Should The Assistance Dog Blog Carnival Be By Monthly?

I think this is being asked alot on blogs and such at the minute.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the 2nd assistance dog blog carnival over at
Dogs’ Eye View
I think it was quite a success, and there are some great posts. (I still haven’t made it through all of them-got rather side tracked). Last week I was throwing the idea of me hosting a carnival one day. I even had the theme picked out and all. So I left a comment over at
After Gadget
Who was the creator of the carnival. She emailed me saying that she was going to write a post about whether the carnival should be by monthly instead of quarterly like it is now. If you would be interested in commenting, hop on over to
This post on her blog
And leave her some feedback. I think she has got hosters up until July 2012! By that time though we might not be interested in the carnival any more.

Go let her know your thoughts-i’m sure she’d appreciate them! I must go and try and read through the rest of the carnival posts.

Finally Up And Running?

Remember about 7 or 8 months ago I mentioned about
And how possible it would be to do it? Well I might just have found the answer!

I was put in touch with a lady who did quilting. I contacted her on and off, and she agreed to meet with me to see if we could sort something out.

Each time we have agreed to meet though, life has got in the way. What with me going on class with Ushi, to just not being free.

I sent her a message just on the off chance that she would be free sometime this week. I got a message back last night saying that she was indeed free to meet with me today at our local coffee shop. Iwas thrilled. Was this it finally getting up and running?

I got up bright and early this morning. I wasn’t meeting the woman until about 11 o’clockish, so decided to leave at 10 just in case we had any problems.

We arrived with plenty of time to spare, at approximately half past 10 lol. So maybe leaving early wasn’t needed lol.

I got Ushi to find the counter, but we were at the wrong end of it lol. A kind lady took me down to the bottom end though which was good. I ordered an orange juice and then was taken to a table. I was very impressed about how helpful they were. Once I was seated, I got the dog settled. It was one of those bench things that are like couches. It was very narrow at the table, so I just got Ushi to lie down just beside the table. It meant that she had more room if she wanted to sleep or anything.

I sat anxiously checking the time, and wondering if the woman would turn up. While I was waiting, the lady that served me I think came over and asked if she could pet Ushi. I told her I really appreciated her asking, and that alot of people didn’t ask. She said it was no problem. We chatted for a while, until the woman came.

I let her and Ushi say hello (I had her off harness) first, and explained a bit about how the dog comes to be with me or any other owner really. I didn’t go into alot of detail though. She thought it was fascinating. She then went on to tell me about how she had seen a woman working the dogs and she thought that one of them was me (that was my instructor when she was working Ushi and all before I went on class). I then explained about the training we both had to go through and that.
We then got talking about the actual quilting. She says that there is no reason why I can’t do it. She says she will get me a hoop (I think it’s like a frame and the fabric sits between the two parts of it). I thought the hoop was one of those ones that schools use for PE! She says I can use thicker thread, and that it wouldn’t matter what colour the quilt turned out to be. She suggested that I could use a piece of masking tape or something so that I could feel it and work along that line. I was so pleased that she was willing to give it a go and that she was wanting me to be able to do it. Happy days!

She is going to get me a needle threader as she says it might be easier than threading the needles myself.
So on Monday we are going to meet again and we will decide where we will go from there. She will look for the hoop for me and then we will get started!

I can’t wait to get started. I am so glad that she is willing to give it a go. She said that her aunt was blind so she at least knew a little about visual impairment which was good.

We then talked some more about Ushi and how I use a computer and stuff like that.

She was a very nice woman but she did like to talk! I suppose it’s better than silence though.

She says that we are going to have breakfast on Monday so I hope that she knows that Ushi can’t be fed anything!

Ushi was grand throughout the whole thing. She did sit up once or twice but I just let her since she wasn’t doing anybody any harm or anything. Most of the time she just dozed though. This was really my first time totally on my own in a coffee shop. I’m so glad I could control her and that she behaved!

She did rush a bit on the way home though, and there was one point where I wasn’t really on the ball and thought that we were going the wrong way!

Apart from that, it was a fabulous day. I’m so glad that the quilting might get up and running finally! I’ll let you know how Monday goes. Hopefully Ushi will be just as behaved as today!

Phone Problems

I think a couple of weeks ago I mentioned about how the keys on my
Nokia E51
Were sticking quite a bit.

