The Ballymena Show 2011

Today was the 2011
Ballymena show
This is an event every year where cattle are shown, but not sold. There are lots of farming things that happen, like tractors on display as well as show jumping and such. It is meant to be the second largest agricultural show in Northern Ireland, next to
Balmoral Show
In Belfast, but I don’t think it’s that good lol. (When you click on the link for the Ballymena show, there is a vidio of a person talking, but you should still be able to read each page).

This year Guide dogs had managed to get a stand at the show, so today I was going to be doing the 11 o’clock to 1 shift. Luckily enough, we had a big Gizeebo type thing which I mentioned briefly in
My last entry

So we were picked up by the treasurer of our fundraising branch. She drove us to the gate nearer our stand, whilst me, her son and another volunteer went in. (We had been given passes to enter the show for free because we were a charity i think). Again, getting out of the car I put Ushi’s halty on. This really seems to cut down on her pulling. I took it off as soon as we got to where we were going to be though.

Almost as soon as we got to where we were, we started to get people. Well I think they were from before we arrived.

We mostly had kids coming into see us, but there were a few adults. We were saying about how it costs £50,000 to support a guide dog throughout its working life right from it’s a puppy. One dude was that shocked that he got money out immediatly. We weren’t really intending to make him feel guilty or anything, but I think people should know how much it does cost for a guide dog, considering the organisation doesn’t get any government funding.

My friend came at about half 12, with her dog Della. They had a little play around, but then we had one on one side of my friend and Della on the other. They just sniffed after that.

We were just gabbing away when my friend told me about something called a
Furminator
I have heard of this product, but is it good? Can it be used with a zoom groom? It would be interesting to see one.

We finished shortly after that.

Unfortunately the Gizeebo was set up on concrete, so the rain kind of kept coming in. Ushi’s belly was kind of dirty then lol. She didn’t know what to make of the sheep though! Every time she heard one (they were behind us), she looked round as if to say “what’s that?”. The same as when a little girl blew bubbles in front of her lol.

It was a good day, and thank you again to the branch organiser for making it such good craic.


The Limavady Volunteering Event

Today was the volunteering event I told you I might be going to in
My Last Entry
My rehab worker picked me up at about 11 o’clock. We arrived at a place called Crumpets restaurant in Limavady where the volunteering event would be held, and had a quick lunch. I had scrambled eggs and toast. We then met the organiser of the Limavady branch. Lunch was nice, but i felt that there wasn’t that much room for Ushi under the table. It was like a bench thing. She just about had room. Oh well. We weren’t staying in the main restaurant for long though.

At about 1 o’clock, we went up stairs to what seemed like a big conference room thingie. We got set up, and were waiting for the volunteer coordinator to come down from Belfast.

While we were waiting, one of the guide dog owners I met at
The fundraising workshop
Down in Derry arrived with his guide dog Inis. (There was a street collection happening all day as well as the volunteer event which lasted from one til 5. I felt it was still too early in our partnership to do the street collection). Anyway this guide dog owner had done his two hours collecting, and had come up to where we were for his break. (We aren’t allowed to collect for more than two hours at a time as it’s not really fair on the dog, and the dogs need at least a 30 minute break to just chill). As soon as they had entered the room, Inis made a dive for Ushi. He then barked and growled a bit. Of course this made me really panick. His growl sounded really scarey. The owner then put a halty type thingie on his dog to calm him down a bit. I was really shaking. I felt like crying too. I know nothing probably would have happened, but it just sounded awful.

I don’t blame the guide dog owner at all. When we were chatting later on, he explained that Inis had never done that before, and that he didn’t like the growl at all either. He said the dog had done that to another dog too whilst collecting. He said he would ask the team. I explained that I knew it wasn’t his fault.

Unfortunately just as Inis had barked at Ushi, we were asked for a picture to promote the event. We were all going to take a picture outside. A volunteer had just come in too at this time, so she was bribed into getting her photo taken too.

