2011: A Year In Review Part 4

This is the final part of my review of 2011, you’ll be glad to know!

October

In October, I
Talked about how blogger
Was considering changing its editor. I still don’t know when the change will take effect, but if you are
Thinking of moving blogs
Then check out my blog post on changing to wordpress.

I attended the
80th birthday bash
For guide dogs at Stormont, and the
Celebration
At the city hall.

I was worried about going away on a weekend and
Having to pick up
After Ushi as i thought it would be so disgusting. Thankfully
It was easier than i thought

Finally for October, I attended
An exhibition
Put on for visually impaired. I got an audio CD and put all the tracks up using
Audio Boo

November

In November I attended
Our fundraising branches meal
To thank all the volunteers for their hard work throughout the year.

I attended
A christmas fair
At a primary school which was great fun.

I had my
Last aftercare visit
Until next year. I kind of feel sad in a way as i always enjoyed having aftercare to know how i was doing. I know that if i need anything they are at the other end of a phone.

I finally wrote about how one probably shouldn’t
Compare voluntary experiences
But that it was only natural.

December

We’re finally at December! It feels like this has taken ages! Anyway…I first of all asked you to vote for
Nicky
As he was singing in a compitition. It all must have paid off because
He won!

I reviewed the awesome
Musher’s secret
Paw wax.

I talked about
How i just wasn’t in the christmas spirit
But i did enjoy
Christmas day itself

That basically brings us up to the
Review part 1,
part two
And
Part three

It’s now 5 past 12, so welcome to 2012! That just sounds weird writing that. It just feels like any other day to me. I was asked the other day what i hope to get out of 2012, and to be honest, i just don’t know. I don’t know at all what the year will bring. I’ll probably be just truckin along as usual. All i can do is hope that it will be a good year, and that i discover more places to go with Ushi. I know i’ve mentioned wanting to learn how to travel independently in the past, but i am determined to have this happen this year. I feel though that we’ve sort of hit a plateau in that we did all our “firsts” last year. I guess i’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I hope we have no more dog attacks and that we continue to grow in our relationship.

I hope to get into the computers again but don’t know how yet.

I would love to not be worrying about other dogs, but can’t promise anything. I wish i could free run ushi on my own but i like the company of knowing another person is with me in case anything bad does happen.

I hope this blog isn’t just about guide dog stuff and that i find something else to write about!

I hope i don’t get bored of talking to different groups of people about guide dogs and my experiences.

I hope i remain friends with everyone and that i make new friends along the way.

I can’t think of anything else to add, to hopefully you all have a happy healthy new year. I can’t wait to read your blogs in the coming year.

I’d better go, but i hope 2012 is a good one!

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2011: A Year In Review part 3

I’ll really have to rush this if i’m going to get these next two parts in before tonight.

July

In July, I finally met up with
Jeniffer
And OJ. We had a fantastic time but unfortunately coming home we had an incident with the trains that has made Ushi a little nervous of them so she tends to rush off and on. The last time i met Jeniffer was when she
Did an interview with me about reading
Back in 2007! Little did i know that 5 years later i would have a guide dog and we would have become friends!

I reflected on
Meeting Ushi
And what had changed a year later.

I had some
Awesome service
At a restaurant and would go back there with Ushi. It’s nice when for example your menu is read out to you.

I baught a
Furminator
For Ushi. It is a great job and i find that i don’t have to groom her as much after i use it.

We decided to visit
Dublin
For a day. I found it very loud and busy. We didn’t really know where to go but apparently there was more than just shopping that we could have visited if we had known where to go. The river Liffy didn’t seem too nice either as it smelled a bit as you walked past it.

August

In August I
Celebrated my 21st birthday
Along with my sister. I got some awesome presents. Unfortunately my little brother broke his leg. Now though he doesn’t even have a limp, but tells everyone he meets what happened.

The woman who teaches me the quilting, took me to a
Donkey Sanctuary
To see some donkeys which are used to help disabled children with riding and is an alternative to horses.

I took part in a
Sponsored walk and picnic
Run by Angel eyes northern ireland. I didn’t know if i could take part because i wasn’t sure if we would be allowed to because of the guide dog agreement we have to sign on qualification.

We went over to
Scotland
For the day, but discovered that it wasn’t what we thought. Maybe if we had more time we could have gone more places. I would love to go over again to visit ushi’s puppywalker.