Well a couple of weeks ago a few keys on my phone stopped working. It was just like they wouldn’t register. I played with it for a week to see if I could get them working again, but they wouldn’t work at all. I took it into my local vodafone shop to discover that the keys were in fact working (I didn’t know at the time which keys were working and which wern’t). So off I went thinking that they were working, only to discover that they weren’t. It was the numbers 5, 6, 8 and 9. That basically snookered me dialling any numbers which had a 5 in them (which was pritty impossible since our area code has a “2 5” in it).

A couple of days later, I took it into a shop which repairs phones (not connected with Vodafone). They thought that it was the “under pad” which the external keypad sits on. They kindly ordered it in for me, and fitted it a few days later. We then discovered that it wasn’t that at all, unfortunately.

I ordered a new battery in case it was my battery, but it still didn’t fix the problem. I thought by this time that it was time for an upgrade.

I went back to Vodafone again. They showed me a Nokia E52 though I didn’t really like the buttons on it. I like good buttons that I can feel no problem. They then let me see an E72, which had a qwerty keyboard. I wasn’t sure about this, but admit that the buttons were quite pronounced. Unfortunately, it didn’t support the TALKS software. They finally suggested that if I could find an E51 again or some other phone, that they would put the talks on it for me as long as it had been on a Vodafone network at some point. They said that they would also reduce my tarriff from £25 for 600 free minutes plus unlimmited texts to any network down to £15 each month. This seems like quite a bargain!

So when I got home I jumped straight on to the email. I emailed my mentor I had for the GCSE Maths and Essential Skills ICT course to ask if he had any phones spare or knew where I could get one. He said that he had a Nokia 62 10 Navigator with TALKS, or an E65 without talks. I opted for this one as he said that this one had better buttons than the navoigator. He posted it yesterday and it arrived this morning. It was like “pass the parcil” unwrapping it though!

The phone is quite slim with good buttons. It is a slide phone. I took it into Vodafone today and it should hopefully be getting Talks on it as we speak. I should have it within a few days!

Thank goodness for emails and great friends! What would I do without them!

I can’t wait to text again!

Save The Bees!

I wouldn’t normally post this sort of stuff, but I got this in an email and thought i’d post it. Remember to sign the petition!

Save the bees: 1 million by Friday
Petition exploding, almost 1 million — delivery to key international meeting on Friday. Forward to friends!

Dear friends,

Bees are dying off worldwide and our entire food chain is in peril. Scientists blame toxic pesticides and four European governments have already banned them. If we get the US and the EU to join the ban, other governments across the world could follow, and save bees from extinction. Sign the petition and forward this urgent appeal:

Silently, billions of bees are dying off and our entire food chain is in danger. Bees don’t just make honey, they are a giant, humble workforce, pollinating 90% of the plants we grow.

Multiple scientific studies blame one group of toxic pesticides for their rapid demise, and bee populations are recovering in countries where these products have been banned. But powerful chemical companies are lobbying hard to keep selling these poisons. Our best chance to save bees now is to push the US and EU to join the ban — their action is critical and will have a ripple effect on the rest of the world.

We have no time to lose — the debate is raging about what to do. This is not just about saving bees, this is about survival. Let’s build a giant global buzz calling for the EU and US to outlaw these killer chemicals and save our bees and our food. Sign the emergency petition now, and send it on to everyone and we’ll deliver it to key decision makers:

Bees are vital to life on earth — every year pollinating plants and crops with an estimated $40bn value, over one third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees many of our favourite fruits, vegetables, and nuts could vanish from our shelves.

Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations — some bee species are already extinct and last week we learned that some US species are at just 4% of their previous numbers. Scientists have been scrambling for answers. Some studies claim the decline may be due to a combination of factors including disease, habitat loss and toxic chemicals. But increasingly independent research has produced strong evidence blaming neonicotinoid pesticides. France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, have banned one of these bee killers. But, Bayer continues to export its poison across the world

This issue is now coming to the boil as major new studies have confirmed the scale of this problem. If we can get European and US decision-makers to take action, others will follow. It won’t be easy. A leaked document shows that the US Environmental Protection Agency knew about the pesticide’s dangers, but ignored them. The document says Bayer’s “highly toxic” product is a “major risk concern to non target insects [honey bees]”.

We need to make our voices heard to counter Bayer’s very strong influence on policy makers and scientists in both the US and the EU where they fund the studies and sit on policy bodies. The real experts — the beekeepers and farmers — want these deadly pesticides prohibited until and unless we have solid, independent studies that show they are safe. Let’s support them now. Sign the petition below, then forward this email:

We can no longer leave our delicate food chain in the hands of research run by the chemical companies and the regulators that are in their pockets. Banning this pesticide will move us closer to a world safe for ourselves and the other species we care about and depend on.

