Christmas is an exciting time of year – but it’s also one of the most busy and hectic. To give you a snapshot of what life is like for Guide Dogs and their owners during the festive period, we talked to Sarahjane about her German Shepherd bitch Tessa.
A two German Shepherd household – but Sarahjane is top dog
Sarahjane’s working dog is Tessa, a 3-and-a-half-year-old German Shepherd. Tessa has been Sarahjane’s guide dog for 2 years.
Before that Ginny was Sarahjane’s working dog for 4 years. Ginny is now 8 and lives with Sarahjane as a retired pet dog.
We asked Sarahjane if she had any difficulties introducing Tessa to the house with Ginny already living there.
“There was a little bit of jealousy at first,” Sarahjane said. “German Shepherd’s are very singular dogs – they tend to be very attached to their owners. While Tessa only has eyes for me, Ginny has now latched on to my partner. That said, she still looks to me for the last word so I guess I’m still top dog in the house!”
The challenges of Christmas
We asked Sarahjane if she felt that Christmas was a particularly difficult time for guide dogs.
“I’m both a volunteer with Guide Dogs and a Landlady of a pub – pubs are much busier around the Christmas period, so that is more challenging for the dogs in general.
There’s generally more clutter around, with decorations and a-boards out to advertise Christmas sales and so on. There’s also more children around, who I’ve sometimes heard mistake my German Shepherd for a reindeer!
All this means journeys can take a little longer, but thankfully German Shepherds like to have lots to do – all these extra obstacles just mean that Tessa uses her intelligence even more.”
How the owner can help
“As an owner, you’ve got to be more mindful around Christmas. That’s especially true for me in the pub,” Sarahjane said.
“Before I let the dogs out into the bar, I have to do a sweep to make sure there’s no nuts and nibbles lying around. You’ve got to be careful they don’t end up eating something that’s bad for them!”
At ROYAL CANIN® we’re well aware of the challenges that can come with the change in routine at Christmas time – a sentiment echoed in our conversations with Sarahjane.
“New can be fascinating for a dog. If you’re someone who does presents under the tree for example, that can be very tempting – so you’ve just got to consider things like that this time of year.”
The gift of a Guide Dog
Dogs like Tessa need your support to keep helping people like Sarahjane. This Christmas, we’d encourage you to give the gift of a Guide Dog Sponsorship.
Visit our Christmas Hub to find out more about how you can sponsor a Guide Dog puppy.