I talked about all the preparations
I would need to do
Before we went, but i made it sound as if i needed to do alot more.

I took part in
The official talking busses
Pilot scheme which ran until October. (The last i heard was that guide dogs would take its findings to the minister for transport).

I attended a
Bark in the park
Event ran by the dogs trust and had a great time.

September

In September, I celebrated
A year with Ushi
Every time i think about that fact all i can say is Wow! I still feel as if i have just qualified!

I discussed the myth that sighted people have of blind people
Needing to feel faces
Which they don’t. Ewww.

I took part in
A guide dogs pub quiz
Organised by our fundraising branch.

The final part will be coming later. I haven’t included all the entries as there as just too many!


2011:A Year In Review Part 2

Here is the second part of the review. Enjoy!

April

In April, I attended
My first fundraising event
Which was a collection. I discovered then that Ushi didn’t like people’s faces being covered as there was a security guard who had a big helmet and Ushi couldn’t see his face. That was the only time i heard Ushi bark, and it wasn’t even a full on one, rather a low one. I want to know what she sounds like lol. She is so quiet when she is awake but when she is asleep she is very vocal!

We discovered that Ushi
Hates the sea
When we took her to Portrush. I think it was a combination of me keeping ushi in harness and the fact that she is an extreme wuss! I think she has forgotten that labs are meant to love water!

Ushi happens to be a
Bit of a sniffer
When the seasons change. I didn’t know why she was doing that but have since figured she must be since she becomes overly sniffy when the seasons do change. She also started to dig again.

I had another
Aftercare visit
Where i learned how to use busses. (I hope to properly use them independently next year).

I also attended a
Fundraising workshop
To learn more about fundraising.

May

May was quite a busy month, with attending
Our first agricultural show
Which turned out to be quite bad weather wise.

I got a bit of a scare when i met a german sheperd guide dog at a
Volunteering event
When the dog barked at Ushi. Ushi was a bit taken aback too, but we have volunteered at other events together such as
This one
And the two dogs were fine.

I started doing some
Guide dog talks
With my rehab worker first of all to get me used to it. I also did
This one,
This one
To kids, and
My first solo talk
to more primary school kids after the
Speakers training course
I did. (Those aren’t all for May but i thought i’d put them all together).

I emailed my instructor about ushi and her lack of fondness for
The rain
Thankfully she is nowhere near as bad as she used to be but she still goes exceptionally slow and i still have to push her a little to get her to spend sometimes if it is raining heavily.

When i emailed my instructor i sent a copy to my friend for her to check if it was okay. She changed her display name that comes up when you email and changed it to my instructor. Her email came first as my inbox is set to alphabetise my emails. She had said that ushi would need to go in for up to 4 weeks retraining as she couldn’t be doing what she does in the rain and that she would be in touch. Not realising that it was my friend, i wrote back in a fluster and asked where she was going to be borded, would i have her at nights, would the border know what to do etc. I felt like crying! When i discovered it wasn’t my instructor i could have killed my friend. I still haven’t got her back for that one lol.

June

In June, I took part in the
Pre pilot
For the Talking busses campaigne that guide dogs were doing. The actual Pilot was in August i think. I was also worried about Ushi’s weight in that entry but thankfully her weight has gone down a bit to 34.5 kilos. I’ll be weighing her in January at her frontline/worming so let’s hope it has stayed down.

I attended
A fun day and a stakeholder Event
Held by Guide dogs where we learned some of the changes that would be taking place throughout the whole organisation.

I discovered that Ushi is
Scared of bluebottles
So much so that she had what i now was a panick attack. I felt extremely stupid phoning the vet saying that Ushi started to pant after she saw a bluebottle! It took a few days before she really calmed down as she had a couple of Mini ones. She still pants now when she sees a fly etc but i just ignore her and she soon forgets about it. It is nowhere as bad as that first time though!

I’ll hopefully post the last two parts before Sunday!


2011: A Year In Review Part 1

I’ve a feeling this is going to be a long post, so i’ve decided to start this early just to get everything written down. I can’t believe it’s a year already. It doesn’t seem that long since i wrote my
Last review
Sorry for the amount of links, but here goes:

January

Back in January, I started my
Quilting course
I had talked about doing. I thought it would never get up and running to be honest. Every time we seemed to arrange it something would come up. I felt like the woman was never going to do it since i felt like i had let her down so much. But the day before that entry i had texted her to see what the craic was and low and behold, we were both available.

