Thanks Guys

I was asked the other day by a blogger friend if she could write a bit about me getting my guide dog in her blog. I said Yeah, as i think it’s good to learn what way things are done in different parts of the world, and it would possibly get me more readers!!!! Well it was a lovely mention. It was just about what had happened, and basically just a summary saying that I had been matched and to “support” me as the journey continued. Thank you Ro!!!!!!! I love reading her blog, and i find it really fun. I have to keep reminding myself though that it isn’t the way our team does things, and that things might be slightly different here than over there, and not to expect the same things exactly. I still enjoyed a really good read though, and always checked to see if she had updated her blog. She is working well with her guide dog Jayden now, and it is so good. I think i have blogged about her before, but i can’t be bothered linking to the post. Thank you again,
Ro
Here is her lovely piece she wrote about me:

Ever wonder what getting a guide dog is like when you live in Ireland? Well,
Torie
is getting her first guide dog! She lives in Ireland and it’s really interesting to see how they do things there. She’s going to class August 30 and it looks like they already have a match for her. The dog’s name is Ushi and Torie has already gone on some walks with her. When she goes to class, she’ll go stay at a hotel and finish up her training with Ushi. Torie is going through all the emotions we all go through when about to get our first guides, so let’s all go give her support and watch as the training unfolds! Congrats Torie!!

It is amazing to get help and advice from all my blogger friends out there. At the start, I would only read blogs that were in the UK, but since there aren’t very many of them, I decided to check out a few farther afield. Thank god I did!! I wouldn’t have discovered such wonderful blogs, like Ro’s, for example.

Thank you to everyone who has commented on my last couple of posts. Thanks first of all to
Jeniffer,
Who has been there throughout the past two years near enough, and who’s team seems to be very similar to mine, up here in the north. Without her I probably wouldn’t have discovered some other wonderful blogs, as she always has up to date blogs, and she sometimes would link to new blogs she has discovered along the way. Also thanks to
Terry,
Who I have also found through Jeniffer. She has been great both on here and on Facebook.

Next, it’s thanks to
L^2,
Who’s blog I am still working my way through. Am on 2007 with that though so that is good.

A new reader commented last week, and she goes by the name of
Carren,
Who is a co-writer of the blog “vommit comitt” which i can’t be bothered finding out the link for. This blog always has funny articles, and makes fun at the current news stories in Canada and around the world.

Finally,
Becky
And her guide dog cricket. Becky is a theropist, and she recently featured my “Story of resiliency” in one of her posts.

If there is anyone I haven’t mentioned, sorry, but thanks to all of you guys over the past couple of posts. You really do make such wonderful friends when ever you start a blog. That should be one of the top reasons to start a blog!!!! So if anyone is thinking of starting a blog, just think that although you might not have many readers, or any comments at the start, it will grow in time, and you will gain the support of many people who are maybe in a similar situation, or have come out the other side.

So thanks again guys, and I will be sure to keep you all posted on the guide dog and everything else!!!! We all would be lost without blogs I think!!!


Still Hasn’t Sunk In

It’s been three days since i got the word that i would be going on guide dog class in
What is now 23 days!
And it still hasn’t sunk in. It still feels as if i’m just waiting still.

I was thinking the other day that it was approximately 2 years ago when i first
Applied
For the guide dog. I have come so far since then. I can still remember the amount of questions I had that first night. I have done so much in these past two years. From the initial application, to the mobility assessment, the
Guide dog assessment,
and
Guide dog Further Assessment
Spent about a year torturing everyone and worrying about
My Rolling gait,
Which thankfully i have managed to forget about for the most part lol, Have done some
Short Handle Work,
Reflected on
A year from my guide dog assessment,
Did some more
Short Handle work,
In which I gave my rehab worker the wrong direction lol, Worried about going to
The Hotel,
In which we did the pre class training to get us used to the hotel in case we did go for training, spent three days at
That Hotel,
Where I loved it, Tortured practically the whole district team who happened to come up about the gait, tried out the Trekker Breeze GPS system on the Thursday, which i hated, had a brilliant walk with
A Guide Dog called Opal,
Found out she was matched already to someone, Gradually being able to forget about the gait, carried on learning my route to the college and getting it polished off, being on the waiting list for a year, having a
Bad Mobility Day,
In which i got all upset When I said the wrong direction, and burst in to tears as i thought i was just deliberately making mistakes, worried about how that would affect me getting a guide dog, worried i hadn’t enough routes, worried about not being motivated enough to use the cane and wondering how to get more motivated, asked many questions, constantly asked when there was a guide dog class, worried about what kind of guide dog owner i would be, and how i would
Bond,
With the dog, got loads of great comments and advice concerning it, asked some more questions, waited, waited a bit longer, asked some more questions, waited, got excited about the dog, waited, went on a walk
Last Wednesday
With Ushi, got a phone call on Friday saying that the instructors wanted to use the wider harness, walked with them and Ushi on
Monday,
Found out that more dogs would be coming over in September, found out on Tuesday that the instructors would be coming out again on Wednesday as they thought that Ushi was a “Potential” match, Went on that matching walk, and found out that I would be going on class on the 30th of August.