So we all headed downstairs. Inis and his owner went down first, while I waited with my rehab worker and Ushi. He kept asking me if i was alright. I explained that I am still rather nervous about dogs when they bark and that, and just explained that because of the dog attack i still didn’t like hearing other dogs barking like that. I put Ushi’s halty on as well as her harness, just to make sure she didn’t pull or anything.

Once we went outside, there was a random woman who started saying “are you going to give me your paw?”. We were trying to walk at the time! I kept Ushi as far back from Inis as possible. The photo probably looked horrible since I looked pritty shakey still.

Me and Ushi went back in first. When Inis came in again, I stood up, and positioned her at the side of my chair. (It was an armchair type thingie). Inis and his owner sat about a chair away, and the volunteer coordinator sat between us. Ushi first of all seemed to shake a bit, but after she realised that Inis was away from her, just lay down and made herself comfortable.

My rehab worker took Ushi shortly after that to get her to busy as she hadn’t been all day. (she decided to hold in from about 11 til about three o’clock). He explained to me that she kept trying to get to his other side passing Inis, but afterwards was grand. It did start raining though, and Ushi just wanted to come back inside, apparently. The only reason I got my rehab worker to take Ushi out was that it was just outside the restaurant, and there were people out collecting in the street and that. He asked me first, and asked if i wanted to go or not.

By the time they came back up, the sun was shining. Ushi took a drink of her water, and just lay down where the sun was lol.

Shortly after that, it was time for my rehab worker, Inis and his owner to make their way down stairs again to do some more collecting. I was left with the volunteer coordinator and a few volunteers.

After a while, my rehab worker came back up again from collecting. This was followed by another guide dog owner and her guide dog Jumble. Ushi and Jumble decided to have a bit of a play. I had to get quite firm with Ushi, and I think one of the volunteers didn’t like it. I heard my rehab worker saying that we didn’t use physical corrections, but that I needed to be quite firm because of the type of personality Ushi has. I asked him later, and apparently she must have thought I was being violent towards Ushi which I would never do.

The other guide dog owner then went to do some collecting. That was basically the whole day.

On our way home, we stopped off at the organiser of the Limavady branches house to pick up a Gizeebo which we need for the Ballymena show next week which i’m going to. We let Ushi run around her back yard as it was enclosed. She even braught out a toy for her to play with, which we all played with for a while. She was going to throw a rugby ball which she has, but I said that I didn’t want Ushi having balls as guide dogs aren’t allowed them. She boards guide dogs you see, and explained that some of the guide dogs she boards are allowed balls.

That was basically it for the day. We headed home after that.

Oh I found out that the collectors raised £429 and we got 7 new volunteers! Well done all!


Talking Guide Dogs

Last night, my rehab worker rang me to see if I wanted to attend a talk with him today. He was doing it for the RNIB down in Colleraine. I said yeah i would. He was going to ask another guide dog owner, but she hasn’t been too well lately, so he asked me instead.

Before I get to today though, the past couple of days have been rather weird.

On Monday I was going to my quilting course as usual. It was windy but it wasn’t raining thankfully. We got to about the second house, when Ushi stopped. There was a car in front of us, but this was a wee bit back from the car. I had to get really firm with her, and eventually she did go, but it just took a hell of alot of time before she went. She hasn’t stopped like this in ages. Once we got by the car she was grand.

On the way back from town she was grand and walked past it.

I got my sister and dad to come with me for my second walk to see what the problem was. Again the same thing happened. She had passed this particular car loads of times so i don’t know what the problem was. It was just at that one car.

Yesterday I tried experimenting a little. Instead of going straight up to the kerb outside our house like i’d usually do, I just turned right at the end of our driveway to see if that helped. I also gave her a treat at the end of the first corner. I hardly ever give her treats on our walks, but thought she might need a little incentive to go forward. That worked a treat! She worked like a little angel! I even had an opportunity to do some educating!

There is this pathway that is like a shorter version of the church route. It cuts a big chunk out of it but still makes it a decent route. I was only doing this way as i didn’t want to do a the full thing. A family were coming out of where I was going. I thought maybe they had a dog with them (who knows why), so stopped to let them past. The father/grandad was chatting away to me, and saying about how he’d seen me going up and down the road. He had kids with him. I asked if the kids would like to pet the dog, and explained that you must always ask a guide dog owner before petting. They seemed interested, but didn’t rush up to pet the dog or anything which was good. They left shortly after that, but I thought it was good.

