FAF are delighted to announce that we have used the donations from our anniversary special to sponsor a Guide Dog puppy - Skye. Our money will go towards the cost of training and placement in her first two years.
You can follow updates of her progress by scrolling down the page. There is also an introduction to Skye on the Guide Dogs website (click the "Meet Skye" button below), where you can also find more information about their work, and Skye has her own page on their site - click the "Skye's Puppy Page" button.
27th August 2019
Skye is getting to grips with all the commands that puppies in training need to master. She is a patient and bright pup and so picked up the "sit" command quickly. Here’s the photographic evidence she can execute it perfectly!
24th September 2019
Skye has been looking forward to autumn as summertime can be a little tricky in such a shiny, black coat! She will continue practising travelling on various means of public transport as well as enjoying longer walks in a park.
16th October 2019
SKYE'S AUTUMN 2019 PUPDATE
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Hello, it’s Glyn here, Skye’s Puppy Walker. I am excited to update you on what she has been up to.
Skye is the third puppy I’ve raised for Guide Dogs, it’s a 24/7 job but it’s the best job I’ve ever had! When my husband started to lose his sight, I wanted to get involved with Guide Dogs in the community and puppy walking seemed like the perfect way to do that. I’m so proud to be raising puppies that will make a difference to people’s lives one day.
Learning the ropes
When Skye arrived, my other puppy in training, Oscar, was still living with me. It was lovely to see him teaching Skye the ropes and they got on so well – although she soon became the boss of him!
Skye is very obedient around the house. She sleeps in her bed, is patient with food, and I’ve even taken the stairgate away as she knows she isn’t allowed upstairs.
Skye’s favourite toy is a big stuffed dog; she drags it around the house and won’t let it go! She also likes her chewy bones which are great for her teething.
I’ve been exposing Skye to lots of different sights and smells such as supermarkets and cafés. This is known as ‘socialisation’ and is helping to build her confidence – not that she needs it! She is an incredibly bold girl and not nervous about new environments or loud noises. Even the bagpipes at a county fair didn’t faze her!
I’ve also taken Skye to St Pancras station in London, and she remained calm throughout all the noise and crowded platforms. Confidence in busy environments will be vital to her success as a future guide dog.
Learning new skills
Skye has been attending puppy classes to learn basic obedience skills. She’s a bright pup and has already mastered commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’. As she loves other dogs, I was worried she would be distracted by them during class, but after she’d said hello to everyone, she was very calm and took it all in her stride. I’m so proud of her.
Skye does have a bossy streak and always likes to have my full attention so she barks when I’m on the phone or talking to someone. I will be working on improving her patience over the coming months and teaching her that although she’s gorgeous, the world can’t always revolve around her!
Thank you so much for sponsoring Skye. Look out for your next Pupdate in February.
28th January 2020
Skye has stepped into the New Year with confidence. She’s currently perfecting her loose lead walking skills with her Puppy Walker, Glyn. Skye has made incredible progress so far and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for her!
SKYE'S SPRING 2020 PUPDATE
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Skye’s been enjoying all the attention she’s getting with everyone spending time in the house together. She’s been soaking up the sun on Puppy Walker Glyn’s balcony.
Hello, it’s Glyn here, Skye’s Puppy Walker. Welcome to her second Pupdate!
Puppy walking is so important to me and I’ve learnt so much from each pup I’ve raised. I’m starting to realise that each puppy is very unique, and I love getting to know them for who they are. I’ve enjoyed watching Skye learn new skills, but I’ve also loved expanding my knowledge on dog training and behaviour too as a result.
Skye continues to grow in confidence every day. She remains unfazed by anything, which is a brilliant trait for a future guide dog as she will be able to guide her owner confidently no matter the environment around her. We recently came across a loud leaf blower and she just stopped to figure out what the noise was, and then carried on about her day.
Skye is very food motivated which makes her much easier to train but I feel like she would sell me for a dog biscuit if she had the chance! I have taught her not to eat from her bowl until I blow the whistle. This helps to build patience and encourages good food manners.
Skye enjoys learning new things and I can see her really trying to figure out what it is I’m asking of her. She has been learning to ‘find the chair’ in which she will rest her head on an empty chair. This will be an invaluable skill for her future owner as she will be able to locate an empty seat for them whilst out and about, for example at a café, a bus stop or a park bench.
Patience and focus
Skye can still be a little impatient and often interrupts my conversations because she wants some attention. It did make me laugh the other day as we were waiting to cross the road and she got impatient at the traffic lights, so she barked at them. They changed just as she barked and so now I think she feels she even rules the traffic lights!