So now i am sitting here with a “self declaration medical form” to fill in, and still not believing that i really will be off to class in 23 days approximately. I can’t believe that i have been waiting for approximately 15 months.

Is it normal to be thinking that i am still waiting and not believing that i will be on class on the 30th August? I have got so much to do before then. I am going off on Holiday on Tuesday down to Fermannagh, for three days, and then back again. My rehab worker is going to show me the hotel about a week before class, and I want to get my hair cut/buy new shoes/remember my commands/anything else i can think of really. I bet the time will fly in!

That’s basically my guide dog experience in a nutshell, and that’s not the end of the journey yet! I have a tough road ahead, both for me and Ushi, and hopefully it will all go well. I want to enjoy the class, but i hope that i can focus and remember everything. I’m feeling quietly confident though, since i know all my commands, and have remembered them so far.
There isn’t really much point in this post, i’m just reflecting and anticipating really.

When ever I get more information about Ushi, i will be sure to publish it here. Thanks again to all those people who have sent me congratulations/let me worry/been excited/anything else. Also thanks for everyone over the past two years! I also have to say a huge thank you to our district team, who have just been amazing!!!!

Let’s hope that it will feel real soon!


26 Days!

I am going on class on the 30th August!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got a call Yesterday from the instructor i had on
Monday
Saying that
Ushi
Might be a “potential” match. They wanted to come out today and see if she would be.

So at about 10 o’clock they came out. It was the same instructors that i got on Monday. Just as i stepped out the door though, it decided to threaten to chuck it down, so i went and got my coat, and we sat in the instructors car until the shower passed.

They explained that they thought that Ushi was a potential match, but wanted just to check just to make sure. They told me that she can be a bit cheeky sometimes, and they wanted to see if i could handle her.

So once it brightened up again, which wasn’t that long, we got out of the car, and got ready to go.

My neighbour came over to see us before we were ready to go, and asked me if this was my dog. I just said that i was going on a walk to see. Then she said good luck lol.

Not long after we set off, there was a car and one of those little recycling boxes really close together, and Ushi just stopped. But after a bit of encouragement I got her going again. At each of our road crossings, the instructors told me to hold the lead in my right hand, just to kind of get her going the right direction if she happened to veer. I thought this would bring her across my body, but they said not to pull that much, and just to give her a gentle tug kind of, and to hold the lead out in front of you and kind of to the right. You still have the harness, but you just have the lead in your right hand instead of your left. It sounded really complicated when the instructor described it, but i caught on really quickly which was good. They also said that if she was veering, not to have a constant pull on the lead, but just give a quick pull each time, as doing a constant pull back would cause the dog to pull even more. It’s hard to explain though.

There was one part of the route where Ushi was a bit naughty, and decided to step off the kerb when i told her to go right. She was looking at some birds across the way apparently. That was what they meant by her getting a bit cheeky. So i just told her to get back on the kerb, but she wouldn’t do it, so they said for me to drop the handle and be a bit firmer. I did that, but had to do it again to get all of her up, as she only had her two front paws on the kerb. She was grand after that.

There is one point on the route where you go past a church, and we hit it at a bad time, as there was a funeral just finishing. So there was loads of people lol. One guy started talking to Ushi, and making eye contact, so as soon as i felt her head turn, i told her “straight on” hoping that the guy would get the hint lol. It seemed to work. But nobody else tried to bother her which was good.

There was one point where i had to go off the kerb to get around an obsticle. This is apparently called “off kerb obsticles”. Basically the dog will stop, and won’t go at all. So you get the dog to go to the kerb, give it the “Forward” command, and then tell it to go “over” and “find the step”. You will then be brought back on to the kerb, but you will be past the obsticle. I found out that you don’t actually do that until the second week of guide dog class, but there was no other way arount the obsticle, so they had to show me how to do that.

I found out how to bring the dog back if it steps over a kerb or something. There was a little tiny kerb to a drive way, which i would have just travelled over with the cane, but the dog needs to stop at it anyway. I told Ushi to “find the kerb” and pointed to the side, as i didn’t know that the dog should stop at the kerb in front of me. So the instructors told me to stop, and get Ushi over in front of me. Then i dropped her handle, and stepped back a couple of steps, while telling her to “come”, and just holding the lead. Then i just told her “Forward, and “find the kerb”.