Unfortunately on our second walk of the day though we ran into a bit of a problem. We had just done the church route, but I wanted to do a little extra path my sister had shown me which eventually took me onto my block route home. We were about to do it when I heard two dogs fighting. They were apparently across the road, but i thought they were just up ahead. My sister said it was a wee stray dog that was fighting with another dog on its lead. As soon as I heard the tell tail signs, I turned and headed straight home. Luckily we were a bit away from them, but i deffinetly wasn’t going to risk Ushi getting caught up in it. I hope the poor wee thing was okay.

Part of me just feels rather silly the way i react to other dogs, but i really don’t want Ushi going through such a horrible thing as before.

Anyway on to today….

My rehab worker was going to be collecting me at about half 12, so I decided to do a walk before chilling for a while. I just did a short walk, as I wasn’t sure if the little dog from last night was still around. Again though we had no stops, and she walked me around lots of bins and such. Normally she sort of will stand at a bin sometimes as if to say “what do you want me to do about it?”. So it was a good if short walk.

We came back and chilled for a while then until my rehab worker came to collect me.

I decided to experiment with something. I’m not sure if i’ve mentioned this, but whenever Ushi would get out of a car, she would pull quite a bit. It would be quite bad until we sat down somewhere. I thought it wasn’t fair on people guiding me, and i also felt that it probably didn’t look that good when the guide dog was pulling. So I slipped the Halty on. I then took her to spend and once I took the halty off, there was no pulling at all! So maybe putting the halty on before getting out of the car is good? The only problem would be if she was in the boot of a car. I don’t know what i’d do then. I suppose before we set off i could stick it on at least until i’d spent her? She doesn’t seem to pull on trains or busses. Not that i’ve noticed anyway!

The RNIB had a spending pen! I didn’t put Ushi in it though as i knew she wouldn’t use it. I was a bit disappointed though since i thought that I may as well have used it since it was there, but I knew Ushi wouldn’t use it so just used grass instead. How typical though that it was available though but she would just have to be awkward and not like going on concrete!

We got settled in on a nice comfy sofa lol. It was just a very informal talk really. Ushi settled almost straight away which was good.

There were about 20 people there in the group. They were all quite elderly and were mostly newly diagnosed as blind or partially sighted.

My rehab worker first of all talked about the myths about owning a guide dog, and tried to dispell them. He also talked about things like the enquiry visit and stuff that you will have if you apply for a guide dog.

Next, he passed over to me. I hadn’t prepared anything, so just said basically that I didn’t know where to start, and that I would just go with the flow. I talked about when I applied, that there were different stages of the guide dog application, and when I got matched with Ushi. I told them what a difference she has made, but ran out of what to say then lol.

The floor was then opened up for questions.

One person came over and i said he could pet the dog if they wanted. They didn’t really like dogs, so I just talked to him and said that you must ask always before petting a dog.

What happened next was quite weird. I understand if the woman was scared of dogs, but I don’t know if she was or not. Anyway she came over and was like “he is lovely” and all. I said that actually she was a she and then the woman was like “It’s not nice for ladies to lick people” or something then she went over and very quickly washed her hands. I don’t know what was up. I never said anything to her, but it did seem a little weird. I mean if you put your hand down to a dog will it not lick you? Who knows.

Our talk lasted for about half an hour. We didn’t have to rush off, so we stayed for another talk by the
Talking Newspaper For Colleraine
They talked about basically what was on the CDS, and that they would provide a CD player and all if you didn’t happen to have one.

We went home after that. It was a good afternoon.

On Friday I might be going to a volunteer event. There is a street collection in Limavady although i said i wasn’t going because i feel it’s too soon to be doing street collections, but I said i would be happy to sit in a coffee shop and encourage volunteers lol.

So if I do go up, i will probably bring something along with me until the event at 1 o’clock. There will be other guide dog owners there too.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

I’m pleased with how the talk went though. I’m sure over time i won’t need to prepare anything.


