2nd Assistance Dog Blog Carnival:The DecisionPosted: January 9, 2011 | |
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!