We didn’t have any bother after that. I felt that she was walking more at my speed this time. The instructors said that each dog is going to speed along at the start, particularly in the first few days. They need to get used to the way you are with them, and they need to get used to your speed and all.

When we got back to the car, i gave Ushi loads of praise but as i went to rub her under her chin, as apparently that is what she likes, i kind of stuck my fingers in her mouth lol. It was open, but i kind of jumped when i felt her teeth lol. She didn’t close her mouth, it was just a shock lol. While i was praising ehr and all, i was asked if i would like to come on class. I was really really really happy. I couldn’t believe it!!! I wouldn’t have thought they would have got me so quickly. We put Ushi in the car, and we all went into the house to ask questions and that.

I am going to a different hotel this time, and not the one i was at
Back in November
As this hotel is easier apparently for guide dog classes, and the only reason they started using the other hotel was because this one was getting fixed or something. My rehab worker is going to show me around it about a week before, so that should be good.

Ushi is allowed to sleep in my room when i come home too, which is good. I won’t need to bring anything dog related when i go on class, just myself, and some money if i want to buy alcohol. Everything else is paid for. I think i will probably bring some. I can bring my laptop, and they will take us to a pet shop if we want to go there, and help us pick out stuff for our doggies. This will probably happen on the last week i would imagine. They want me to ask as many questions as i feel i need to ask, and they say that there is no rush. If when i get home it takes 3 or four weeks before i qualify, they won’t mind, and they are not going to shout at me or anything, which is really good.

Apparently the spending run is quite near to the bedrooms, which is good. And Ushi only spends in the morning and evening. She will go for a pee during the day, but she won’t poo which is good, and hasn’t spent on route yet which is really good also. They will show me how to pick up after her and all too which is good. I would rather do that.

They will give me their email address in case i have any questions between now and then, and they say that i can always ring the office or that if i need anything too. I might email them and ask what weight she is and that.

I still can’t believe that it is happening!!! I still feel as if i am just going through the motions of just waiting and that. When will it sink in? I hope it’s not too long!!!!

I intend to write each night too, as there is so much detail involved, and i want to get it all down, just to keep a record for me, and plus if i forget anything. I hope i remember all of what i have been told!!!!

I sort of thought that when they phoned me yesterday that it might be a match, but didn’t really want to get excited in case it wasn’t. But no, it is actually happening. In 28 days or so, i will be going off to class. This is after waiting approximately 15 months. Maybe it’s 16 now? Not sure. But no i am really really really really really really really really really like oh my god lol. I will probably pick your brains for ages now lol.

Oh and by the way, i had spelt Ushi’s name wrong in the previous posts. It is U S H I, and not O O S H E Y lol. So sorry about that. I hope it starts to feel real soon, as i don’t want to just be going along. I want to get excited!!!!!! What an awesome birthday present to go on class for my birthday!!! The instructors were like “Oh if you have plans that day” and i was like nooooooo!!!!

Hard to believe that less than a week has gone by, or maybe just a week, from the first walk when they were in the area, to now!!! I never thought that a week from last Wednesday i would have been put on class!!! That is pure cool!!!!

I could write away for ages more, but i will stop now, as it will just be rambling. Thanks to those of you who have been commenting both on here and on facebook. It has been awesome. I have got loads of congratulations messages all day, both on facebook and through texts and on here. It is totally awesome to know that in 26 days i will be on the way to getting my future guide dog!!!! Yay!!! I should start a count down on here or on facebook, but wouldn’t know how to lol.

Sorry for the length of this post. *had miscounted my days on Wednesday lol*.


Another Walk With A Wider Harness

I had another walk with
Ushi
Today.

On Thursday afternoon i got a phone call from the guide dog mobility instructor i saw on Wednesday. Well one of them anyway. I missed the call as i was in Derry for the day, and by the time i got back from that i didn’t think it would be appropriate to call.

So on Friday morning, I phoned her back. I was kind of nervous, as i wasn’t sure what to expect. When i talked to the instructor, she told me that she wanted to try me out with the wider harness, or the “Side fitting” harness. I had a go briefly with it on Wednesday, but it was only for about 5 minutes. So she was going to come out today (Monday).

I sort of thought after hanging up the phone “i wonder is this a good thing” lol and then was thinking “what if it is a match” or “What if i wasn’t ready for the dog if it wasn’t a match” and stuff like that. As the weekkend went on, i started to be a bit more excited but there was still that little voice that said “you’re not ready” and that. I sent a couple of emails to my rehab worker basically telling him all my worries and that, and he reassured me a bit which was good.

So today came. I woke up bright and early as the instructor was coming at about half 10. There was going to be another instructor there, as the first instructor is just training, and needs someone to observe her.

