This Time Last Year…The Work Begins

I’m actually finding this harder than I thought lol. I’m only on the second day! I’m just not used to writing every day.

Thank you all for wishing my brother well in yesterdays post. During the night he started to have little spasms in his leg, but the doctors say it is normal. Mum went up this morning to be with him. Unfortunately during the night, his leg must have slipped inside the splint because this morning they had to reset it but they couldn’t give him pain relief as they needed to do it as soon as possible. So now his leg is actually tied to the bed. Apart from not being able to move he is apparently in good form, and is chatting away to everyone.

Anyway onto the main part of this post.

Today last year was

the day we got our dogs

And the work really began. We spent the morning building up our harnesses, practicing obedience on the lead, and then it was time for our dogs.

We basically spent the first day bonding with our dogs. I was so worried in case i did anything wrong, and I didn’t want anything to affect our training together.

We had to learn what is called “House obedience” with our dogs which was basically teaching them to wait at doors and such, and that you always are the one who makes the call. This is to stop them rushing out a door, and shows that you are the boss. I still get Ushi to wait first of all at our stairgate if it is closed. I will say “Right up to the gate Ushi”, then I will tap it if she is taking her time, then she will sit. I will then get her to Wait while I open it, then say “On down you go”. She will usually wait at the landing until i come down, then plod into the kitchen, for example. I will again get her to go up to the back door, where she will then sit until i open it. I also get her to do it at our front door and sometimes the bedroom door.

Ushi took ages to go into a down, which is basically where the dog will lie down. This is really useful for if you are in a restaurant, on a bus, eating, basically anything where you want the dog to lie down. Ushi still will take ages to do a down when i’m doing an obedience with her, unless she sees the purpose, like if we’re sitting down or whatever. She will do it fabulously when we’re out, but not when i want her to do it in the house on a long lead. I have had to get very creative with getting her to do it.

I hated the feel of Ushi’s food when we first started feeding them. It felt all horrible and greasy. It kind of smelled horrible too. Now i don’t really mind it though. I had to keep checking that I had the food measured correctly. I still have the tins i use for feeding her lol.

To feed the dogs, we measure out eh food, put it in their food bowl, get the dogs to sit, and blow a whistle three times which signals that it is food time. We also blow the whistle three times for the dog to come back on a free run as they know they will usually get something for coming back. I’ll explain what a free run is later in the week.

Ushi was a total madam in the spending department that night. Spending is basically the dog going to the toilet. To get them to do their thing, you have to say “busy, busy”. I was so scared in case that slipped out and the dog dropped it’s load, but you do it a couple of times. It took me and my instructor a good 20 minutes at least to get her to go! (She didn’t actually do a solid spend for me until the third day!). She will still be a little stubborn, but unless i really need her to go, i’ll just let her hold on.

So that was our first day with the dogs. I really can’t believe how quickly the last year has gone! I keep forgetting that it is a different day than last year, like it was a Tuesday last year, and it took me until the Friday to write that entry. I nearly forgot to post the link to last years post! We couldn’t have that! You all wouldn’t be able to look back then! Oops.

I hope that i’ll be more motivated to get these posts written over the next couple of days! I’ll let you know more news on my brother as soon as I get it. Keep him in your thoughts though!

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Thank You

I would first like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has wished me and my sister a happy birthday. We are 21 today.

I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary as presents. I deffinetly got a shock though at some of the things I got!

Because a couple of friends got me things, i’m just gonna use the first letter of their names for anonimity. On Saturday night, it was my friend j’s birthday. She was heading out for a meal but dropped my present off first on the way. She got me and my sister a box of Thorntons chocolate, two decorative shampaigne glasses which say 21 on them I think with glittery flowers, and a bottle of Shampaigne! We haven’t opened it yet, but my friend L is having a bit of a bash on Saturday night, so I might bring that with me! I thought it was a lovely lovely thought :).

I met up with my friend P today since i hadn’t seen him for ages and ages because he has started a new job. We met up in

The same place where I met Jeniffer

Before our free run that day.

Anyway P and I had a good catch up, and he gave me a bottle of perfume called “Handsome Darling” by Kylie Minogue, and a box of Milk Tray chocolates.

Dad got me my new Dell laptop but i got that a couple of weeks ago. Mum is giving me money and getting something engraved or something.