With hope,

Alex, Alice, Iain, David and all at Avaaz


Bee decline could be down to chemical cocktail interfering with brains

Bee briefing

$15 Billion Bee Murder Mystery Deepens

“Nicotine Bees” Population Restored With Neonicotinoids Ban

EPA memo reveals concern that pesticide causes bee deaths

Beekeepers want government to pull pesticide

Bees in freefall as study shows sharp US decline

Pesticide industry involvement in EU risk assessment puts survival of bees at stake

Vanishing of Bees provide details on the EPA leaked documents


Support the Avaaz community! We’re entirely funded by donations and receive no money from governments or corporations. Our dedicated team ensures even the smallest contributions go a long way — donate here.

——————————————————————————– is a 6.5-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 13 countries on 4 continents and operates in 14 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

To contact Avaaz, please do not reply to this email. Instead, write to us at or call us at +1-888-922-8229 (US).

Carnival’s Up!

Second Assistance dog blog carnival
(In which I contrebuted a post about all the decisions that go into applying for a guide dog), is now up over at
Blog. (I’m currently deciding if I shall read through the archives still, or just read more recent entries). The carnival was posted yesterday.

There are over 27 posts I think contrebuting!
Here’s the link
For you to check out! Enjoy!

I look forward to reading all the posts, and guys, remember to pay me a visit!

I can’t wait for the next one!

Todays Aftercare

Remember a few posts ago I told you that I was going to have aftercare last week but it was canceled? Well I had it today.

I was going to email my other instructor who is now back from training in England on Sunday, but decided not to. I got a phone call from the current instructor working with me to ask if today at 1 o’clock would be okay. It was.

This morning I decided to get up early after the morning routine, to give Ushi a good groom. Since it was such a nice day, I decided to do a walk before aftercare.

On the walk, I met my friend and her guide dog who were just heading home from doing some work. the two dogs were a little excited to see each other, but once we got them sitting and told them no, they were grand. Although my friends dog kept barking every so often lol. They left shortly after, and I went on my way.

There was a van parked shortly afterwards, and Ushi took me up a driveway to get past it, but decided to go into someone’s open front door! Some lovely ladies got me back on track though. I love nice people!

The rest of the walk was uneventful.

When we got back to the house, some men were working at our electric meter cupboard. Of course everything was left all over the place!

Shortly afterwards, my instructors rang me to let me know that they were ready for me. We agreed that I wouldn’t ask for help unless I needed them, and they would stay in their cars. They didn’t want Ushi to be distracted by them. Before we left, they asked if i wanted to do the walk since I had been out earlier! Of course I wanted to!

I set off with a little bounce in my step for some reason.

The walk went uneventful again. I was fully prepared as we went out of the shops that she was going to stop, but she didn’t at all! I was ready to curse her! Of course I was glad that she didn’t, but I wanted to show the instructors that she was doing it! She was a little distracted on the way home, and missed a couple of kerbs, but apart from that, she was grand! Maybe she just wanted to test me since she probably knew it was aftercare.

The instructors said that they were really pleased with me. They were pleased that I was able to handle her, and didn’t let her get away with anything. They said that compared to how she used to be when we first started that she has made massive improvements! I hadn’t noticed!

They said that her stopping was probably that she was bored. They are going to leave me a few months (I was hoping to learn trains this month, but we can’t have everything). Anyway they want me to head further into town, either with my dad first, then on my own. They said I could just go out of the shopping centre, and it’s practically straight down to the next shopping centre. So i’ll have to see how adventurous I am feeling. They said that her problem is that she can get bored of routes quite quickly. They are impressed at how good i am at solving problems too!

So hopefully we’ll find something to do route wise.

Oh and I also explained our down problem, and they say it’s just her being stubborn.

I was pleased with how today went. Happy days! And they wouldn’t be leaving me so long if they didn’t think i was ready.

She was a bit of an imp this morning though. I let her wonder around and do her business without me going down to the garden with her. She wouldn’t come up, so I went to investigate. She had a stick in her mouth and each time I went to grab it, she played chasies! I shouted at her for that and just went down with her afterwards.