Backing Up Blogger

Over the last few days, Blogger has decided to have some major issues. I think it was about Thursday when it started.

I first noticed it when i went to log into my dashboard to check up on my blogs i’m following. It said that it was “currently not available” or something like that. A few hours later I went to check if
My last post
Had got any more comments. It had disappeared! I was really disappointed, so asked on Twitter, and apparently lots of people were having the same problem. It came back yesterday, but there were no comments on the post. (I had comments before).

I thought it was time I maybe backed up my blog in case it happened again. (My posts aren’t that important, but I would want them to look back on and that). So after searching on google for “Backing up blogger”, I came across
This Article
Which had some tips on how to back up your blog, including a
Handy Tool
That will back up your blog for you. You basically type in your blogs URL and it goes and fetches it, then saves it. You can then view it like an online website, but it is the exact back up of your blog. The download link is
Here
(There is a tool for Macs too on the page with the article).

Using The Win HT Track Website Coppier

I won’t go into how to install the application, because you all probably know how to do it, but i’ll go through how to submit your blog. Here goes:

1. Once you install the program, it will start automatically. When it starts it says “Win Ht Track Website Copier- [new project one]”. It then has a “next” button. Basically the message on the screen says to press “next” to continue. (You will need the JAWS cursor to read the blurb for each step). Press Enter on the “Next” button. (Tab to get to it if you’re not already there).

2. Once you click “Next” an “edit combo” box will come up. This is the “project name” field. I just typed in “My blog”. Press Tab once and you’ll come to the “project catigry” box. I just wrot “Blog”. Tab until you get to “Next” again.

3. There is an “Edit” box but i don’t know what this is for. Tab once and you’ll get to the “Action” combo box. This is where you can choose from a number of actions. (If you are starting a new project it will select the “download website” option, but if you are resuming a download, it will choose a different option so you don’t really need to bother with this box). If you Tab again there is a “Add URL” button, but just ignore this. Tab until you get to the “URL list” and type in your blog. Then Tab until you get to “Next” again.

4. This last step has loads of stuff you don’t need, so just tab until you get to the “finish” button and press Enter. Your blog will then be copied onto your computer. The default location is “My websites” but you’ll have to search.

Once the blog has copied it will then let you “view” it.

I hope this is easy enough to understand. If not, please do let me know. It’s my first time trying it, so i’m just going on what I did. I think it is worth backing up the blog every once in a while though!


Ushi And The Rain

Over the last couple of days we’ve had loads and loads of rain.

Ushi never used to be a fan of rain, and would dawdle along, trying to go into every driveway until we got out of our estate. Then she would just get on with the journey. I had to allow an extra 10 minutes to our journey when it was raining, to allow for her dawdles. I could handle this. I just told her to “get on with it!” a few times in a firm voice and eventually she got the picture. That was until today.

On Monday night we were about to go on our walk, when it started to rain really heavily as well as some thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure. I spent Ushi anyway thinking that she would be grand. She came in, and I got her harnessed up. We got to the top of our path before it started to thunder. We went into get better coats, and went out again. We got to the top of the path before we had a stop and lots of trembling from Ushi. I tried to get her going again before I thought that it just wasn’t worth it. So we turned and just went back into the house. She went up stairs as normal, and her tail was wagging. She was quite alert whenever there was more thunder, but then she just went off to her bed, not bothered. She didn’t tremble for the rest of the time that there was thunder.

When we were out, I just got to the top of our path which isn’t that long, and I only tried to get her to go twice before I noticed she was trembling and took her back inside.

She was grand the rest of the night and didn’t care about the thunder outside.

When it was time for her last spend of the night, it decided to chuck it down again. Ushi just stood there, then went out to the hall and just stood there. I tried to get our pet dog to go out to see if Ushi would follow her, but she didn’t. I stood trying to persuade her, before going and getting her lead and a treat. (I don’t use the lead now for spending, and just let her go out on her own). I attached her lead, and she really dug her heels in. I had to drag her practically and actually go out with her, as well as bribe her with a treat for her to actually go out. She came back in very quickly! I wasn’t sure if she had actually done anything though, so when the rain finally stopped i let her out again to make sure she had gone.

