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EDITIONS
 Friday, 24 January, 2003, 15:54 GMT
Blunkett's new dog takes her bow
David Blunkett with new dog Sadie (left) and old dog Lucy
Sadie (left) takes over Blunkett's lead from Lucy
Home Secretary David Blunkett showed his soft side as he welcomed his new guide dog and bade farewell to his companion of 10 years.

Sadie, a two-year-old black Labrador-curly-coated retriever cross, appeared particularly relaxed with the media as she stood patiently by the side of her new owner.

The "spirited" new guide dog replaces her half-sister Lucy, who is retiring after nearly a decade by the minister's side.

Lucy will be moving to Greater Manchester with trainer Val Woolrich.

Soon to reside in Bolton's Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, where her half-sister Sadie was trained, Lucy will live with her 11-year-old terrier boyfriend, Barney.

Mr Blunkett reassured the media that Lucy was "not resigning on an issue of principle".

Hard man?

The 10-and-a-half year-old veteran was present to offer support to her former master and half-sister as they faced journalists.

The home secretary appeared in good spirit but admitted it was "one of those moments where the hard man feels soft".

The cabinet minister shall be keeping in touch with Lucy, whom he described as not only a "tremendous aid to mobility but also a companion".

Sadie, David Blunkett's new dog
Sadie goes from training to cabinet meetings
Sadie, regarded as a "workaholic" by her trainer, was gradually introduced to Westminster with excursions around the Houses of Parliament.

Trainer Ms Woolrich described Sadie as a "workaholic" saying: "She is very spirited, a real character. From when she was a puppy she was a very mischievous little dog.

"She's very outgoing, she is inquisitive but not fazed by anything and that reminded me of Lucy at that stage of her life."

Sadie has the same father as Lucy and was born among a litter of six in the guide dogs breeding programme.

End of an era

As the home secretary's fifth dog, Sadie has a great deal to live up.

Following in the footsteps of Ruby, Teddy, Offa and Lucy, Sadie must quickly adapt to the faster pace of Westminster and the responsibility of guiding a cabinet minister.

Her predecessor Lucy has been known to cause a bit of a stir in Parliament.

During William Hague's final prime minister's questions, Lucy got up, shook herself and walked out.

According to Mr Blunkett, "she obviously knew it was the end of an era and now it's the end of an era today in terms of her working arrangements with me."

The dog reshuffle presents a new phase for the home secretary, who professed he has many happy memories of Lucy.

But he was also "looking forward to getting to know the new dog Sadie and to begin to work with her".

Mr Blunkett assured those present that the new addition to Parliament has been adequately security vetted.


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See also:

06 Nov 02 | Politics
05 Sep 02 | England
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