I know this is not to do with craft, but I'm sure that any readers will forgive this post creeping in here.
When John first had a guide dog (some eight years or so ago) he was still going up and down to London for evening meetings etc and the dog gave him independence that hadn't been possible with the use of a white cane.
Having suffered a heart attack and a consequent heart bypass op in the autumn of 2005, John's health hasn't been too good, the complications of diabetes catching up with him in all sorts of ways, he has had to settle for a less active lifestyle (not that it was that active before that!).
Over the years, John has also had quite a few problems with ulcers on his feet which always take ages to heal. Recently he had one on a toe that went from bad to worse affecting the health of the whole foot and he had to have the toe amputated. He's had an ulcer on the other foot, which, thankfully, has now healed after quite some time. It is now thought that one of Josey's hairs might have got into the ulcer and made it worse (however careful we are with cleaning and grooming Josey, it's inevitable to have stray hairs).
Because of the recent foot problems, John hasn't been able to go out with Josey at all, so she hasn't actually worked on the harness now for over a month.
We've had to very reluctantly come to the conclusion that it's no longer viable for John to have a guide dog because the need for one isn't as great and the dog herself isn't getting the exercise she needs when walking with him because his pace is now much slower and he has to stop quite often because of breathlessness. And a lot of the time now he has to have a taxi rather than public transport to go anywhere.
So, after much discussion and tears, earlier this week John phoned Guide Dogs and the result of a phone conversation yesterday was that Josey would be taken back. We were told we would get a phone call telling us when this would be - little did we know it would be so quick as a call at 8 o'clock this morning and someone came to get her about 11.30 am.
She will be six in May, so she still has a working life of about four years left, so Guide Dogs are going to access her in the next couple of weeks to see whether it's viable to allocate her to anyone else (depending whether there's a suitable person to match her to) - if not, she will be adopted by someone on their list.
This is a very sad and difficult time, especially for John. Obviously we will both miss her so much and for John it's the realisation that he really isn't that fit.
We're hoping that Josey will continue to work as a guide dog because she has always been so willing and confident.