We also had a bit of an incident last night while playing. My friend baught her a blanket that I think mentioned before. We sometimes would tug it a little. We were in the middle of this last night, when I got it off her, and she went to grab the blanket, but she caught my leg! I squealed, and the poor girl wouldn’t bother with me for like an hour afterwards! Poor woman! I hadn’t even corrected or anything.

So the aftercare was a great success I think. Just think, 3 months from now, i’ll be 7 months qualified! Wow!


Today on our walk out, some idiot had let his stray dog wonder around and distract Ushi.

It was raining a bit today, so I did a bit of obedience before we left the house (Ushi hates rain, so I was just experimenting). Well it seemed to work. She wasn’t dawdling along, as she often does when it’s raining. I thought “Good, that seemed to work”.

When I crossed our first road, however, things started to change. This dog kept wondering around in front of us, which made Ushi Hugely distracted. Usually when we meet another dog on our walks, I get Ushi up to a down kerb so that the person with the dog can pass, and I can correct her without blocking the path. I got her up to a down kerb and gave her a telling off for being distracted. We started to head off again, and what do we find, that stupid dog.

A man shortly came up behind me and tried to shoe it away so that we could carry on. It then decided to follow us on up, and darted across the road to where I was heading. I stood about to cross, and another kind man saw the dog, and went into his house to get a lead and collar from his house (luckily he had a dog!). I was going to head back home at this point, as I didn’t think the dog was going to move. A woman came up and explained that the dog had been put on a lead (I didn’t know this yet). She said that the dog was pigging and that it had no collar on at all. The woman then accompanied me across the road (I thought that she was going to assist me, so dropped the handle, then she was like “It’s okay to keep going” or something lol. The man explained that he had hold of the dog, and that he was going to phone the dog warden. I thanked him immensely and carried on my walk.

It sure did knock the old confidence a bit. I’m hoping that tomorrow it won’t be wondering about again!

Maybe this is just me, but I think it is highly irresponsible for dog owners to have dogs running around without a collar on. Number 1 i’m sure it’s hard for the dog to be tracked down, and number two, it scares the absolute shit out of you!

I don’t know what that dog was like. It could have gone for me or Ushi. Plus it could have been carrying any kind of nasties like worms, or something even worse.

Let’s hope we have a better walk tomorrow! These things are sent to try us though.

An Old Problem Resurfaced

Back at the start of my partnership with Ushi, we had a time where she was
Quite alot. Well we have taken a little step back.

I started being able to work Ushi again on Wednesday. I decided to do the route to the shops since we hadn’t done it in ages and ages. It went swimmingly. We made it to the coffee shop, and got out of the centre. When we got out of the shopping centre, Ushi started to stop. I had to really get onto her to get her going. I even asked someone if something was blocking the pavement, but there was nothing there. Some kind lady even offered me a lift as she knew i wasn’t getting very far. I thought that was nice, but just explained that Ushi was just being a bit of a pain in the arse really.

I did eventually get her going, andonce I had got her going, she was grand. She also kept trying to pull across me, but there was nothing there, and she didn’t seem too distracted or anything.

Yesterday I went a little further into town after the coffee shop, thinking that maybe she didn’t want to go home, and that did stop the stopping a bit, but she still did it.

So I think we’ve taken quite a step back. I’m going to mention yet again to the team when they come out for aftercare (it was to be last Monday, but because there was black ice, we decided not to risk it.). I also want to mention how she isn’t getting into a down on lead. She does it off lead, but not on the long lead. It’s quite strange. I even tried the other day getting her under a table, but she just decided to sit there.

At least the stopping isn’t as bad as last time though but I still want to know what the craic is with that street outside the shopping centre.

I can’t wait to learn how to use the train with Ushi. I feel now like i’m just doing routes for the sake of it. I don’t really have a purpose for doing them.

Before I go, check in with
Digital Darragh
He has started training with his second guide dog, Ike. He is on his first week. He is training in Kork. He has done so much already compared to what we did in the first week! Good luck to him though.

2nd Assistance Dog Blog Carnival:The Decision

Back in October, we had the
First Assistance dog blog carnival
Which seemed to be a great success. It’s time once again for the next carnival.
Is hosting this carnival. The theme for this post is “decision”. I thought i’d write the post in this post too, as by now you all should know what a carnival is. If you don’t, it’s basically a magazine about assistance dogs, and it’s done every couple of months. It has a theme, and posters have to stick to this theme. A blogger hosts it every month.
Here’s The post
Explaining more details about what is involved.

