The bond between service dog and handler is almost impossible to explain. It is built upon trust, I trust Isla and she trusts me. We seek reassurance from one another, and we must be there to provide that reassurance. I’ve learnt to tell what she wants by her body language and the sounds she makes. I need her to guide me, to look out for things I can’t see. But she needs me to give her encouraging words when her work is hard, to give her clear instructions, to praise her for the things she does well.
That bond isn’t just about us, it is also supported by others. The brood bitch holder who cared for her when she was born, her puppy walkers who devoted a year of their life to bringing her up and taking her out into the world. And then her trainers at guide dogs. All of these people have contributed to us becoming a team. They say it takes a village to raise a child, well it’s very similar with a guide dog puppy. From the moment she was born, and even before that, there were people ready to care for her and prepare her for the future.
And then there are those who support us as a working partnership. More staff from guide dogs, who will work with us on anything from route learning to showing me a new grooming tool to offering medical advice. And Isla’s vet, who is wonderful. When I moved to Coventry I found a vet, but I knew something was wrong. You know when you meet a person and you just know there’s something about them that doesn’t work for you? That happened. And when it comes to Isla I trust my instincts. So we looked around and found another.
He is honestly the best vet I’ve taken Isla to. Last week I dropped the bombshell that is moving to Colombia on him, and he immediately set about figuring out what vaccinations she will need. Whenever she needs treatment he lays it out clearly, makes sure I can ask questions and most of all respects us as a working team. Her health is essential, and finding a vet like him enables us to be a strong working team.
Me and Isla may be the team, but there are so many people who make a partnership like this work out. And our travelling across the world is because of all of those people who gave their time and dedication to help Isla become who she is.