At first the woman wasn’t sure how to teach me, so we experimented. She first got a strip of Masking tape so i could sew along it. By the second week of us meeting i had gotten bored of it so we now just stitch. At the start i used a
Round hoop
To hold my fabric in place but i’ve gotten bored of that too.

I have made a cover to put on a cushion, a couple of things to hang, and i’m currently making a dog bed cover out of old jeans. (The bed i have can’t really be washed so this is a new cover for it. The covers can be washed). I don’t have a clue what to make after lol.

I am so glad this woman has been willing to help me throughout this year. Thank you Jane for your intheuziasm. It has been good craic!

I had to get rid of my
Nokea E51
Which i had had since 2008. I was having problems with
Some of the keys sticking
So had to get a new one. Unfortunately
Vodafone
Don’t have any new phones which support the Talks software, so i have an E65 phone which Vodafone put the talks on and reduced my tarriff because i couldn’t get an upgrade to a new phone.

I’m not too keen on the Iphone, because i like my buttons too much. I’m sure i’ll have to eventually go on to using it. I hope that is a while away though!

I had my
Four month aftercare
Where i learnt that the reason Ushi stopped so much was that she gets bored quickly. I wanted to show the instructors that she was starting to stop in town but of course she didn’t stop!

I came across an
Idiot dog owner
Who let his dog wander about without a collar or lead. That proved to be a huge distraction for me and Ushi. Unfortunately something much worse happened in February but i’ll come to that when i get to February.

Unfortunately as mentioned above in my after care post, Ushi started her
Stopping routine
again, Only this time she decided to do it in town. Of course everyone decided to come up to me which made it even harder to get her going again. Thankfully now that i am doing the quilting in a coffee shop in town, it is much easier to get her going, and she doesn’t stop now that we have a purpose for going into town. She does sometimes like to go down the middle of the street outside the shopping centre instead of up the left side which is the way home, but i soon get her going up that again.

I also mentioned in that entry that she didn’t like doing a down position when we were doing an obedience session in the house. When we were out though she did it perfectly but not on her long lead. I still have to be creative and usually have to sit down for her to do it. Of course she gets mega praise when she doe it! I used to do the obedience on the lead but sometimes i don’t do it for a few weeks. (I still do the “Sit/wait” part on a free run though as this encourages the dog to come back. Talking of free runs, i don’t need to use her Halty as much. I still carry it with me though. She still pulls but i can manage her.

I attended one of our
Fundraising meetings
As it was still a planning meeting and not an actual event. I still couldn’t fundraise at this point. Ushi was quite unsettled at that meeting, but i have since learned that if i am at someone elses house, it is okay to let her off her lead. I still ask first. I try not to get too worried if ushi is a little unsettled as i know that she will settle and it’s not a big deal. If i didn’t have any expectations she usually behaved perfectly. I always take her harness off when fundraising as two hours can be quite long when in a harness.

Our granny wanted rid of her pet dog, but no where would take her since she is 12 years old. So we decided to take her. On new years eve we introduced the two, and she came to live with us. Ash and ushi still pritty much ignore each other. Ash is too old to care really. She doesn’t even play with her toys, so Ushi ocasionally borrows them lol.

Apart from some extremely bad breath which the vet says is normal, Ash is in pritty good health. She mostly sleeps but she does like her walks and free runs. Ushi will look out for her, and if she is outside and ushi is in, she’ll stand at the door until Ash comes back in. When we took her for a free run she just plodded along but Ushi would have looked to see where she was.

I didn’t realise January was so busy! I’ll write each month in headings if it is worth it. Some probably won’t be in headings if there are only a couple entries.

February

February wasn’t that busy, but unfortunately wasn’t the best month. Let’s start with some
New toys
She got for her birthday. She got an Armadillo which squeaks and a kong tails. She still loves these today and the armadillo has to be her favourite. She thankfully doesn’t try to get the squeaker out, but i still wouldn’t leave her with anything that squeaked. Any time her toys are worn they get sewn unles they are beyond repair. She still doesn’t bring them back to me though.