On a side note, my little 2 year old brother was at the park when we were out in Belfast. (He didn’t come but stayed with mum). There is one of those swirly slides in the park where he was. Mumm took him down the slide and he banged it off the side of it. Mum took him up to hospital and he has a broken Feemer. They have put his leg in a splint and are keeping him in for a week to make sure the bone is healing well enough. The good news is that he doesn’t need surgery or anything. They will put a cast on once the bone has started to set. He is settled and comfy as long as his leg won’t be touched.

So it wasn’t sucha nice day for him.

Anyway, once we got back from Belfast, our next door neighbour called at the door. Apparently there was a bunch of flowers which had been left when we were out. I also got a card too. The organiser of our fundraising branch had asked for my date of birth as she was looking for it for her records. She had had a chat with the other members, and had got me a huge bunch of flowers, along with a a stuffed puppy toy. Ushi was quite taken with the toy and thought it was hers lol.

Thank you so so so so much for everything you have got me. It was so nice, and I wasn’t expecting half as much! I loved all my presents.

You guys are all awesome! I’m off to bed now, but thank you so much for a wonderful birthday, even if it had some sadness with regards to my little brother. It was still a brilliant day though! Thank you!


This Time Last Year…Settling In

I’ve got two posts for you today. I was going to post them both separately, but figured they would probably be better in one post. This will prob be a long one though.

First of all, we have

This Post

Where the nerves/worrying/excitement kicked in all at once. I was so worried in case i didn’t remember anything. Plus i was worrying in case it wasn’t the right thing for me. I found it hard to sleep that night as i’d written that post before i went to bed.

My next post

Was written later that day, after I had settled in. I remember how worried i still was, and how i was worried when i was told that i needed to not use my cane as we wouldn’t be using it with our dogs. (I only used it for going to and from the restaurants during class as that was alright).

During dinner that night, my instructor who stayed the first night said that i could have Ushi for about half an hour after I ate. (The instructors usually stay the first couple of nights on class just to make sure we’re all comfy). My instructor had braught ushi in, and then left the room. Little Ushi started to pace and whine before lying under one of the tables we had in our rooms. I didn’t want to stand on Ushi, so crawled around the floor looking for her! She actually spent most of her down time under that table lol. I phoned mum and said i couldn’t find Ushi because she was under the table and i didn’t know where she was!

I thought it was nice that at dinner the waitor put a candle in my dessert as they had found out it was my birthday!

Tomorrow we met the dogs again, and the real work begun! Looking back on these entries is so good. What would we do without blogs!

I’ll write about my birthday soon. Sorry this is so long!


This Time Last Year…The Hotel

This time last year, i’d have probably just got home from

Learning my way around

The

Lamon Hotel

Which was where my guide dog class was held. It is a really nice hotel, and I found it really easy to learn where everything was.

On the way back, we had popped into the guide dog office where I was asked to do a blog for

The facebook page

I really enjoyed doing that, as i felt it might help some applicants on the page. I also got to see little Ushi again which was cool.

I really can’t believe how quickly time has flown. Last year i worried in case it didn’t work out between us, but I think it has.

It was sad in a way since i thought i wouldn’t see my rehab worker again. I know i probably shouldn’t have, but i baught him a cake to say thanks for the 7 years i had him. I still do see him now and again for talks and things but the only difference is that he isn’t working with me any more.

I hope over the next few weeks you’ll follow me as I recapp last year, and share how i felt then to now. I hope i don’t bore you! There will probably be two posts on Tuesday:one before and the first day of class. I hope you’ll enjoy!

On the subject of guide dogs, don’t forget to follow Kerie over at

GDOs unleashed

Where she is just going through her training with her second dog Yale. They seem to be getting on great.


Day With The Donkeys

Last week, the woman who teaches me the

Quilting

Got given a leaflet by her daughter. Her daughter runs a summer scheme for disabled children and one of the parents had given her a leaflet about the

Elisabeth svendsen trust

Which is a charity set up in memory of a ladies name i’m not even going to pronounce. Her first name was Elisabeth. It provides donkeys for disabled children to ride, sort of like therapy for them. This branch of the trust were going to run a coffee morning and fun day today. I think this lady might also have been part of

The donkey sanctuary

In devon. They rescue donkeys.

Anyway… at about half 10 this morning, the woman from the quilting class, her daughter, and her daughters 15 month old child headed off to the place where this particular branch of the trust was. When we got there, there were apparently lots of donkeys out in the fields surounding the main building. We all headed into like a big shed type place. There were two pens set up with two donkeys in them. We went over and I asked if we could pet them. They said yes.