Now for the actual post….

I’m not sure where to go for this post. I’ll write something, and hopefully it will fit the theme. It is such a hard theme to write about.

The decision to apply for my first guide dog Ushi was quite a hard one. I knew I wanted a guide dog, but when the idea was put to me nearly three years ago now, it was a very scarey thought. I didn’t know how I would benifit from a guide dog, how to put the harness on, how I would know when the dog went to the toilet etc. I had so many questions for my rehabilitation worker. I’m sure I had him pestered!

I decided a few days later to actually officially apply, as when my rehab worker came out that night, it was just a suggestion, but I still had to officially apply. That was easy enough as I just had to phone my district team of my organisation. (Unlike America, we don’t have different guide dog schools, rather we have “The guide dogs for the blind association”. Each country has what are known as “district teams”, which basically are the team of people who will be responsible for training you with the likes of a long cane, before progressing to a guide dog and afterwards. We only have one team here in Northern Ireland, but in England, Scotland and Wales, there could be more than one.).

There are a number of stages that you have to go through before you find out if you will be put on a waiting list or not.

After I officially applied, my rehab worker came out about a week later, and did what is known as the “enquiry visit”. This is basically where you ask alot of questions, and find out more about what owning a guide dog could be like. I asked loads more questions lol.

After this, you have to undertake a “Mobility assessment” which is where my rehab worker assessed me with the cane and that, to see how good my mobility was. Some paper work has to be filled in such as a report from my rehab worker, and someone else who taught me mobility at one point, such as my social worker, and a form has to be filled in saying what landmarks I use and that sort of thing. That went grand too, which was good.

A few months later, a “guide dog mobility instructor” or GDMI came out to do what is called a “guide dog assessment”. This is where you are assessed to see how good your voice is, what your speed is like, and how good you would be at following the dog and such. You use what is known as a “short handle” for this part. This is basically where the instructor holds one end of a guide dog harness, and you hold the other. The assessment is a chance for you to see if you want to continue with the guide dog application, and some facts are filled in such as your height etc. They also ask about what kind of lifestyle you will be leading. With us we can withdraw our application at any time, no questions asked.

Sometimes the guide dog mobility instructor will want to do a “guide dog further assessment”, which you will have to do if the instructor wants to see how you will be with an actual dog. I wasn’t that strong with my voice, so the instructor wanted to see if being with an actual dog would be better. This only happens ocasionally. The dog was in training.

I was put on the waiting list after this point. I was then “suspended” for three months, since I was in the middle of my GCSE exams, so couldn’t miss them.

My decision to stay on the waiting list was a very hesitant one. Many a time I would sit and worry about
Something I was told by the instructor
Which was totally inocent, but I took it the wrong way, and turned it into a whole big thing in my mind. In case you haven’t gathered, i’m a bit of a worrier lol. I spent a year roughly worrying about what I had been told lol.

After 15 months later, my rehab worker told me that there was a guide dog mobility instructor in the area, and would I fancy a dog walk. I jumped at the chance. Within a week of that first introduction to Ushi, I was matched with her. The decision to stay on that waiting list was a worthwhile one! (By this point I wasn’t as worried).

During class, I was always wanting to know what we were doing next. I liked to be prepared and plan ahead. My instructor always said to me “just focus on what we are doing now”. The decision not to ask questions was a hard one!

Now 4 months later from when I was on class, (3 months after qualification), I don’t ask that many questions. I have more confidence in myself, and don’t lean on the instructors as much now. They are always there though if I need them which is good.

There are quite alot of decisions that you have to make on this journey to getting a guide dog. It can’t just be one decision.

I hope this post meets the theme for the carnival. The deadline for submissions is the 17th January. That is 8 days from now.

I will post nearer the time to remind you to get your posts in. Enjoy!

Introducing Sparkles

I wouldn’t normally do this, but one of you guys might know someone who might be able to help.

While reading the usual blogs, I came across a post about This cat on
Carlies Blog
She mentioned a woman who owns her own “private rescue” for dogs and cats. The woman has a little cat at the moment called
Sparkles lived with her brother until her brother got rehomed. Ever since her brother got rehomed, she has become very lonely. She hates being left alone, and whenever another human enters her inclosure, she goes straight for them and won’t leave their side. She doesn’t really get on with other cats though.

I think it would be great if this little cat got a home. What a nice present that would be for someone so soon after christmas?

So please spread the word, and i’m sure we can find a home for the cat in no time!