I happened to be looking for something I wrote in 2010 and came
across this bit I wrote for my previous guide dog when he turned
the remarkable age of 15. As I wasn’t blogging then, I thought it
would be nice to repeat.
Date: 08 November 2010
Do you remember me? I am Lambert, Barry Blomkamp’s Guide-dog – now
On this Sunday, I hit my big One Five, apparently the equivalent to
105 in people years. Thats pretty ancient I guess.
Ho yes, I am nicely retired now and have been so since Barry’s new
dog, Vixen, arrived in 2007 to take over my duties.
As the sun starts to settle down comfortably on the horizon of my
marvellous life, I’d like to be somewhat nostalgic and reminisce on
this rather long road Barry and I’ve travelled.
Long back in 1995, I was born to my mother Tinka, and my father,
Induna, both black labradors at the Guide Dog Training Centre in
I was part of the “L” litter and had brothers and sisters called
Lomo, Libby, Lacey, Leila, etc. It was a large litter of
successful guide dogs. While I know for a fact that Barry thought
Lambert was a naff name for a dog and would have much preferred
something like Lamborgini, I have got used to being affectionately
After all my training and once I qualified as a Guide-dog at about
18 months old in ’97, my new boss, Barry flew up to Joburg where he
and I trained together for 3 weeks. We became firm friends very
quickly and had a great time together. But I did notice that Barry
did not appreciate my rather loud snoring. As if it was yesterday,
I clearly remember, both of us well knackered after a long days
training, each of us lying in our respective beds with Barry
listening to the radio, when he would suddenly turn it right down.
He was listening for a peculiar noise. This would wake me up and
of course, I would stop snoring. I think I had him rattled for a
good few nights until he realised it was me.
Then Barry and I were Kombied down to Cape Town where I was to make
my new life. I met Barry’s first G.dog, Theo, a very grand German
Shepherd who was then 10, and getting on in his years. Barry’s
other family was his 2 lads, Ross and Bruce, his missus Julie,
Sandy the Jack Russell and a ginger moggie called Simba.
Those early years were great fun and we all had a fabulous time
together. I was particularly partial to the young kids. In fact
I absolutely love little children. They have very strange
behaviour, mannerisms and smell interesting.
Barry had started his career as a professional public speaker and
he and I travelled the length and breadth of the country. We were
in airplanes every couple of weeks or so. Those days were very
exciting. Meeting all sorts of people every day. One day I was at
Joburg Airport, guiding Barry towards the “check-in” counter when
I spotted a little boy with his back to me about 30m out in front.
I could not help myself. My tail went up and went into propeller
mode, slapping Barry’s legs. He asked me, “What is it?” which made
my propeller over-rev! In a firmer voice he said, “Settle down”.
Then I arrived behind the little boy, skidded to a halt on the
slippery floor and greeted the same height lad with a lovely big
wet nose and a small lick in his ear!
I don’t know what I did wrong, but the boy spun around, saw my huge
black face in his, and then exploded into a high pitched scream
that brought the entire airport to a complete standstill!
I got a fright which stopped my tail and Barry just stood there
asking, “What the hell is going on?” I think he might have wet
Braais at home are my firm favourite. Traditionally on Friday and
Sunday evenings. I wait for Dad to make the fire and get it
flaming nicely. Then he pulls out his little 3 legged stool from
under the braai and I move over to lie next to him – within
stroking distance. I love it so much that I actually hover until
he has settled so I can slip in next to him.
Even at my great age, I still manage to guide Dad around.
Occasionally, Barry will hook his finger in my collar and get me to
lead him inside to refresh his glass or go to the loo. I still
manage this pretty well and enjoy showing that I can still do it…
and the praise I get afterwards makes me feel king of the world.
Dad also does this around the pool. Its so cool.
Another of my top loves was to “go out front”. Often in the
evening, Dad will let us out the front. It is a bit of a pain in
the… as he insists on a stupid routine. The two of us must first
sit just behind the threshold and wait for his command. Barry
fiddles around moving hose pipes and things while we wait
impatiently. Then he comes over and sits on the stoop step with
his back to us and again makes us do some more wait! Then suddenly
with a gesture of his arms, we are allowed to move over the
threshold and sit down on either side of him. Dad then adjusts
our collars to make sure they will tinkle while we move around.
Then he taps each of us on the rump and we shoot off the stoop and
out into the garden. We are allowed to be out for around 20-30
minutes until we have checked and answered all our e-mails,
facebook and twitter messages from our buddies from up and down the
road. These days Vixen runs off and disappears but I’m afraid that
my eye-sight is not up to scratch any more, so I am a bit poop
scared to venture off our garden and driveway. But its still very
lekker going out front as Dad always rewards us with a nice titbit
A good few years ago, I was wondering around to the backyard to
have a look down the road through a large slot we have in the
garden gate when I noticed someone had left the small garage door
open. To my surprise, there was a gentle tang of good food wafting
on the air. On inspection, it came from a large bag of unopened
food. I sniffed around for an opening and nothing. Then somehow,
my canine ESP must have messaged Vixen and she quietly joined me.
With our tails whirring away, we pulled open a part of the bag and
climbed into this huge free heaven sent meal!