The first donkey was called “Susie”. She was quite small, and had just been clipped. I think she was grey with a silver belly. She felt slightly bigger than Ushi, and her back seemed to slope down so it felt like she was sitting when she was standing. Her head seemed much too big for her body though, and she had big ears that were a bit like someone had shoved cardboard in them and covered them with fur. She was quite cute, and kept coming up for attention.

One of the women who helped organise it said that Susie was 7 years old. I asked if the donkeys wore shoes, and apparently they don’t, because their hooves are much stronger than horses, and they were more square shaped. Apparently the charity has welfare officers who will rescue the donkeys if they are being neglected or have been abandoned. They are taken to a place in Strabane (in Northern Ireland but not sure where), where they are treated for any medical problems and weighed etc, before they are braught to Belfast. They would then be trained for kids to ride them. Apparently before a kid can even ride them, the donkeys have to get used to things being dropped and stuff, as apparently they throw things and play games and stuff. I think they have 7 or 8 trained up at the moment. They have belts and things to keep kids upright who maybe couldn’t support themselves. They also have two members of staff at either side of them when riding.

There is a weight limmit for the donkeys though as they are so small. A kid can only be 8 stone, but kids heavier than that, or those who can’t get out of their wheelchairs can ride in a cart which one of the donkeys can pull.

Susie the donkey was

One of the donkeys

Up for adoption. It was £16 a year. A little kid came up and said “Mum says we have to adopt this donkey!”. I think he thought the donkey would be coming home with him.

The other donkey was much more hairy, and was called Benjie. He wasn’t as interested in attention though.

At the centre they also have an areena for riding, a “sensory room” is also available for the kids to use.

There was also bouncey castles, face painters, craft stalls, a raffle, and a gift shop selling toy donkeys and things. We headed off to get a cup of tea.

At one point while I was about to drink my tea, i felt this mighty splash and there was tea all over the table. Apparently a little boy had thrown a toy car across the room. His mother came up and appologised. Apparently the kid really liked water. He had no concept of hot or cold though. Luckily the table got most of it, and it wasn’t scorching hot. I’d say it could be quite dangerous with a child like that. It must have been something to do with his particular disability.

We left for home after that.

I hadn’t taken Ushi with me as I thought there would be more donkeys and i thought alot of it would be outside. I didn’t think the donkeys would be too happy with a dog. At the same time I probably could have taken her since there were only two donkeys, and they were in pens. I was a little disappointed. Maybe i was expecting too much, but I thought there would be rides and that. I suppose they had to start with something small, since they are only open since June this year.

It was a day out though, and none of us knew what to expect really. Maybe if i go to something similar I might take Ushi. Who knows.


Angel Eyes NI Sponsored Walk And Picnic

I got an email the other day from my rehab worker asking if I would like to go to a sponsored walk and picnic today. (The woman who asked my rehab worker if i would like to go didn’t have my email so asked him to ask me). We met her before at the

Clown Doctors thing

Back in February. I said I would go but after replying to the email I remembered something I needed to check on.

Whenever we qualify with our dogs, we sign a document called the “Guide dog owner agreement”, and pay 50 pence to the association. This 50 pence is all we are required to pay, but we can pay for vet and feeding costs if we want. It means the dog is now ours. The agreement basically is a legal document that says that we mustn’t use our dogs in dog shows, and that we will be responsible for the dog and such. There is one part that says that if we are fundraising for another charity we must have the dogs behind us or something. I emailed my instructor to see if i could still do the walk, and she said that if we were collecting for another charity we would have to have the dogs harness off, but if we are just going to support another charity then there is no problem and we can go on ahead. So that was great news.

So this morning i decided to work Ushi before we went on the walk. I usually find that if i don’t work her at all, she is usually much more hyper. Plus I find that working her after a fundraiser is just not going to happen as she usually sleeps for most of the day afterwords. I’ve noticed that recently though she has become much more sniffy over the past couple of days. It’s usually things she wouldn’t normally sniff like cars and that. Maybe it’s because it’s coming into Autumn or maybe it’s just Ushi.

So my rehab worker came to collect me at about a quarter to 11. The place where we were doing the walk was only about 5 minutes away. The walk was organised by the charity

Angel eyes northern ireland

Who are a charity that support parents of blind and partially sighted children in northern ireland. It is made up by parents. They organise away days as well as education days and such for parent and kids.

