After making the difficult decision to retire my first working dog, there was no question in my mind that I wanted/needed a new guide dog. I had debated going to a different school for dog number two, but went back to Leader Dogs for the Blind, located in Rochester Michigan. I wanted a dog who would be the complete opposite as my first and that is exactly what I got.
One of the points of this blog is to chronicle my life as a guide dog user and to record memories of Glacier and I. I also want to share him and our experiences with others, if at the least, be entertaining, but also to give some other handlers comfort knowing that there is someone else going through the joys and trials of life with a guide dog by their side.
Glacier (Now retired).
-Breed: yellow labrador retriever
-Colour: technically yellow, but appears more cream/yellow
-Weight: 75 LBS
Training School: Leader Dogs for the Blind
-Birth Date: March 16, 2007
-Match Date: September 24, 2008
-Got You Home Date: October 10, 2008
-Retirement Date: August 03, 2012
-Favourite Quote: "I'll stand by you," or "Just the two of us, we can make it if we try."
-working (I become depressed if I don't get to guide Mom frequently),
-toys I can chew on (I have very powerful jaws and can destroy pretty much anything that is put in front of me. Mom has to buy special "industrial" strength toys for me. I don't mean to be so rough, I just get so excited),-
-giving people both of my front paws while I sit on my bum so I can give them kisses (it is called Gopher, according to Mom),
-playing with brother and fellow Leader Dog Roscoe
-cuddling with Mom
-learning new routes
-peanut butter filled Kongs
-long, fast walks
-mom leaving me (I don't have separation anxiety, but if she is in another room and I can hear her, I must go find her),
-people being angry (I'm just a sensitive guy).
-The Polar Bear (given to him at LDB during training because he is more white than yellow),
-Fat Head (said with love because my head is so big),
-Romeo (because I make "love" eyes at the ladies. I can't help it! I like the ladies),
-Glacy (my trainer called me this and it drove Mom nuts, but somehow she ended up using it).
Glacier and I were matched after my first dog had been retired for just over a month and a half. He was exactly what I wanted in that he was nothing like my first dog. That said, it was strange getting used to walking with a dog who not only was taller than my first dog, but weighed 25 LBS more. He was also lighter in the harness, which I did not expect since he was so big. Another surprise was that my over dramatic and strong corrections that I used with the smaller dog were not suited for this big "fat head." Glacier is very sensitive and often a verbal correction is all he needs. When leash corrections are required, the more noise I can generate with the chain collar, the better. If the correction is too aggressive and less noisy, he gets very upset and sort of shuts down. When I first got him, aggressive corrections would impact him so badly that he would stop working.
Now that we have a better understanding of each other, we work very well with each other. He is very laid back and a lot more lower energy than my first dog. He is very affectionate and loves to please me when we are working together. He is also a bit of a clown and enjoys shoplifting.
In the time that we have been together he has tried to walk out of a Body Shop with a bar of Strawberry soap and a Moon Pie from a grocery store. I am pretty sure he would have taken other objects home if I hadn't been so vigilant. The funny thing is that he doesn't eat these objects: he just wants to carry them around. Maybe he's trying to tell me something-I stink and I need to eat more.
Another funny thing about Glacier is that everyone thinks he is a girl. They call him "pretty" and comment on how "lovely she is." I don't know if it's because of his colouring, or the Newtricks accented with purple that he wears, but everywhere we go, "he" becomes a "she." I'm not sure how this mix up occurs, since Glacier has one of the biggest heads I have seen on a lab...ever! Either way, we are making our way through this crazy thing called life together and he definitely has enhanced my experience. :)
Glacier retired himself at age 5 and a half. His sensitive, sweet and goofy nature was just not cut out for guiding a totally blind person. He is now happily living with a friend who takes him to work and spoils him rotten; which he deserves. I miss him terribly, but know that he is getting the best retirement any dog, or handler, could ask for.