So at about 11 o’clock, they arrived. They first got all the stuff out of the car, like the harness and stuff. They brought a shorter lead with them today as i thought the other lead was rather awkward. This lead wasn’t as awkward. I just kind of looped it between by two fingers, as they said that i would have better control if the dog started misbehaving or anything. We were doing a route that i knew, which was the route to college, well part of it anyway.

There was a car parked on the kerb slightly along, so we had to go off the kerb. I just told Ushi to “find the kerb” and then told her “forward” and then “Find the step again once she had gotten past it.

There is like a little side path that you can use to get round a corner on our route, or else you can just go around the outside, and round some cars. The dog took me down this path, which was okay. I just had never done that way with the cane.

There is another bit of the route where there is grass on one side of the path. Ushi started speeding up lol. Apparently dogs do this if they know there is grass, and if it is an open space, as they think they will get a “free run” which is where they can run off lead and harness. I just had to get her to slow down. She wasn’t going massively fast, but still, she needed to slow down. I just gave the “steady” command, which is where you kind of move the harness up and down slowly, and say “steady” but kind of drag it out.

Once i said that, she slowed down which was good.

When we crossed the road, what would usually happen with the cane would be that you would kind of go straight on, and then you would find the wall and then turn left. Apparently you can just turn left as soon as you cross the road, as it is a low kerb, and you don’t need to find the shore line, as this would mean that the dog was walking you into stuff, which would kind of defeat the purpose lol. I thought that was cool that you could just turn left. I found out that you don’t do the “left behind” when you are on an up kerb, as you could fall off it lol. Instead, you use the “Left in front” which is where you turn your left foot but have your right foot straight, and then you point with your right arm across your body and say “left”. It is similar to the “right” command, only using opposite feet. I found this out the other day, but forgot to mention it.

I found out that when you kind of turn a corner you have to tell the dog to “find the kerb” as apparently the dog doesn’t make the decision, but you do, so you aren’t meant to make the dog actually turn the corner. Or go right round it.

We just went a small way along, and then went back past a local park. I had never really been this way with the cane though.

So we just crossed at one of our kerbs, instead of going right. At this point, i found out what the “guiding” road was. I had heard it on Wednesday, but didn’t fully understand it. Apparently, this is a really good tool for orientation. It is basically the traffic flow. It should either be on the left or the right. If it is behind you, then the dog has probably wondered up the wrong street.

I asked what would happen if you said the wrong direction, and apparently you can just retrace your steps, and once you are going the right direction again, you can give the dog loads of praise, as it has done what you wanted it to. You would just find the kerb, and then think about your “guiding road” and then turn the direction you wanted to go.

It went without a hitch after that. When we turned round, there is a road on to our street, and the dog knew that it was near the house, so she was going to the left alot, which would mean that she wouldn’t really be going across the road. So one of the instructors stood sort of in the middle of the road where straight would be, and i pointed to straight, but Ushi was being stubborn and just wouldn’t go. I had to give her a massive “straight!” and jerk the harness until she would actually go straight. She got there eventually. Then it was a “find the bus” to get to the car.

We stood talking for about 10 minutes while i stroked and praised Ushi lots. I told them that i hadn’t learnt any more routes apart from the route to and from college, and they were grand with that. They said that i wasn’t to worry about that, and that they would teach me more routes if i needed them.

They also said that the dog would be able to sleep in my room at home. It was up to me where i wanted the dog to sleep. I just wanted to make sure that was okay though before allowing the dog to sleep in the room. I asked them about bonding and they said that they will give me advice on how to bond, and asked if i played with the pet dog, but i said that i didn’t really bother with her, as she is kind of boisterous. They were cool with that too, and said that also feeding and that would help with the bond which was good. On class they will give us toys and stuff too. They will tell me what they are like and that, when they bring the dog out for a matching visit.

They also reminded me again that it is hard work, but basically it is hard for everyone.

They basically are going to be attached to the dog all the time at first if something awful was to happen. Thank god for that!!!

After that, they left. Oh, and new doggies are apparently coming over from Scotland in September, so who kknows!!!!!!!

I am glad that i got to use the wider harness. It wasn’t a bad thing after all!!! I found it much better than the first harness we used.

I am also glad about the route and that, as i was worried that they would be like “you should know more than that” but they are grand. They want me to ask as many questions as i need to, as they want it to work.

I am also glad that for the residential class, i will have the same instructor every day, which is good.

I hope that it does go well when i do get the match, and that i am able to focus and remember all the commands, and that i will be able to concintrate and focus. Yes i can probably switch off a bit, but probably only when i know a route really really really well.

Oh, by the way i got a picture on the other post. I hope it worked.

Sorry for the length of these posts, but i would rather that i got everything in. Plus it will hopefully help someone and it is also a record for me. I wish there was something else that i could do to prepare myself, but i don’t think there is anything else i can do to prepare lol.