I talked about getting Ushi used to
The shower
As she would stiffen up even before we got her into the bathroom. I never did do it, and i just got my happy voice on and persevered with her and eventually kind of manhandled her into the shower when she did need her bath. She only has been bathed once since i got her so i don’t have to worry too much. I just used baby shampoo on her. I panicked in case when i groomed her afterwards idid something wrong but thankfully nothing happened and it did get rid of all that loose hair.

We visited the
Clown doctors
Who help children who are in hospital by providing some entertainment for them. They seemed to be a great organisation!

Unfortunately Ushi was
Attacked
By another dog when we were heading to our quilting course. That really shook both of us up, and i didn’t know what to do. The
Police
Were out the next day and were great. In fact the amount of support I got was just amazing. Thankfully she had no internal injuries. I didn’t work her for two days because i was so nervous. I didn’t think my confidence would ever return to what it was. Thankfully,
My sister
Accompanied me until
An instructor
From guide dogs came out and assessed me and Ushi. Thankfully we were working well and still are. I would say that you wouldn’t know ushi had been attacked now unless i told you which is fabulous.

I do still get a little nervous now, but thankfully we haven’t ran into any off leash dogs. I’m so glad that most dogs now are on leads. I only run ushi with dogs i know which i admit isn’t many and still have someone with me. I know it’s probably not right that i don’t let Ushi interact with other dogs on a run but i just wouldn’t want to risk it. I’m just glad that i can work her on my own.

The amount of dogs i’ve heard of being attacked since is quite shocking, and new research was done saying that
More than 7 dogs are being attacked each month
In the UK. I am so lucky that Ushi is working unlike some dogs i’ve heard of. I think if it was to happen again we might not be so lucky. I certainly wasn’t ready to retire Ushi at 5 months of our partnership because of a dog attack. Thankfully though a
New law
Was passed in October meaning that dog wardens can do more and dog on dog attacks are illegal and come with hefty fines. So that is some comfort if it happens again.

In case you are wondering, this is an issue very close to my heart. I could write more but i’ll go onto the next month.

March

March was a much happier month, but the
Police
Didn’t prosicute the owner of the dog who attacked Ushi because there weren’t many witnesses who came forward. I actually found out that a few months later, that a local postman saw the attack and got the dog off Ushi. When he phoned his supervisor she said that because he wasn’t attacked he couldn’t report it. I think that is ridiculous to be honest. But he would have been the only witness if he had came forward.

On to other things…

I assisted in a pilot scheme for the
Sighted guiding service
Which is also called the “My guide” service. It is run by Guide dogs and it helps newly blind and partially sighted people get out and about again. They are with their guide for 3 months before they decide whither they want to apply for a dog, learn the long cane or get a friend to continue the sighted guiding. It was enjoyable.

One of the women who did it and who is also a volunteer driver completed her turn with her first client and is now waiting to be matched again to someone else.

I celebrated
Six months
With Ushi. I thought at some points i would have to give her back, but i figured out how to deal with all her little issues.
I’ve decided to split this post up. I didn’t realise there would be so many links!


Presents

I didn’t really know what i wanted this year, so i’ve only got a few things.

A couple of months ago i asked dad if he would look for a good winter coat for me. I do have a rain coat but sometimes it just doesn’t warm me up. He ordered me one from
Littlewoods
But it was a little on the large side. I asked for a 14 to 16 as i’m rather big on the chest but i discovered that it was just too big. So we went shopping for me to feel some coats. I didn’t want one with fur or one that was ridiculously bright or just looked horrible. I picked a style that i wanted so dad went and ordered it online.

The coat is a smaller size (12 to 14) and is kind of puffy but not too bad. It comes with a detachable hood and doesn’t drown me but i still have room. I never wear the hood anyway and prefer to wear hats as i found that i can hear more without a hood. The hood rustles that much that it is hard to hear traffic and that. I don’t have a hearing problem, it’s just cars sound so much different in the rain, for example, so if you can, i find it better to just have a hat.

The coat is great and i feel really warm in it.

I also got
Armani Diamonds
Perfume (I think this is the right one as there are two types), money and chocs from my mum. I also got a box of celebrations as well.

