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Sparky's Seventh Birthday

By Harriet Smith

To celebrate my guide dog Sparky's 7th birthday, I thought I'd put him in the spotlight and write a special blog post all about him and how much he has changed my life since he came to live with me. I can't believe that this summer I will have had Sparky for five years. It took two years of extremely hard work for me to become matched with him, so I was overjoyed when it finally happened and I officially qualified with him at the end of August 2017. Sparky has made such a positive impact on my life in so many ways: from his friendly and excitable personality to his more mellow moments when I enjoy snuggling up for a hug with him at the end of a long day. I love doing this because it's like cuddling a big live teddy bear!

Another aspect of looking after Sparky that I really enjoy is grooming him. I do this daily whatever the weather. I use a brush called a Zoom Groom which is made of rubber and he loves it because it's like having a long massage every day. When I'm grooming him I talk to him and tell him what is planned for that day. After I've brushed him, I wipe him down with a damp chamois cloth which gets rid of any loose hair and also gives his coat a glossy sheen. This is his favourite part because he sometimes tries to lick the cloth!

Having Sparky by my side has also increased my confidence and I have found that more people talk to me now, for instance when I'm waiting in a queue at the supermarket. This is something that didn't happen as much before I had him. Personally, I think there is so much more to having a guide dog than doing your regular routes, although that is important too of course. He is great company when I am on my own, a wonderful companion and my best friend. I couldn't imagine life without him now.

So a very happy birthday to you Sparky! Thank you for being the fun, full of life character that you are, I wouldn't change you for anything. Here's to the next year of amazing adventures!