Another challenge I’ve faced with Skye is her dog distraction. She is such a friendly and playful girl and so she can get easily distracted by any dogs around her. She has brilliant recall though and I’ve seen a big improvement over the last few months. We will continue working on improving her focus even with other puppy pals around.
Skye the fundraiser
Skye has attended many Guide Dogs fundraising events over the last few months and she’s a brilliant sidekick to take along with me. She gives me the opportunity to share what I do as a Puppy Walker and the vital work that Guide Dogs do to help those people living with sight loss.
We can’t wait to see Skye progress on her journey to become a guide dog. Look out for her next Pupdate in June!
SKYE'S SUMMER 2020 PUPDATE
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29 September 2020
Skye has grown into a beautiful and clever young lady who attracts everyone’s attention when she walks down the street. She’s always happy to demonstrate her excellent obedience skills, especially if she can smell a tasty treat in your pocket!
Hello, it’s Glyn here, Skye’s Puppy Walker. Welcome to her third Pupdate!
Always by my side
Skye loves to come sit next to me no matter where I am! In the mornings I like to have a cup of tea and watch her resting beside me. When we go on walks, Skye loves to meet other dogs, and while I used to worry about her dog distraction, she has improved so much. Now she likes to go up to other dogs to say hello but doesn’t run off. She’ll have a little touch on the nose with the other dog and then will run straight back to me! Skye is a great companion and is perfect in all social situations.
Nothing phases Skye
The recent impact of coronavirus has meant I’ve needed to find new ways of ensuring Skye has continued to progress in her training, given that travelling to public places hasn’t been possible. Before the social distancing guidelines were introduced, we visited lots of different supermarkets and cafés. Skye was so well behaved that I could put her lead down, and she would sit and wait for me to come back. She was also able to experience different modes of transport and had no problems at all with trains, buses and cars. Skye wasn’t even phased by the loud noises they made as they approached – which can be common for a lot of pups!
Once the restrictions are lifted, I’m looking forward to taking Skye to London as I think this will be a really fun experience for her. I’ve noticed that Skye loves visiting shops almost as much as her free runs!
I think Skye will be a wonderful companion for someone in the future. She creates a really good bond with everyone she meets and has shown me nothing but love. It’s been wonderful to see Skye’s confidence and personality shine, and I can’t wait to see this continue.
Look out for your next Pupdate to see how she is progressing on her journey to become a guide dog!
SKYE'S AUTUMN 2020 PUPDATE
You can also read this pupdate and look at the pictures and videos by clicking the "Skye's Pupdate 4" button, or to just watch the video, click "Skye 4 video".
SKYE'S SPRING 2021 PUPDATE
You can also read this pupdate and look at the pictures and videos by clicking the "Skye's Pupdate 5" button, or to just watch the video, click "Skye 5 video".
SKYE'S SUMMER 2021 PUPDATE
You can also read this pupdate and look at the pictures and videos by clicking the "Skye's Pupdate 6" button, or to just watch the video, click "Skye 6 video".
Final stages of training
Hello, its Maddie here, Skye's Trainer. I'm preparing Skye in her final stages of training to be matched with her new owner.
Skye is such a happy and enthusiastic girl and made the transition into advanced training with ease! She is so smart, picks things up so quickly and just wants to learn more - which are brilliant traits for a guide dog in training!
New training environment
Since moving to the London team, Skye has bonded with me very quickly and is happy to visit any new places. Initially she was fascinated by London pigeons and couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t move out of her way, but she’s got used to them now!
Obviously, London isn’t as busy now as it would normally be, but soon I’ll be able to take Skye to busier shopping precincts. We’ve just tried out the Tube which Skye took to with no fuss at all, but she did initially find the noise of motorcycles a bit loud!
Continuing to learn more skills
Until lockdown restrictions fully ease, I’ve had to adjust Skye’s training to more local areas both around and within the office. I’ve been teaching Skye how to find the button box at road crossings and together we’ve also been practising right shoulder work. This is where Skye must think about what obstacles I may face on the right-hand side as she walks on the left and learn to leave a sufficient gap.
Sometimes Skye would follow her nose too much and lose concentration, but I’m delighted to see her becoming a lot more focused now, especially once she gets to know places better. I’ve been introducing new places to Skye gradually just to build up her confidence. Overall, Skye is so laid back and yet gets so excited to do training sessions; sometimes she doesn’t even want the downtime in-between sessions and will come back for more!
Over the next few weeks, I will be looking to drop my guiding support of Skye slightly, so she learns to think more for herself. By doing this she’ll gradually become more confident to take on more things herself.
