Thanks to your generosity the Yours guide dog has been paired up with a deserving owner.
It’s amazing to think this handsome, young labrador cross retriever, looking pleased as punch with himself in his finest guide dog harness, is the very same pint-sized puppy we once cooed over as he sat in the palm of our hand. Yet this beautiful dog is most definitely Keller, the guide dog puppy that
amazing Yours readers paid to put through training. And while there’s still that same mischievous streak in him we spotted from his early days, today, he is a life-changing guide dog helping his new owner, Michael Lee, to live the life he wants.
Catching up with them in their home in Dorset nine months after they were first partnered together, it’s so heart-warming to see that these two are thick as thieves. “From the first moment I saw Keller, I loved him straight away,” says Mike, 78, who has macular
degeneration and is now registered as severely sight impaired. “We became best buddies immediately. He’s so lovely and a real meet-and-greet loveable dog. He’s also a great guide dog helping me around.”
In fact, as Mike’s sight is degenerative, Keller has been a real lifeline in helping him stay independent, always by his side as he heads into town or to the local café. And this is a duty Keller does with such great pride, not least since he’s
become something of a local celebrity since he teamed up with Mike. “I walk from my house to the town centre most days and on our way I can guarantee that five or six people will stop me and say hello and I’ve often never met them before. I’ve also had people say to me ‘Oh this is Keller is it?’ and I think ‘Yes but who are you?’ Whenever anyone refers to us now it’s always Keller and Mike. He always comes first,” Mike jokes.
Not that all this has gone to Keller’s head. He still remains the same calm-headed, chilled out pup that made him such a good candidate for a guide dog when he was little. But that’s not to say he’s always a model of perfect behaviour – after all, he is a dog. “Keller can be a crafty little wotsit sometimes and he doesn’t miss a trick,” says Mike with a smile. “The other day he came into the kitchen while I was getting some food together but then the phone rang so I put my plate on the worktop. When I came back, Keller was trying to devour the lot!”
And if you’ve got a ball, Keller will be all too eager to oblige you for a quick kick-around. In fact, the one time Mike and Keller got separated in the local park, they were quickly reunited when a passer-by mentioned to Mike that his dog was busy playing football with the local kids. But despite Keller’s little moments of naughtiness, the Lee household today is a tremendously happy one.
Even Caesar the cat welcomed this new waggy-tailed addition to the house, although Keller still isn’t allowed to venture into his room, called Caesar’s Palace. Sometimes in an evening, Keller, Caesar and Mike will even cuddle up together for a night in front of the telly. The partnership between Guide Dogs and Yours just shows what can be achieved, and as Keller’s sponsorship draws to a close, it’s just the start for Keller, Michael Lee and their wonderful new friendship.
THE LITTER LOWDOWN
When Keller was born, he was one of three gorgeous little pups. So now Keller is all grown up as a fully-qualified guide dog, we decided to find out what his brother and sister are up to these days.
Keller’s brother, Darcy, is also a guide dog for a lovely lady who adores this generous little labrador cross retriever He’s a gentle boy and very well-mannered, and, like Keller, he loves getting attention and cuddles. And it seems Keller’s mischevious streak must be genetic as Darcy went through a spell of running off during runs and ignoring his trainer’s whistle but that’s been ironed out now. It’s clear he adores his owner and even managed to bag himself a sleeping spot upstairs after he kept waking up his owner in the early hours whining and pacing, because he didn’t want to be left out. Keller’s sister Daisy is also a guide dog. A bright willing dog, who is gentle to handle, she is making a huge difference to the life of her owner, who has tunnel vision and works in an office.