February 08, 2020:
I am Spencer the guide dog and during my two or three walks a day with David, people regularly stop us to say hello and ask me questions. My answers are generally communicated by a furious wagging of the tail, but I thought it maybe helpful if we conduct a Questions and Answers session to try and cover the many topics brought up in conversation. David wanted Jeremy Paxman to conduct the interview, but unfortunately the budget would only extend to Cliffe, David’s friend and running partner!
Cliffe: So Spencer, thank you for staying awake long enough to answer some questions.
Spencer: I am only doing it because you said there was a treat at the end of it!
Cliffe: Well let’s start on the treat question then. What are your favourites?
Spencer: I really enjoy an occasional carrot, David says they are good for me, whatever!
Cliffe: What are your main meals like?
Spencer: Fantastic. I have two meals a day, breakfast and dinner, usually enjoying chicken and carrot kibble. I don’t do lunch.
Cliffe: When you are out for a walk with David, what are the most common questions people ask you?
Spencer: The kids ask me if I bite and also if they can stroke me. Of course I am trained not to bite and they can pet me with David’s permission. I do like that. They also ask what breed I am and I tell them, I’m a cross between a Black Labrador and a Flat Coat Golden Retriever.
Cliffe: So, when you are working, how do you help David across a busy road?
Spencer: Well this is the cool bit. David will ask me to find the push button at a traffic light crossing and when it is safe to cross he asks me to move forward. However, I have been trained not to cross the road if a vehicle is coming. I will sit down and await the next instruction.
Cliffe: Wow that is great, are you allowed in supermarkets? I know my little dog Lady isn’t.
Spencer: Yes I am allowed in and regularly take David to the shops at Castle Point. He usually asks staff to help him find the goods he wants and then they give me loads of attention. I like shopping. I am permitted pretty much everywhere that the general public go. The exception being wildlife parks where the sight of me can startle the animals a little.
Cliffe: Are you allowed to use escalators?
Spencer: No I don’t use escalators and therefore we look for a lift or take the stairs. I think its hilarious when guiding David to a lift button, he accidentally presses the alarm by mistake. He usually asks for assistance from the store guys now.
Cliffe: I understand that you are permitted to use taxis?
Spencer: Yes, I am quite well known by cabbies around Bournemouth and they are very helpful. I am not sure they are overly enthused when I only tip them with a couple of pieces of kibble!
Cliffe: One last question, David is a runner, are you allowed to run with him?
Spencer: No I cannot run with David, he has Cliffe for that. Can I have my treat now?
Cliffe: Yep! Carrot on the way…
There are lots of kind adults that take care of me while David and Cliffe are running