As promised, here is the letter I wrote after the passing of
Lambert my guide dog at the time. Written on 27 May 2011.
Sorry, it has taken me a good few days to rack up the strength to
sit down and write to all Lambert’s friends.
Last month we had to put our Simba, 15 year old cat to sleep and
on Tuesday the 24th, Poor Ol’ lambert must have slipped and fell in
Vixen and I were away at a business meeting in Malmesbury and left
home at 6.30am. Julie had gone back to bed and fortunately Ross
had a day off so was here.
After my meeting and had switched my phone on again, I got a
message to ring Julie. Under usual circumstances, we hardly ever
call each other unless it is serious/urgent. So I knew straight
away that something serious had happened.
Lambert had a fantastic life. He was 15 years, 6 months and 17
days old. For a big black Labrador, it is an almost unbelievable
age. A life that was equivalent to 124 human years. The guide dog
association suggests that 1 guide dog year is equal to 8 human
It has to be said that he was pretty blind with cataracts, a bit
deaf, and just recently getting quite unsteady on his legs. He
would be quite unsteady if I knocked into him by accident.
It was a rainy morning with the paving around the pool pretty
slippery. Julie heard him having his normal early morning drink of
water, afterwhich it was his habit to take a slow stroll around the
garden snuffling for any new smells in his territory. He must have
slipped on the wet paving.
He was found near the steps of the pool. Over the years, I have
taught all our animals to not try and get out of the pool at the
sides but to use the steps. This worked years ago when the Jack
Russell, Sandy fell in and was found sitting on the top step
waiting for someone to help.
It is my guess Lambert tried to get to the steps but in his old
age, was just not strong enough to pull himself up and onto the
He has been a truly solid friend and servant to me and our family
for many years. As a guide dog, he was nothing extraordinary. He
much preferred to keep his incredible intelligence well hidden.
Not that he would do anything wrong or stupid but rather that he
would only do just enough to get the job done. Not like Theo and
Vixen who have the ability to anticipate what to do next. Lambert
would simply stop and wait for the next instruction and then
execute it with no trouble.
In the heyday of my business, he and I must have flown about 120
times up and down the country. he loved these trips. He was a
wonderful guide dog. For instance, we would leave home at around
5.00am for a job in Joburg and arrive back home at about 9.00pm.
All that time he would never ask for the toilet, this even when
often giving him the opportunity on a patch of grass somewhere.
But when he did finally get home to his own lawn, he would lift his
leg and stand there peeing for about 15 minutes! his ability to
hold it in was amazing and clearly did him no harm.
The one issue I did have with him was his huge friendliness. When
we climbed on a plane, he would think each person was there just
for him, and he would feel it absolutely necessary to greet each in
turn as I tried to get to my seat! Holding up the queue!
One of Lambert’s most endearing things was his ability to smile.
When he was pleased, he would lift his lips and show you a full set
of strong white teeth. As a youngster, he would greet you by
bouncing up and down on his front paws in the most comical
manner… With his big floppy ears flapping away, along with that
lovely “Colgate” smile. He also had a black spot about the size of
a coin on his tongue. I would be asked “How did he get it?” “From
chewing a pen” was my reply.
Lambert was one of the fittest and healthiest dogs I’ve ever had
the pleasure of owning. Right through his long life, the only time
he went to his vet, Doc Mike, was for the mandatory check up.
Years ago, he and I had a function out at Stellenbosch University
and afterwards, we ended up in a huge quadrangle in amongst the
various residences. I took off his harness and let him off the
lead to have a good run around. There were lots of braai areas all
over and when it was time to go, he wouldn’t come to my call.
Bugger that he was probably saying “All these old braai bones are
fine for me”. I started to call him in Xhosa. “Boilappa, Issapa
Wenna!” I shouted. One of the students asked me “Why are you
calling him in Xhosa?”. “He is black, isn’t he?” I replied to much
Over January and February, Lambert was renamed “Albert” by Julies
Mum during the time she was staying with us for a couple of months.
The old codger didn’t seem to mind. Thats Lambert I’m talking
In his retirement, he loved guiding me around the house and/or
garden. I would simply hook my left finger in his collar and ask
him to take me to my chair, the braai, compost heap, kitchen or the
toilet. These little trips were always executed perfectly, doing
all the right things like stopping at the steps and giving me
enough of a gap when going around a right turn. I always gave him
a big fuss afterwards and his tail and smile told the story of how
happy he was to be able to help.
The last time he did a little guiding for me was just last Friday,
taking me from the braai to inside to replenish my drink.
Years ago, if we left him at home, he would dig himself a nice cool
place in the sand of our kitchen vegetable garden – much to my
vexation – and lay there waiting for us to get home. The vegy
patch is close to the garage.
Thats where Ross and I buried him.
Man oh man, I loved that dog!!! We are all going to miss him.
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.