I have pitter pattered around the text content of this post for way too long.. To be fairly honest I’m not to sure what to say about this little guy..
My first experience with Guide dogs came growing up, with my parents raising 9 pups while I made my way through pre and primary school. South African Guide Dog Association for the blind Is where it all happens, from breeding to training of both future visually impaired owners and the dogs themselves. And that’s where the story of Askii Started.
Lets start with his name, as a lot of people ask me about it and where it came from. Basically each litter starts out life at the breeding centre where one of the SAGA staff who will be with the mother as she gives birth to her litter of pups. The litters are each designated a letter of the alphabet and all the pups will be named starting with the letter they are assigned. This works from letters A-W with Z,Y&Z being grouped together and D being kept for any “donation” litters that are brought in. (Yes they accept donated litters 🙂 this cycles continuously throughout the year. The name you choose also has to be new to the system, So any dogs that are still in training or working will not have the same name. This makes it quite a challenge to name your dog.. I had to give a few options when I first met the litter and jotted down Anchor and Askii as my first options.. I didn’t realise I had spelt it wrong in my hasty scrawl, oops! And so when I was contacted and told Askii had been accepted, it stuck. I’m sure he’s not the first or last spelling error pup in the world.
When raising a pup you have to accept the fact that they will need to be returned at about a year old. It’s easy to agree to that in the beginning, but that changes as soon as you get the little ball of fluff home. Theres quite a bit you need to do “by the book” when training a pup. And believe me, there is a book.. You teach the pup basics, commands like sit, down and of course house training, not easy in winter. Try teach a shy dog to do its business while on a lead, it aint easy! You also teach them as they grow older how to behave around children, not to “chew” on people, be well-mannered and walk on a lead.
I had to take him for puppy classes, which meant he got to socialise with brothers and sisters. As he got older it also meant he would need walking in shopping centres, up and down various stairs and also through other loud and busy places. I don’t think most people realise how much these dogs are actually exposed when they head out into the real world. As with all dogs, Askii and I had ups and downs.. He really did have a naughty streak and didn’t like being left at home alone. We disagreed a lot about how he spent that time alone..
I got the call that I had been dreading for a while and it was time for the handsome guy to go back to kennels and complete his training to be a fully fledged guide dog. I knew from when I had first started teaching him to walk on a lead that he was a champ and was meant for great things, he coped well with training and after a few months he had been matched with his future owner.
Daryn Sutton who lives in Cape Town is the man who gets to see Askii through the next stage of life, albeit Askii who will in fact see Daryn through day-to-day life for the next few years. Daryn is only partially blind, he has severe tunnel vision as well as some hearing loss so Askii was also trained to help out in an audio sense.. An all-rounder! Daryn has enough vision get a lot done and often writes about their adventures on Facebook which I get to read when I am on there. Its great, I love knowing that he has a real love for Askii and that they will look out for each other in the future.
Askii was the first dog I trained myself and I do find that he has left a solid notch in my heart. He really was the best, even though we didn’t always see eye to eye. I think its tough for everyone who has to give their dogs back, but it does seem much better when you know that they have moved on to a bigger picture.. Being able to bring so much light into a very dark world, not only as a guide but as a companion. For that, it makes all the work, walks ,cuddles, training, chewing, pooing in awkward places, love, wagging of tails and sadness when they leave worth it. I’m really going to miss the look in his handsome doggy eyes and that fluffy loose neck skin.
I hope Daryn and Askii have many awesome adventures in the cape together, hopefully one day I can visit and see if he still remembers me 🙂
We couldn’t have gotten a better dog.
Hope you enjoyed that, even though some of the pictures are awful iPhone pics! haha.