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Hi, my name's Rilla but my close friends call me Gorilla. I'm a nine year old guide dog and, as a working girl, my favourite time of the day has got to be 6.00pm; dinner time!

The only drawback to dinner time is that the cheeky beggars have got me on the low calorie rubbish, I keep telling them that I'm just big boned and that my jowl is supposed to be that waddley to allow for optimum droolage, but they're having none of it.

Getting ready for dinner time is a tough job,but somebody has got to do it. Preparation begins at approximately 4.30pm. Knowing how forgetful humans can be in keeping track of old Mr. Wolf, it is my responsibility to alert them to the approaching 6'o'clock deadline. It has taken many years to perfect my dinner time alarm call. Methods that have proven ineffectual by way of trial and error include; the tappy toes routine, the live up to your nickname and grunt like a gorilla technique, the you did, I heard you, honestly I did trick, and of course the old age classic, I've got big puppy eyes and I know how to use them!

I will now walk you through each of these methods one by one for any novice guide dogs out there who might want to give them a whirl because as the old saying goes; one dog's trash is another dog's treasure, and just because not all of these have worked for me personally, that doesn't mean to say that it won't be effective on your particular breed of human. I would also be interested to hear from any regular pet dogs out there who may find any of these instructions helpful.

The Tappy Toes Routine

This versatile and creative routine first derived from a line of stage trained canines in the 20th century, but has fast become a firm favourite with pet pooches around the world since discovered by Barny the Dalmatian, from Rochdale in the north West in the year 1987, and was then adapted to every-day home use. It is essentially the canine version of what humans like to call "tap dancing", and has been known to release the graceful exhibitionist in even the scruffiest of mongrels. It has proven to be hugely successful at alerting the more intuitive owner to your growing impatience, and extra credit is given to anyone who also manages to incorporate some basic ballet moves.

Humans enjoy these energetic dances so much that some of them have even adopted a few of the moves themselves, attempting to mimic our grace and agility. However, a misunderstanding has obviously occurred somewhere along the communication line as they all appear to mistake it for the very similar "need a wee, need a wee, need a wee" routine.

Tappy Toes is not suited to houses which are fully carpeted, as the soft material does not offer adequate reverberation, which is very important as volume, more than rhythm is the key. A good rule of thumb to go by whilst deciding whether the Tappy Toes is worth a try or not can be summed up in this simple, easy to remember rhyme; the bigger the feet, the bigger the treat! It doesn't take a Border collie to work out that the more weight you can put behind your jig, the harder you are to ignore. For this reason, lighter breeds such as Chihuahuas, and the smaller terriers might be best sticking to the Puppy Eyes. Us Guide Dogs may not have the biggest paws on the block, but our "big bones" still make us ideal candidates, and our heft combined with our natural bouncibility factor means we can put on a pretty impressive performance when we want to.

Please note that this method may be unsuitable for Hearing Dogs as it will only work if your owner is looking directly at you, and it's success rate is significantly lowered with the absence of the accompanying percussion soundtrack.

The Gorilla Grunt 

This technique is generally only applicable to dogs like myself who have an ape based primary, or nickname, but feel free to give your impersonation skills a go if your name is similar to any other group of animal, you never know, you might get lucky.

The gorilla grunt was my weapon of choice whilst dealing with my puppy walker prior to my guide dog training, I found it worked best in a comically low voice, and when used in conjunction with pouty lips and wide eyes. Being black also helps with the authenticity of the performance so if you're not a natural black, try rolling in some mud from the garden first, but always make sure you wipe your feet on your way back into the house cos they seem to hate it when you traipse mud in. If your owner has very bad sight though and lives alone, you can probably get away without this courtesy as they will be none the wiser to your filthy paw prints any way.

Likewise, if your name is for example Scooby, why not take advantage and do the Scooby Doo call? This has been proven to be very endearing by some individuals.

Yes You Did 

If you have a reputation for being dumb, this is just the trick for you! This move is perfect for those of you whose owner's watch game shows, simply wait for the word 'winner' to be said on the telly and away you go! Grunts, ballet, tappy toes – pull out all the stops on this one because the more convincing you are at making them believe you really are stupid enough to confuse the word winner, with dinner, the sooner you'll be in Pedigree Chum heaven. Make them believe you're really that dumb, and the people will take pity on your apparent stupidity and probably feed you early.

Note; for this one to work, your pretend word has to be something that rhymes with the real dinner call, so it's no use using 'winner' from the telly if when they feed you, your owner calls 'foodies'. On second thoughts, that might work for some of the commonly labelled dumber dogs i.e. Bassett Hounds – no offense guys but to be honest, you do have the expectance of very low intelligence from your human, so why not use what you've got and milk it? I myself am far too clever for my owner to believe that I am stupid enough for this one so I have never wasted my time with it.

Part 2 to follow...

Written by Rilla with help from Suzanne Eaton

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