Here’s Dexter our sponsor for 2023 at the Guide Dogs National Breeding Centre. He is a loveable golden retriever cross who loves lots of belly rubs.
Dexter’s Journey has begun
Dexter is a great learner Dexter is a very intelligent boy. He’s made great progress on learning some of his basic skills such as ‘sit’ and ‘down’. He’s very eager to please and his tail is always wagging when we’re training! He’s mastered toileting on cue; he’s got a penned off area in the garden that he uses for toileting, and he knows not to go anywhere else. Dexter’s quite fidgety so I’m working on helping him to settle himself calmly. He’s got a hollow toy that I fill with soaked kibble to help keep him entertained and this works well.
Dexter and Dawson playing Tug
Dexter’s Making Progress
Out and About
Since our last Pupdate, Dexter and his puppy raiser Sheelagh, have been visiting a variety of
different environments to build up a ‘bank’ of positive experiences. This will help to ensure that when he visits new places in the future, he will be calm and confident. He’s excellent at settling in a café environment. He’ll happily lie by my feet with a tasty chew – and he loves the admiring looks he gets from passers-by!
Dexter has only recently arrived at training school with his trainer Sam, so it is early days for him. However, he is already tackling many new skills. He’s a very affectionate dog and prefers rewards through strokes and cuddles over food. However, a tasty snack still goes down a treat!
Dexter is currently working on loose-lead walking in different environments.
He can get distracted by birds and dogs, but this is normal, and he is making progress. Dexter’s working on coming in and out of his pen nicely, waiting for the ‘release’ cue. He’s also practising this skill coming in and out of my van, which he is fantastic at. The change from his Puppy Raiser’s car to my van didn’t faze him at all – he takes everything in his stride!
Being comfortable with travelling is a fantastic quality for a guide or buddy dog (a companion for a child
with a vision impairment).
Dexter with his trainer Sam.
Hello, it’s Sam here, Dexter’s trainer.
Dexter is progressing well at training school. We have a great relationship, and our bond has really developed. He’s a very sweet dog and is always up for a cuddle. Usually, I train up to four dogs at once, but at the moment Dexter is the only one, so we spend a lot of time together. He loves to bond with the people around him as he’s such an affectionate dog.
Watch Dexter’s latest video!
Dexter was doing well with his previous trainer, Sam, but as he needed a little extra time to learn new skills, we decided it would be best for him to come and train with me, Lucy as I can give him the extra time and support, he needs.
He’s a great dog and has such a calming presence; he’s also very friendly with the other dogs I train. You can tell he enjoys training games such as the bucket game; his whole body wiggles when he wags his tail!
To help build up Dexter’s confidence, I revisited all the skills he’d learnt with Sam, such as platforms and locating objects. I also practised his recall, which is great. We did a lot of work together, but I noticed he is facing some challenges while training; he struggles to keep the right guiding speed and to approach platforms. He prefers to have brief walks and slows down during longer ones, eventually stopping. This suggests he isn’t enjoying training or that his health isn’t quite right. After many discussions with my manager and Dexter’s vet, we decided to pause his training to do some medical checks to ensure he’s happy and healthy.
In October, we sent you Dexter’s fifth Pupdate, but since then, there have been some further changes to his journey, so we’d like to update you on his latest news. Since your last Pupdate, Dexter has rested while we waited for health check results, and thankfully, he was given the all-clear. However, Dexter remained inconsistent when guiding, often changing speed and stopping for no reason. It was clear he wasn’t enjoying training, and because of this, we decided to take Dexter out of the training programme.
Although we have a world-class breeding and training programme, not every pup will be suited to becoming a guide dog or buddy dog. Occasionally, puppies need to be taken out of training for their best interests and those of any potential future owners.
We’re sad to share this news, but we hope you understand that Dexter’s wellbeing is our number one priority. Dexter’s currently living with his wonderful Fosterers, Danielle and David, while the rehoming team checks applications for his forever home. We often receive kind offers from supporters to rehome our dogs, but unfortunately, this isn’t possible outside of our rehoming process. You can learn more about this process by visiting guidedogs.org.uk/newhome.
The great news is your Sponsor a Puppy journey will continue with another pup – Rupert!