Opposite Ends

Today was quite a busy day.

We first of all headed off to another fold to sell christmas cards. I was a bit nervous since at the last fold a little old lady came up to me and was like “She is awful fat, dear” while talking to Ushi. She never even said hello to me. I just said that Ushi was kept on a strict diet and was exercised regularly.

Before i was about to go, i had ushi’s harness and lead in my hand. My three year old brother was standing beside me. (He had a bit of a limp when he came home from hospital but now you wouldn’t know he had broke his leg). He asked me what i was holding. I said it was Ushi’s harness. He said he wanted to wear it so i gave it to him. He then put it around his neck, buckled the girth strap and was like “it is like a seatbelt.”. Then he told me to take the handle and guided me up the stairs. It was really funny because he was so gentle going up. I think it confused little Ushi as she came running up as if to say “That’s mine!”. He also wanted to have the lead on but i said i had to go.

Well the fold was really nice and it was all bungalos and flats with a main common room. All the activities were optional for the residents that were held in the main common room. Apparently it is run by the housing executive and you need a certain number of points to get in. I know it’s probably wrong, but they seem like really good places to live. You are basically independent but if you need anything then you have a buzzer you can press. I asked out of interest what age you would have to be and they said that there was no age limmit. I just thought they would be a good idea, but i think i’ll be a home bird for a bit longer lol.

All the residents were lovely and one lady even came over and sniffed Ushi and commented on how nice she smelt and how she smelt like perfume and not like a dog lol. She got a couple of her friends to do it too lol. I don’t use perfume, I just hate a doggy smell. Right enough though i do spray my perfume over in the corner where her bed is so unless some of it got on her fur. I spray it on me though lol. I took it as a compliment lol.

My rehab worker was taking me to a school in Ballymoney to do a talk so he came and collected me from the fold. We had to pick up
The person who bords guide dogs sometimes
As she was the one i would be doing the talk with and she is a qualified speaker for guide dogs. It was a class of about 6 or 7 year olds i think. Maybe they were a bit older but not that much.

As we were walking in i heard alot of the kids talking about Ushi lol. It was things like “Look at the dog” and “come here boy”.

We were first taken into the staff room for a biscuit and a cup of tea as it was the kids lunch time. The class were all sitting quietly when we came into the classroom.

The guide dog border first of all talked about the main breeds of dogs used for guide dogs. She then showed them some pictures, then said about German sheperds and why sometimes they can be frightening. She said that sometimes they are trained like that for example they might sound a bit nasty for a police dog, for example. I then said that some owners weren’t very nice people and that they maybe made a dog frightening.

We then talked about what a puppy walker did, where the puppies were born, then about the puppies learning how to guide. We explained that it was like the kids going to primary school first (the puppy walker), then they would go to “big school” where they would learn how to guide and such.

We then explained that if Ushi walked me into something, I would tell her to “Watch” and that Ushi wouldn’t really like that because i would be being cross with her. I explained that when she was walking me around all the obsticles if i was telling her what a good girl she was she would do it again since she was happy that she was a good dog.

We then got the kids to tell us what kinds of obsticles they would see every day.

We said about how it is always best to ask a guide dog owner when they are working if they can pet their dog. I then lifted my harness and explained that once the harness handle was lifted the dog was working, but if someone wanted to pet Ushi i would just drop my handle. I said that the dog only guides when the handle is up.

We then got into the costs of guide dogs. We asked the kids how much they thought it would cost throughout the lifetime of a guide dog. estimates ranged from £300 to nothing to…£5,000,000 lol. Those would be very expensive vet bills!

We then asked the kids how much they thought a guide dog owner pays for their dog. They were quite shocked when i said it was 50 P! I explained about the health book and that her vet bills were payed for and all.

It was then question time. Each pupil had written down a question each and it was on a white board where they read it out. They asked things like “how does the dog get trained?” which we had already answered so got them to remember. “How does the dog cross the road?” to which i explained that i told ushi when to go forward when the traffic was clear. I said that Ushi will just walk straight across the road and then i would tell her what direction i wanted to go in. “How does the guide dog know where to go?” to which i explained that i told Ushi where to go and that i told her what direction i wanted to go in”. “What happens when the dog dies?” sort of took me back! I said that i would be very sad and that i would hope it didn’t happen for a few years yet, but if i needed another dog i would probably apply again. “What happens when the guide dog owner dies?” (A good question, i thought.). I said that if i was hit by a bus that Ushi could probably work for sombody else, or else she would just become a pet. “How does the dog know where its’ food is?” (I was glad we were on a happier topic! I explained how i measure her food using an old baked bean tin, that i get her to sit, and that i toot three times on a whistle.

After all the questions, it was petting time. I just said “does anyone want to pet the dog?”. At one point i had about three kids around me. I had said that she would give them her paw, but of course she wouldn’t do it! One little kid was like “oh if you put your face down she’ll lick it!”.

I think the petting was the best part for them to be honest. They seemed to take it all in, and we gave them booklets on fireworks and pets.

At one point we were talking about why you might need a dog. We said about glasses and i had visions of every kid going home and announcing “I need a guide dog since i can’t see too well” lol so i added that sometimes glasses don’t actually work to help some people. Either that or they would ask for 50 P to buy a guide dog!

I think ushi could have stayed all day there. She was so gentle with the kids.

I look forward to the next talk!


One Comment on “Opposite Ends”

  1. Jen says:

    Welcome to the world of school visits! Fun aren't they?Your brother sounds so cute.Maybe if you were considering one of those houses it would take a while to get one, so it could be worth applying soon because you might have to wait for ages. Having my own house is one of the best things I've ever done!

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