When we got to the place where we were meeting, we first let Ushi spend, then sat chatting for a while before we got started. There was a crossword and a map for the kids, but you could just do the walk on its own.

Ushi was a little excited because it was a new place, so she pulled a bit on the lead, but it was manageable. When we got a little around the walk, my rehab worker asked if i would like to work her with him directing me where to go. I said yes and explained that she wouldn’t walk at her normal speed because it was a new place. He asked me if I felt working her would be a good idea, but I said that I may as well use her since i had her. Ushi worked wonderfully. Her tail was wagging the whole time, and she seemed to be having a great time. We even went over a bridge over a river and we had no spends, and she didn’t even give the water a second glance. She did however sniff a spending bin just off that bridge though. Her confidence did start to become a bit shakey at some points though, mostly when there was no one she could follow. So my rehab worker went in front and she soon started to step out again. She did keep insisting that she needed to go on the grass at one point, so I took her harness off and she promptly flooded the grass. She was grand after that, and we headed back for the picnic.

Ushi was a star then too. She did find a stick at one point and did have a a bit of a sniff, but apart from that she just chilled. None of the kids wanted to feed her either which was great.

There were about 12 of us all together including the kids. It was a great day.

I was expecting Ushi to be a complete nightmare as she loves kids, but she was grand.

I will probably get involved with any more events that are being organised.

It was a great day and the weather was gorgious!.

Oh before I go, I would like to wish

Kery

Good luck with training for her second guide dog on Monday. She doesn’t update her blog any more I don’t think, but she will be posting alot on a website called

GDOS Unleashed

Over the next couple of weeks. I really hope it goes well for her and that it works out this time. I remember how much it helped getting support last year. So do give a listen to her recordings when she posts them. I’m sure she’d appreciate it!


Scotland:Not What We Thought

I’m writing this today as I was totally shattered when I got home last night. I’ll not bother backdating it.

It was a very early start yesterday morning. I got up at four o’clock. I was only going to feed Ushi half her food then give her the other half when we arrived, but I decided since i got up so early I would chance giving her the full meal.

We were all ready for a quarter to 6, where the taxi came to pick us up. Dad was already in the front, so I sat in the back with Ushi. She was a bit hesitant to get in, but that was because she is used to being in the front. We got her in though, and she was reasonably comfy. My sister had to shift her legs at one point as she wanted to lie down.

We got to the belfast docs at around a quarter to 7. I put Ushi’s halty on getting out of the taxi since she is still quite pully getting out of cars. I kept it on until we got into the building, bu should have kept it on longer as she was very pully still. I then was fumbling that much to put it on that I ended up twisting it! Anyway the check in was surprisingly short. We just had to go up to the desk and that was basically it. I was expecting us to get searched and stuff.

When we were checking in, the staff said to us that there were alot of steps on the gangway. I thought they were just saying this because they were under the assumption that I couldn’t use steps, but they said they were metal. Ushi doesn’t like walking on metal at all. They said that they could arrange for a bus to come and collect us to take us to the boat. I said that that would probably be better after explaining that Ushi didn’t like metal, and they said they would come get us when it was ready. So we all headed off to the departure lounge.

I thought that it was probably like a ramp thing they would have, but when they came to collect us, there was like a shuttle bus you get at airports waiting for us. It is for elderly and disabled, as well as people with buggies and people with alot of luggage. I thought this was pritty cool. It took us right onto the car decks of the boat, where we were accompanied up to the main floor where everything was. When we were heading to the lift, the guy taking us kept telling us about little raised lumps that were used to keep the boat together i think. His colleague went to pet Ushi and the guy was like “You shouldn’t pet him, he’s working!”. He then explained that once the lift stopped that we got into, that the restaurant was on our left and the coffee shop was on our right. I thought that was nice.

We explored around a little first. There was nothing really in the shopping part of it, so we went outside onto the deck where the sun was shining. I kept expecting ushi to spend here since if we’re near water she needs to go for some reason, but she was a wee star and didn’t go at all. We then went down to the restaurant to get something to eat about half way through the journey. The restaurant was packed. Some of the other custumers were really nasty, and braught up their plates and just seemed to be very ignorant from what I heard.