Yesterday it was just windy really and we managed to miss the showers which was good.

Today however was a different story. We walked grand to the quilting which was today instead of the usual monday. Well she almost did. She was very distracted at one point, and I thought there was someone with a dog or something as it was that kind of distraction. I don’t know if it was a dog or if it was just her. Then just as we were about to head into the shopping centre where I quilt, she got very bouncey, and not the “oh i’m excited about going somewhere new” kind of bounce. Then this woman was like “Hello boy”, which made her really exciteable which isn’t really like her. She will usually just wag her tail, but this was like she used to do in the early days. (She used to jump whenever someone ran up to us, for example). I just said to the woman if they could please not pet her as she was working, and the woman just walked off. (I thought that was pritty good of me cause I usually just can’t manage to say not to pet her). She was grand when we got into the shopping centre though!

On the way home it was a huge stop when we were trying to get out of the door of the shopping centre. There was nothing there, but I eventually got sighted assistance and got out of the door in the end as we had wondered on a bit as i thought maybe there was a way around the obsticle I thought was there. Then it was another stop, and after a while we got her going again. It was another stop further on down the street, and then at the point where she got distracted this morning by the possible non existent dog, she stopped dead. This was just as the heavens decided to open! As soon as the drops hit her, she kept backing up a little. I tried to even do an “sit/wait” to see if that would maybe focus her, but she would not go and hung her head and her tail was down. Being firm wasn’t working, so I tried being positive and eventually she decided to go! She then wouldn’t go forward if we had to cross roads after cars had driven past. I had to step out in the road when it was quiet to get her gonig, but she was going to stop again in the middle of the road, but I just got on to her and she kept going. It seemed to be when the cars sprayed the water they had driven through all over the road she was reluctant to move.

She has never done this before, and usually once I get her going she will keep going. But today was the worst she has been. (There wasn’t even any thunder).

So I don’t know what’s up. I think she doesn’t like water on her paws. Well I would presume not as she will do anything in her power not to walk through puddles, for example.

It was bareable when she would dawdle at the start of our route, because then I knew I just had to persevere and she would eventually go. But today wasn’t good at all. This has been the heaviest rain we’ve had and that she’s been used to though. When I got her, we had one really bad day on class, and mostly it was just drizzles since then. It hasn’t chucked it down before now.

When my Guide dog mobility instructor had Ushi for her advanced training last year it was during the summer, so we didn’t have that much rain, so she wasn’t used to Ushi being so stubborn about it.

I want to know what to do about it though. I mean we can’t just not work in case it rains, or just get a taxi home when it does rain. If we’re out and we get caught in a shower, we will just have to keep going. Was I maybe not firm enough/positive enough? Is there anything I can do if she is going to be like this from now on when it rains? (It’s going to be a long frustrating summer if this is going to be what she will do when it rains heavily).

My friend suggested I should get a rain coat for her lol, but that wouldn’t protect the princess paws.

Have any of you ever had a dog who hates the rain? I think the district team won’t know anything much to do apart from maybe being more firm or positive, but knowing me she would be an angel when they came out! (She was
Last time
When I mentioned that she was stopping again).

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. I don’t want to get soaked when it rains, and would like to get home at some point!


More New Blogs

I was recently just browsing through
Our guide dogs facebook page
As one does, when I came across a new blog.
Kevin And His Dog Immagin
Are just starting out on their guide dog journey. In fact, he is only on his second day of training. The best thing is he is local! I think he would really appreciate some support on his journey with his first dog :).

The other blog isn’t local, but she is from the UK.
Mel Spooner
Is on her second or third guide dog, but her entries are quite informative.

I just thought i’d share these!


Another Carnival

The
Third Assistance Dog Blog Carnival
Has been posted. That link will hopefully take you to the post I wrote for this edition.

This months host was
The Trouble is….
You can
Check out the other submissions
Here. I hope you enjoy! I’m surprised we haven’t ran out of topics yet!