About half an hour later from inside our house, I heard Barry say
“Where are the dogs”. I knew the game was up and at that point
Barry came through the back door and found us! After some
shouting, he finally resigned himself to the fact the deed had been
done and banished us from the garage. That was when things became
really interesting. With about 3kgs of dry crumbles in our bulging
tummies, we sauntered around to the patio tap to our bowl to have
a “after-dinner” drinkie. Oh my dog! Water on dried food makes it
swell something terrible. Our tummies blew up into beach balls
that were about to pop!
Thank the dogs above, I wasn’t so bad. It was Vixen. She could
hardly move! She spent the whole day just lieing around, quietly
bemoaning her fate. For 3 days afterwards, Barry only gave us
about a dozen crumbles each for our supper… and in due course, we
eventually returned back to our normal healthy selves. I hear you
ask, Hope you learnt your lesson… Not a chance – we are
Like any normal canine, I love a good bone and in my youth, would
often demolish a good couple in an evening. Sadly, these days, I
can only manage one and even that one I can’t crush to pieces like
I used to be able to… and when Vixen has finished all hers and
hovers around me, trying to distract me so she can steal mine!
Because I’m such a nice guy, I generally pretend to be distracted
and let her grab it. No problem, I was finished anyways.
While Vixen is a lovely girl, she can be such a bitch. When Barry
tries to give me some affection, the busy little woman comes and
pushes her nose into the affair and tries to mess up our little
session. Fortunately, Barry is firm with her and she only tries
once and then goes off to lie down somewhere close in a kinda sulk.
As they do when interviewing the very elderly, “And what do you
attribute your longetivity too?”
My answer would be simple. First and foremost would be that Dad
always fed me a really high quality food – namely Hills Science
diet. Secondly, was my attitude to life. Nothing bothered me. I
have always taken life with more than a pinch of salt and always
successfully managed to quietly hide my formidable intelligence.
Oh yes, I was always an excellent guide dog but only did just
enough to make it work properly. I never believed in showing off
too much. Not like the haughty and somewhat brazen Theo, who
loved attention and showing just how clever he was or like Vixen,
who is such a pushy bitch.
I must admit that my aging body has made the past couple of years
quite laborious. My back legs are quite tight and I can only
manage a gentle trot in the excitement to get my supper. In the
evenings, I love lying on the hall rug, watching the world go by
through the security gate, and when someone walks their dogs past
our place, my bark has changed from a nice deep woof to a funny
kind of snorting yelp. I have to be really careful when I bark as
like some of the elderly, I can often have an accident which is
very embarrassing… and makes Julie rather cross!
Barry and Julie think my hearing is packing up – but that only
happens when I don’t want to hear. Nothing wrong with “Selective”
I have to be really careful where I take a snooze inside. As that
“selective” hearing is inclined not to warn me that Dad is on the
way and before I know what has happened, he has tripped over me!
What is wrong with the man? Can’t he see I’m having a nap in the
passage? These days this was happening rather too frequently for
my liking, so I spend most of my time in my bed. Its the safest.
I am not as good looking as I used to be. That beautiful black
labrador has changed into a pretty grey old fellow. I’ve also
become rather skinny because I think my stomach can’t assimilate my
lovely food any more. This is not serious and I still manage
rather well – for my age.
Then my eyes. I’ve had cataracts developing for the past few
years. I am almost as bad as Barry. Except I notice that even
though he has been blind much longer than me, he still is inclined
to bump into things, whilst I’ve only hit the glass door on the
patio once – and that was when it had just been cleaned. Barry has
accidently fallen into the pool a good few times, while I’ve never
been that reckless. I guess that being a guide dog for so many
years has taught me to be a good blindie!
At least I’ve never been sick or ailed from anything in all my
years. The only reason I saw Doc Mike, my vet, was for a straight
forward check up. I wish he wouldn’t take my tempreture, it is
really very undignified.
My goal in life was to be the oldest dog Barry has ever had, and
more importantly, was to beat ol’ Theo who only managed a mere 14
and a half! Where’s that applause? Or is that my selective
hearing playing up again?
While Barry would have loved to call me Lamborgini, these days I am
just a lambretta!
Maybe I’ll write to you on my 16th (112) birthday or alternatively,
I’ll see you all in the big braai in the sky!
Lotsa Love from Lambert.
Guide-dog to Barry Blomkamp (Retired)
Sponsored by The Rotary Club of Bellville (1997)
Thanks to Eukanuba, Frontline, Hills Science Diet, Novartis,
Panorama Vet Clinic and many others.
Lambert passed suddenly 6 months later at the age of 15 and a half!
He is sadly missed by all who knew him.
In the coming days I will repeat the letter I wrote to all Lamberts
friends on his passing.
Blogger Barry: Thanks for your time. Hope you enjoyed. Please
use the comment and follow buttons.
Barry Blomkamp Nd. Bsc (UL)
Professional Public Speaker, Trainer and Corporate Entertainer,
Motivational speaker, Guest & Key note speaker, Seminar &
Conference speaker, Team Builder, Comedian, Master of Ceremonies,
For your Strategic Planning sessions, Management or Sales meetings,
Conferences and/or Seminars, Award functions, Year end parties,
Cape Town, South Africa.