7 years, 5 months and 6 days

Even from the first day of being a guide dog handler, even during training, you are highly aware that your new four legged companion who will be your eyes whilst out and about will someday hang up their harness. Seven years, five months and six days ago, I knew this fact to when I signed the contract and made mine and Bailey’s partnership official.

Everyone tells you that you’ll know when your dog is ready to retire. You ask how? You are just told, believe me, you’ll know.

Anyone who’s followed mine and Bailey’s tale knows that I was so upset last March thinking the time had come. As it turned out, Bailey was suffering with what we now believe was a virus but was back working happily and even travelled to London twice with me last year.

He continued to work fairly well, with slight noticeable slowing which is common in older dogs. For the majority of the time it was easy enough to cope with but the past few weeks, it’s become more and more evident that Bailey’s simply had enough of guiding. He’d rather be toddling along on his lead and chilling or playing.

I called Guide Dogs on Monday and my GDMI came today to chat about it. She asked several questions but I was relieved to hear her say I think we should look at retiring now. Semi retirement is usually an option but even short routes with Bailey have been so hard.

It’s been heartbreaking to watch that crazy pup that came to live with us seven years ago, always willing and happy to work, become listless and so unsure in his harness.

So today, 22/08/2013, my Bailey Bop hung up his harness and is looking forward to a life of walks, runs, playing and relaxing.

After all you have given me bailey bop, all I can do is ensure you will have the best retirement any hard working dog could ever wish for!

Seven years ago you bounced into my heart and there you shall ever remain with much love. I am just so happy he’s staying with us and continuing to be a fully fledged member of the Howarth household.

Thanks bailey for the laughs, the tears, the fun, the happiness and most of all my independence. Without you, I’d not be as sure I can handle the next however long with the cane. You’ve gave me that ability to believe in myself and no human has ever achieved that so Bailey, that makes you so much more special. I’ll forever be grateful to the love, care, confidence, laughter you have given me and am looking forward to your golden years spent as my retired pup.

The working years are over but the fun hasn’t stopped.

I love you Bailey. And thank you so much to Guide Dogs for making it possible for me to keep this wondrous dog and look forward to another working partnership with another guide.

I’ll be honest, a few tears have been shed, and a few more probably will to but it’s a close of one chapter and that’s always sad. I’m just happy we did this now and not put him through the stress of working any longer. He wasn’t enjoying his work and he always had done before so the right decision, no matter how hard, at the right time. Thank you to the GDMI who fully supported all of my decisions today. It was made an easier process as we were both on the same page about my puppy.

You rock Bailey! Put those hard working paws up and relax. 🙂

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