Volunteer Day In Derry

I’m quite tired so can’t be bothered putting the “This time last year” post in a separate post. This should be the last one for a bit.

This time last year
Was the first day
After qualification. I was extremely nervous as this was the start of my journey. I worried so much back then if i would be able to go out on my own, and now look at me!

My mum even worried and wanted someone to meet me at a spiciffic part of our walk. Thankfully that didn’t happen though.

On to today

Today me and another guide dog owner were invited to an event hosted by
Volunteer now
Which is an organisation all across northern ireland that promotes volunteering. My rehab worker was going down so thought it would be good for us to come along as well. The derry branch of guide dogs were holding a volunteer information stall and a street collection too.

So at about 8 o’clock, we were picked up. We then headed off to collect that other local guide dog owner before heading off to Limavady to pick up the branch organiser for the Limavady branch.

We then headed off to the Playhouse in Derry where there was a free cup of tea, and a chance to check out Volunteer now’s
One good reason action day
Which is an event to encourage the over 50s to volunteer. It was taking place in 8 or 9 towns and cities across the country. The aim of the day was to get useful skills for being partnered with an organisation of your choice.

Unfortunately the volunteers who would have been coming to see us weren’t able to make it so two women from Volunteer now agreed to come to our event. My rehab worker was going to show them how to do basic sighted guiding.

So after lots of pictures at the Playhouse, we headed off to a hotel which i can’t remember the name of lol. I think it might have been the London derry arms or something like that.

Of course as we were heading over, it started to pour down. So my rehab worker went and got his car and we all headed over to the hotel.

The street collection was just across the street from the hotel, so before we went in, we went over to say hi. One of the guide dog owners up in Derry has a german sheperd called Inis. At another event we were at, Inis gave a bit of a bark towards Ushi and a bit of a growl. It really scared me so i was a little nervous of meeting him again. His owner is extremely nice. Well we had no growls at all from Inis, and in fact Ushi spent most of the time sniffing his bum! They even lay down beside each other later that day too. So I don’t know what was up that first day but i felt much better about him since they were so friendly. I even said to the guide dog owner later on.

We had the exhibition vehicle that was sent over from England too. Ushi kept trying to go up the steps of it lol.

After saying hi to everyone, we went over to the hotel where we would do the sighted guiding thing and where the people we would be teaching were.

We first of all started with basically why we were here, followed by a short talk about our experiences as guide dog owners, some very basic ways of how to guide someone to a seat and the in correct and correct way of going in and out of a door. We also showed the correct grip for someone holding your arm. We then did a quiz on some of the common myths about guide dogs and were they true or false. We then watched a DVD about guiding a blind and partially sighted person across the road and that.

After that, we were going to get the volunteers to practice guiding us. So we left the dogs with the woman from Limavady (she bords guide dogs so i knew nothing would happen). We let them off their leads as it was a small room that we had been in the woman wasn’t going anywhere. They had a ball just snorting and running around.

We just walked over to where we would be helping with the street collection later. My volunteer didn’t really say much apart from informing me about kerbs and such so it was a bit awkward. The other volunteer has signed up as a volunteer driver!
We ate lunch and chilled in the exhibition vehicle for a while after. As well as the collection, there was a volunteer information event in the vehicle so i decided to do that while the others did the street collection. I’m still not comfy doing that at the moment. Plus i thought that it would be better having a guide dog owner at the vehicle so that people would have more time to pet and such.

We left at about three o’clock. We got 6 new potential volunteers as well as a man wanting to apply for a guide dog!

Ushi was surprisingly well behaved. We didn’t have nearly as much excitement as usual, and she was just a great girl. We had one little issue where she had a protest against the halty and just stopped but i took it off and she was grand. We also had a bit of trouble with her getting wet paws and slowing way down. But apart from that I couldn’t have asked for more. I’m thinking of maybe cutting back on the halty just to see if she would still pull. I’ll still have it with me but i’m thinking the stops are most likely her being stubborn or she could be telling me in her own way that she doesn’t need it as much. When i take it off again she is like a little lamb.

Tomorrow is the guide dogs 80th birthday party! I’ll probably have an extremely tired dog lol. I’ll write how it goes tomorrow.

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