Welcome to the Lyons family, Simba – someday you’ll be someone’s little king!
During the last few months, the world has gone through some dramatic changes. The human race has learned to adapt, defy social instincts, and move in unison from life as we know it to the ‘new normal.’
When faced with such a travesty as isolation, retreat and global change, the human population needs all the help it can get. And who best to extend a helping hand (or paw) than man’s best friend? Guide Dogs UK offer support year on year to provide independence to those living with sight loss. No matter their age, race, sex or status, the 80-year-old charity works tirelessly to train over 4,500 guide dogs each year.
Our pawsome decision
The world is increasing in anxiety and ambiguity. Yet their colleagues (canine and human) continue to support nearly 5000 people living with sight loss. We at Lyons Holiday Parks believe that the world shouldn’t come to a halt for a pandemic. Guide dogs still require breeding and training to assist deserving owners with daily tasks.
We have always been committed to helping the community in any way we can. Fundraising for Guide Dogs UK has always been our prerogative at Lyons Holiday Parks. For nearly half a decade our staff, owners and customers have generously contributed across events, fun days and campaigns.
Great news in 2020
We were delighted when we reached our target of over £10,000 in 2019. A few months down the line, it was confirmed that we would be assigned the task of naming a puppy. This also means that the money we raised will cover the cost of a potential guide dog’s training. But, the little springer was yet to be born.
A ray of light in 2020 was… Simba! We received the news last autumn that our gorgeous black lab puppy had been born, and was doing great in his litter.
After passing all his checks, Simba was sent to his puppy walker to stay with. We’ve kept in touch with Karin, who will be looking after him until he’s one year old. Karin has now been catraining little Simba for around six weeks – mainly walking on a lead and potty training!
We’ve heard from the puppy walker that Simba loves his new bed – and causing a little trouble at the dinner table!
How is Simba doing?
Karin told us that our little king settled into his new environment very quickly with no sleepless nights. This is probably because he feels so comfortable in the cosy puppy crate he sleeps in, but also, he seems to be a very calm pup in general. It normally takes pups a few days to settle into new surroundings, but Simba was almost immediately comfortable with Karin.
One of the first things pups need to master when they move to their new home is toilet training. They are encouraged to respond to the ‘busy’ toileting prompt. This is taught to all guide dog pups and is designed to encourage ‘spending’ in appropriate areas. It can take a while for some pups to get the hang of this. However, we’re pleased to report that Simba is making excellent progress and has only had a few accidents here and there.
Karin has begun introducing Simba to some basic obedience commands, such as ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘stay.’ Simba is really bright and has been picking things up really quickly, especially when there is a food treat as a reward!
An important aspect of a guide dog pup’s early training is to familiarise them with a variety of different modes of transport. This is so they can confidently go anywhere that their owner might need to later in life. Simba has started with car travel, which he’s slowly getting used to.
Simba is a gorgeous boy with a curly tail. He’s also a bit cheeky! He keeps trying to look on the table and countertops for food. But Karin is working on discouraging him from doing this. We think that Simba sounds like a wonderful, bright little puppy who has got off to a great start with the early stages of his training.
What’s next for Simba?
Karin will continue to train Simba for another three months, until he becomes customised to social situations. By the time Simba is six months old, Simba should be confident, happy and relaxed in most conditions. Socialisation with people and animals will be part of his regular training routine.
This will include almost anything in an urban area from shops, to lifts, and stairs. His reaction to traffic, both light and heavy will be assessed and appropriate action taken if he’s not too keen on the noise.
When Simba is 10 months old, his puppy walker and assessors will be able to get a much better idea of his true guiding potential.
Karin expects Simba to be able to lie and sit on command – and resist the temptation to jump at people or scrounge for food in a cafe! He should also be able to walk to the left of the handler on a lead, without pulling too much.
Simba will then be assessed on his maturity and considered for more advanced training. However, Guide Dogs remain quite flexible about this. All pups are different and some take a little longer to grow up than others. Karin and her family know it will be a sad day when Simba leaves their home, but we hope they know that they have given the pup an excellent start in life.
For now, Karin has a few more months of walkies, laughs and cuddles to enjoy – stay tuned for a pupdate in a couple of weeks! In the meantime, discover more about how you can help Guide Dogs UK.