I’ll then be considering Skye’s individual skills and characteristics to find a suitable match. This includes reviewing her walking speed to that of her potential owner, and things like where the potential owner works in case Skye needs to have completed more specified training such as travelling on escalators. We’ll then start the matching process with her potential owner.
I think Skye will be best suited with someone who is active but who also wants a social dog as she’s such a joy to have in the office. I think her ability to adapt and her enthusiasm to continue learning will make her a truly reliable companion for her new owner.
Thank you so much for sponsoring Skye. Look out for an update on Skye’s new chapter with her owner.
Skye is loving training school
Hello it’s Kim here, Skye’s Trainer. I’m delighted to tell you that Skye is progressing really well at training school!
Despite all the additional challenges from Covid-19 while at training school, Skye just got on with everything and everyone! She easily adapted to living with her new foster family too, where she stays overnight and on weekends. She’s such a good girl!
Skye’s beautiful personality shines through
Skye is a very bright, playful and affectionate pup, with an eagerness to get her nose into everything. She has plenty of free runs either at Hainault country park nearby, or at the weekends with her Fosterer.
Life at training school
Skye has made many friends while at training school. Each morning she is dropped off by her Fosterer and spends the day with three other pups in training. Later in the day when Skye is taken back to her foster family, she enjoys the company of a chocolate Labrador called Smokey – so she’s never lonely!
A day at training school for Skye usually comprises of a morning training session with Charlie, another pup in training. Skye always waits patiently for her turn! Then she’ll either have some play time with her friends back at the kennels, or sometimes I bring her back up to the office with me, so she can relax and experience a different environment. In the afternoons, we either do more training, obedience training on site or go on a free run.
Learning new skills
Wearing the harness for the first time didn’t faze Skye. She now knows that when she wears it, it’s time to work and move into her guiding position. Skye has mastered stopping at kerbs promptly, sitting straight and still. We’re currently working on introducing her to obstacle avoidance and stopping at narrow gaps as this will be a vital skill to assist her future owner.
Skye has transitioned really well from her time with her Puppy Raiser. The only thing I can see us having to work on is her use of her nose – she likes to sniff everything! This can break her concentration, but it’s pretty common for a pup her age and stage of training to do this.
Taking in new surroundings
To aid Skye’s socialisation skills, I’ve been taking her to lounge areas within the training centre to mix with pet dogs of other staff members. This has helped us to practise her dog distraction skills.
As soon as it’s safe to do so, Skye will try out more public transport and visit some busier shopping precincts. I like taking pups to these places as they provide more complex working surroundings. There are no markings on the floor or straight lines to follow, so the pup really has to work out the route themselves.
All in all, Skye is doing brilliantly, and I can’t wait to show how she has progressed in your next Pupdate.
Skye has started training school
Hello, it’s Kim here and I am Skye’s new Trainer.
I have been a guide dog Trainer here at Redbridge for around 13 years now, although I’ve worked at Guide Dogs for 16 years! During this time, I have trained around 153 dogs altogether, which has been amazing. My favourite part about being a puppy Trainer is getting to know each dog’s individual personality when they first come in for training - every dog has their own lovable quirks. I’m really looking forward to teaching Skye new things and watching her confidence continue to grow.
Skye is a loving pup
Skye had to start training school a little bit later than she normally would, due to travel and safety restrictions of COVID-19. This meant that she got to stay with Puppy Walker Glyn for a bit longer. Skye is a very loving pup, so it was a joy for Glyn to keep puppy walking Skye during lockdown.
Preparing for training school
Although there were restrictions on where Skye could visit during lockdown, she had a wide array of experiences that will be helpful for her on her journey towards becoming a guide dog. Glyn and Skye went on lots of free runs in the park which meant Skye could fine tune her recall skills. During the sunnier days there were lots more people visiting the parks than usual, which gave Skye a great opportunity to practise her lead work and dog distraction ability. Skye’s progressed brilliantly and has a strong willingness to learn new things.
As lockdown began to ease, Skye helped Glyn move to a new house! Moving house was a great experience for Skye, to see her confidence when dealing with new situations and challenges – Skye was not fazed at all and settled into the new house with ease. She even enjoyed a delicious treat in the garden!
Introduction to training school
Now Skye is settling into life at training school and has a lot to look forward to during her time here. I’m most excited to teach Skye how to avoid obstacles as this is always a really fun technique to teach the pups. I will also introduce Skye to her harness and will help her learn how to stop at kerbs and understand how to lead someone with a visual impairment. Skye will also visit a variety of different locations, and where it is safe to do so, will travel on public transport.
I look forward to updating you on how Skye has progressed in training school in her next Pupdate.