The rest of the journey was just spent sitting around really. I wish i had braught something to occupy me, but I didn’t think at the time, and thought i’d be alright.

Eventually at about half 10, we arrived in Stranraer. Everyone else got off first, and we got the bus back off the boat. I really liked how helpful they were. I wasn’t sure if they were just being helpful cause we were all together, but I doubt they would be that bad. I was very impressed!

The first thing we did when we got off the boat was to look for somewhere to spend Ushi since she hadn’t spent since before we left home. (there was nowhere i could spend her at the docs).

Stranraer is sort of like a housing estate. I mean that it was very quiet and there was basically only one street. I think we were expecting much more. We did find a little park with a little beach where we spent most of our time. Ushi kept whining to get onto the beach because she saw other dogs. She doesn’t normally do that when we’re walking, but we were standing around alot since my sis wanted to take alot of pictures. We took her on to the beach and it wasn’t long before she wanted to get back onto solid ground.

There was one woman who came up to us who had a little puppy running around. I don’t know if she said this to her puppy or me, but i think it was to me. Ushi of course got excited seeing the pup and wanted to play. The woman then said “You should be better behaved than that” or something. I just said that although i had her harness on she wasn’t working. (I was just holding her lead with her harness on her back). For some reason that comment really annoyed me. I know that Ushi shouldn’t have tried to play with the dog, but you can’t fully stop a dog wanting to say hello to another dog. You can try, but at the end of the day, Ushi is still a dog. She just happens to be one that guides. What do you all think?

There was one part of the park that had a little train that went round it, but it wasn’t running yet. Another part of the park had a little man made lake with a pirate ship and a little you could go out to. You could also hire peddle boats. We were going to have a little fun on them, but decided not to. (Dad would have looked after Ushi).

We then went around the “town” part which was quite small. We then came back to the park.

At about three o’clock we went around the street again. (We had finished at about one o’clock so waited until then before going round again in case there was something we had missed). Unfortunately there wasn’t.

We headed back to the park again where we chilled before I fed Ushi. I was going to leav her until we got back to Belfast, but didn’t think we would have the time, and I didn’t want to leave her until we got home as it would have been about 10 o’clock and I thought that would be much too late. I stretched out ushi’s lead so she could eat in a bit of comfort. (I wasn’t going to let her off her lead to eat as we were still in the park). She did grand though and chilled after I spent her which was just what i wanted her to do since I don’t like her getting excited/having alot of exercise for an hour after food. (We were told to keep our dogs calm for at least an hour after food to stop them developing a twisted stomach).

At about a quarter to 5, we headed over to the docs again. We had to ask again for the bus but we didn’t mind that. While we were waiting though Ushi was getting a bit bored since we were just standing around. She kept wondering around me but eventually lay down. We then waited in the departure lounge again, until the staff came and got us for the bus.

Again the bus took us right onto the boat. It was a different boat going back. On the way to Stranraer it was a boat called

The Stena Navigator

But on the way back it was a boat called the

<a href="

http://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferry/our-ships/stena-caledonia/”>Stena Caledonia

This ship seemed much posher and newer. The navigator was good, but this one didn’t seem as crowded and had a much nicer atmosphere. We had our dinner on the ship too. I had fish and chips. When your order was ready to be collected, they buzzed a little box on your table. It was nice to sit and eat in a relaxed atmosphere.

Ushi went straight to sleep. I had a wonder around and gave ushi to my sister but she didn’t even stirr when I came back.

When we were heading off the boat to get the bus, we were mobbed by about 10 little kids asking “Can i pet your dog?” I said they all could since they had asked. (Thank you parents!). Ushi must have thought all of her christmases had come at once because she was getting so much attention! Her tail never stopped wagging! We eventually said we had to go though.

We were orriginally going to get the train back home, but decided to just get a taxi. We got home about a quarter to 10.

I spent Ushi once we got in, and she promptly got on her bed and was soon asleep. About 10 minutes after we arrived she started to dream bark. She was deffinetly sleeping hard! She didn’t move until this morning.

It was a good day even though we found Stranraer a bit boring. It was a day out though. I think that if we didn’t have the ferry to catch then we could have maybe got the bus to other places, but unless you have a car or do get the bus, then it’s pritty boring. That could just have been our experience though. If we hadn’t gone we wouldn’t have known what it was like.

I’m so glad Ushi was so well behaved! Hopefully some other day we’ll get to explore more of Scotland.