I’m not sure i mentioned it when we went for our
Fundraising meal,
But my friend P got me a nice necklace and bracelet. The necklace was a right pain though to get out of the box as it was wrapped around something but you had to pull on the necklace to get it up to get whatever it was attached to out. I got it eventually though.

So i guess all that is left to me to say now is have a happy safe christmas and enjoy whatever you do. I’ll probably write more before the new year though so i’ll not wish you a happy new year just yet :).


Sorry To Be A Scruge

I was debating this post and i’ll probably get lots of comments telling me that I am a scruge but i don’t really care. I guess i am a bit of a scruge this year.

I’m finding that i’m just not in the whole christmas thing this year. I think it’s just all the crowds, people thinking the world will end and everywhere you go there is the same christmas music playing. There has even been mentions from some people on Facebook since the start of November!

Our family have never been one of those families who invite or visit every man and his cat, and i am glad of that. There isn’t anything wrong with visiting/having people over for christmas before people start getting annoyed.

Nothing particularly bad has happened to not get me in the mood, but i deffinetly think the older you get the less exciting it gets.

Yes i will enjoy getting presents and such but to be honest i’m not looking for that much this year. I have thought of a few things and have got most of them already. I’ll write what i get later though.

I really hate to say it but it just feels like another day this year. I honestly don’t know what the hype is.

Before i go on any more and start repeating myself, i’ll leave you and wish you all a happy christmas. I hope you enjoy whatever you do. I will try to enjoy it and i’ll have my two younger brothers to hopefully help me get into the christmas spirit. I’m also glad o say that i’ve looked at the weather and apparently it is to be quite warm tomorrow.

Sorry to spoil anyones mood. I’m listening to
Team FM
Where there will be an interview shortly with
Nicky
About winning
Glor Tire
So head on over right now and
Listen

Sorry for being a scruge!


This Time Last Year…Food

You’ll be pleased to know that number one this is going to be a short one as i want to write another post and two this is the last in the series i’ve doing about reflecting on this last year with Ushi. I hope you enjoyed it. It was quite hard to write as i felt like i had to rather than wanting to. Plus i thought you all were getting bored.

This time last year we were in the middle of getting our kitchen redone by the housing executive. Ushi had been fine for most of it, but there was one point where she became very hesitant to eat. We had many
Frustrating days
Where she took an age to eat. She had her food with water in it since i got her but one day she just decided to not bother. I had many days of frustration until one day i felt things needed to change so had a little chat to her. She probably didn’t understand but within a couple of days she was eating okay again.

She now eats her food dry with water beside her. She used to be very lazy and there were times where i would have to shake the food in front of her before she would get off her bed to eat it. She is sometimes like that still or sometimes she will sit at my bed and whine for it. While this is a good sign, she will sometimes do it almost an hour before i need to feed her! I just send her back to bed.

I noticed something strange when she eats her dinner. Very ocasionally after she has eaten and spent she will be sick. The first time this happened i thought she had eaten something. It has happened a couple more times though. I haven’t done anything strange and have it practically drummed into everyone here that Ushi must not be played with for at least an hour after her food. I even check the time when she starts eating and work out an hour from then. (We are told not to work them for at least an hour after feeding, and not to feed until two hours after a free run). Ushi herself usually lies and chews her bone.

I think i may have worked out what was causing it. I usually leave her for at least an hour each day. When i come back it is around half 5. I usually fed her about 10 minutes after, but have decided to leave it maybe 20 minutes. While Ushi doesn’t really bound, she will still be a little excited to see me back again. She is such a chilled dog though that after she has slid herself along the wall opposite our room, she will lie on her back then come in and sit beside me until the food is prepared. Since i have started to wait longer before feeding she hasn’t been sick in about three weeks. So maybe it was just that i needed to wait a little before feeding. I carry a bag with me though in my pocket in case after she comes in i need to use it but thankfully i haven’t. So god knows what the craic was.

I do know that one thing i have learnt though over the past year is that Ushi doesn’t like working for her food. I baught her a
Kong wobbler
A few months ago and although she did get excited when i put food in it, she just wouldn’t use it. Instead she would whine at it and paw it for a few times before lying or sitting whining at it until you opened it. So I gave it to my friend who thankfully is making some use of it.

It is even a push to get her to use a regular kong but she will eventually. I have a weird dog i think.

I will probably write more later, but i’m going to leave this now. I hope you don’t find it boring.