased and ecstatic that he was coming back to us and we had the chance to give him is forever home.
Once home Zeb was a different dog, still the cheeky boisterous boy we had grown to love over the year, but now he didn’t like being left on his own. When he went out for a “busy”, if you moved and he couldn’t see you he would be straight indoors. He needed to be with us, I’m guessing so he felt safe and that we weren’t leaving him again.
We had over 12 wonderful years with Zeb. He was soft, gentle, intelligent and a typical lazy labrador. Once he was in front of the fire there was no shifting him. We lost him on the 22nd October 2017, never to be replaced and he left a huge labrador shaped hole in our hearts.
Zeb is the reason why we are fundraising for Guide Dogs For The Blind. He gave us so much pleasure and if we can raise £2,500 to name and sponsor a guide dog puppy through its first year of training then it’s our way of giving something back in memory of Zeb.