Who am I?
My name is Jax, and I am a 4-year-old Labrador/golden retriever cross. My favourite things are food, snoozing, cuddles, smiling, playtime and being helpful.
What do I do?
I am a fully trained, registered Guide Dog. I went to school for two years to learn all the skills I need to keep a person who is blind or partially sighted safe. I show off my professional status by wearing a very smart yellow and white harness uniform.
This shows everyone that I have a job to do and so am allowed in places you wouldn’t normally see dogs such as cafes, shops and even hospitals. I work with my partner, Your SU Campaigns & Communities coordinator Rachel. Every day that Rachel comes in to work for you, I am by her side. I help her find things like doors and crossings. Keep her safe by telling her when there are steps and obstructions. And lead her carefully through crowds and round obstacles so that she doesn’t bump into or fall over things.
How can you help me?
When you see us together there are a few things you can do to make sure that I can continue to do my job.
1. Look for the harness.
When I am wearing my bright yellow and white Guide Dogs harness this normally means I’m at work and need to stay focused to keep both myself and Rachel safe. Please try not to distract me in harness (especially if I am walking with the handle up off my back) as this could break my concentration which will at best leave Rachel lost and disorientated and at worst could cause an accident. I adore showing off to everyone what a great job I do, so I’m afraid even making eye contact with me could cause distraction.
2. Look for the bandana.
As a valued member of Your SU staff, I also have a Your SU branded bandana. This I will wear round my neck at events and for times when I am off duty and ready to meet my fans. If the harness is off and the bandana is on...chances are I’m ready to talk to you. When you are approaching us, please always speak to Rachel before speaking to me. She likes to say “hi” too and is here to help you as much as I am here to help her.
3. Never ever feed me.
Most dogs have perfected those ‘sad and starving’ puppy-dog-eyes. Don’t be fooled! I get two big meals a day plus lots of treats. Food is used as a reward, to show me that I’ve done something right and encourage me to do it again. If anyone other than Rachel feeds me this can seriously disrupt this process and could mean that I don’t do my work as well. I will forever be interested in food no matter how full I am, so rely on all humans around me to be responsible and not put temptation in my way.
4. Always ask.
I know I’m gorgeous and the first thing anyone wants to do when they see me is chat to me or come and give me a cuddle!
But please, whenever you see me, whether the harness and bandana are on or off, always speak to Rachel first. The thing is, I can tell her that something is there, but I can’t tell her whether you’re a lovely second year student who is really missing their family pet, or a dangerous obstacle that we need to avoid. We are a team, so speaking to Rachel first means that she knows what’s going on and we are both included from the start.
5. Always listen.
As well as asking, respect the answers given. If you ask if you can pet me and Rachel says no, take notice of that. Rachel knows me better than anyone else in the world. She had to do 5 weeks intensive training where she got to know my personality and the best ways to work safely with me. So, chances are if she would rather you didn’t pet me at a particular time, there will be several very good reasons for it.
I hope you enjoyed reading all about me and the work I do. Rachel and I are really looking forward to meeting you all sometime soon!