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Retired guide dog as a pet?

(8 Posts)
YouWillBeDeleted Thu 10-Jul-08 14:41:51

We are thinking about getting a dog and are considering a retired guide dog. We have 2 boys (6 & 4) so would obviously want a dog that would be good with children, ideally it would be house trained so not a pup and i think guide dogs would be quite independent? Anyone on have any thoughts or experience? Or any thoughts on alternatives if you don't think its a good idea? off to do the school run now but will check back later. Thanks.

Alambil Thu 10-Jul-08 14:47:49

Well, they'll be used to working all day, every day so may well get bored easily...?

The breeds chosen are usually family friendly though and may be worth looking in to

RubyRioja Thu 10-Jul-08 14:48:55

Maybe you could train it to do the ironing to stop it getting bored. Ask Wannabe for tips grin

Izzybel Thu 10-Jul-08 14:54:38

I think it would be a good idea as they will be used to being around people, will have been properly trained and are obviously intelligent dogs as they wouldn't be used as guide dogs.

I think you would probably have to be prepared to give lots of walks, though to ensure that they don't get bored. Good luck!

Wished I could train my dog to do the ironing...and the cooking...and the cleaning...

YouWillBeDeleted Thu 10-Jul-08 23:08:53

I think the more intelligent a dog the more attention it needs? Another thing to consider is that guide dogs retire at 7, does anyone know when a dogs health starts to fail? I was reading that guide dogs have a specific routine and will get upset if its not followed, i'm not sure if i could work that in especially as i want to start back at work in september. I'd love to give a loving home to a dog that has worked so hard to help others but don't want to take on a dog and not be able to make it happy

TheFallenMadonna Thu 10-Jul-08 23:10:20

I read on MN today the guide dogs can poo on demand. Which is a plus I reckon...

Alambil Fri 11-Jul-08 12:14:27

I've spoken to my mum about this thread - she's a dog trainer and behaviourist...

She says that if the dogs get their recommended amount of exersize they'll adapt really well

An hour or two most days will be plenty - don't get a dog used to going out every day at the same time; it's good to have a slightly adaptable dog incase somethng happens one day and you can't go out!

Dogs change to a new routine easily; it takes about 15 weeks for a dog to settle to a new routine, but it is possible.

Also, my mum's dog is 7 and is in perfect health (after a near deadly illness 3 yrs ago) - if you keep a dog at it's ideal weight; easy to do with dog bran if they need to lose a few kilos! then they should be fine, but insurance is a must - just incase.

wannaBe Fri 11-Jul-08 12:41:02

not sure where you heard that guide dogs retire at 7 but that is utter rubbish.

My retired guide dog was 11 when she retired and was still working well at the time. (she's 13 now).

Obviously there comes a point in every guide dog's life when retirement needs to be considered (the aim is to retire the dog while it is still working reasonably well, and the idea is to find a replacement dog before the current one has to be retired so that the owner is not without a guide dog for any period of time).

The age at which guide dogs retire depends on a variety of things. Where the dog works/how the dog's health is etc. Dogs that work in central london for instance retire much earlier than dogs who work in little villages, because their work is so much more stressful. (navigating through busy crowds/the underground/heavy traffic etc compared to strolling down quiet streets.).

Generally by the time guide dogs retire (as long as they haven't been retired early due to health or behavioral issues) they are ready to retire, and don't need the constant exercise that a young newly trained dog needs. My retired dog is 13 now and tbh age is starting to show. She loves to go for walks still but is happy just to go for a quick walk around the block and along the cycle path and back. She certainly can't keep up with my 4 yo working dog who could run for miles and miles. In fact we have recently had to take the decision not to take her with us when we visit ILs who live by the sea because although she loves to run on the beach she just can't any more and it's not really fair on her to take her and not let her on the beach (last time she ran and could bearly get up that night).

As a rule guide dogs are well behaved, well trained and they make fantastic pets.

But in order to be allowed to take on a retired dog you will have to be vetted by the association. If you and your dh work full-time you will not be allowed to take on a retired guide dog as they are not used to being left for long periods of time (they have been everywhere with their owner for the past 8 or so years). Obviously they can be left for periods just not all day.

Also someone from the association will visit periodically (about once a year) to check up on the health and wellbeing of the dog.

Also if you get a dog who has retired at the end of his working life as opposed to one who has maybe been retired due to behavioral issues you need to bear in mind that it will be an older dog, even if it's a dog who has been retired at age 8 after working in London, and will most likely only live for a few years (3-4 at most). My dog has been retired for 2 years now and although she's reasonably healthy I am well aware that she probably won't be with us all that much longer as she is visibly gettng old now.

And getting a retired dog isn't just a case of going down to the association and getting one, there is a waiting list. Until a few years ago dogs who were rejected in training were rehomed to people on the waiting list, but now a log of those dogs go on to work for dogs for the disabled or the drug squad so there are far less younger rejects than there were previously. Now it's mostly dogs who have retired whose owners are unable to keep them, or dogs who have retired younger due to issues that mean they can't be a guide dog, and again whose owners are unable to keep them.

If you know someone with a guide dog then you can express an interest in taking it on when it retires if the owner is not going to keep it, and the owner can make that decision to rehome the dog to you as long as GDBA approve you.

hth

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