You may have read about Denise and Chris Chamberlin in Guide Dog News. Denise and Chris are married GDB alumni who reside in Toronto, Canada with their guide dogs, yellow Lab Ridley and black Lab Capella, respectively. Recently we asked them to share some of their funniest experiences about living the guide dog lifestyle together.
Q: What’s the regiment at home with two working dogs?
Denise: Since we have two guide dogs in the house, we have established some routines with our girls. When our dogs were new to us, we each took care of feeding and relieving our own dog, but as time went on and we bonded, we began a different routine. Our girls are very good about waiting until the alarm goes off in the morning before getting up. Usually Capella gets up and rubs herself on our bed and then does somersaults of pure joy! Ridley sits beside me while I am still in bed, eager for some pats. Capella is fed first, and then Ridley goes to her spot to be fed.
The routine at dinner is so similar that once, I called them for dinner and somehow Capella wasn’t within earshot but I was unaware that she did not come. I put Capella’s food down but the dog that was there did not begin to eat, so I wondered what was going on. As everyone knows, labs love food, so I was confused until I realized it was Ridley! She knew she wasn’t in her spot and even though Capella wasn’t there she wasn’t going to eat her sister’s food! I was amazed!
Q: What’s something funny about your guide dogs that people might not know if they only observe them while working?
Denise: In our home we have hardwood floors and it is important with two large klutzy labs that they not run on it because they would slip and slide and crash, so we taught them to play in our bedroom because it is large and carpeted. They have learned this so well that when they get excited they will walk quickly down the hall to the bedroom with toys in mouth, ready for fun!
Q: What do Ridley and Capella think about each other?
Chris: Our dogs have found a good balance of respect and order between them. They play well together and there is absolutely no jealousy between them. They really enjoy one another and are mildly sad when the other is away. Capella is more assertive but this characteristic doesn’t dampen Ridley’s spirits at all.
Q: You shared a funny story in Guide Dog News about a mix up involving the dogs. Was that the only time that’s occurred?
Denise: No! Once, we were going together to the same place and I stopped and said to Chris that my harness wasn’t feeling right, as it felt a bit tight and I said that I thought that I had the wrong harness, to which he replied” yes, you have the wrong harness and so do I because we have the wrong dogs!” This time we had the right harness but the wrong dogs again!
Q: Best thing about your spouse?
Chris: Her ability to keep me grounded.
Denise: He gives me my freedom to be an individual as well as being a partner in our marriage. It is great to be married to someone who also enjoys dogs and enjoys working with them.
Q: Sum up the best part of living the guide dog lifestyle?
Denise: Chris and I like to be busy and like to travel together so it works out very well. It is also very nice for our dogs because they also enjoy the company of a four footed friend to travel and play with.
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