First Angel Eyes Committee Meeting

Remember back in February I wrote about being asked to
Sit on the Angel Eyes committee
I wasn’t too sure but after finding out about it i decided that i would and it was only until January next year and it would only be about three times a year that i would have to attend meetings. If i didn’t want to do it next year that would be grand.

Last night i wasn’t really looking forward to the meeting when i found out it was today, but thought i’d go anyway. I wasn’t sure what i would get out of it though.

So today the chair person picked me up at about 1 o’clock. We put Ushi in the boot since she has quite a big boot and she asked where i wanted Ushi so i didn’t mind Plus her airbag can’t be turned off so it was grand having her in the boot.

We were that busy gabbing on the way down that we nearly missed where we were going. After finding a roundabout we got there eventually.

We waited for a while until the building was unlocked by one of the other parents. The Angel eyes office is behind a river so ushi was having quite a whine to get in, so i’m thinking her taste of the water the other day has made her like it quite alot lol. While we were waiting, one of the parents braught their little girl over. She was fascinated about Ushi. She was only about 2 or 3. She even told me at one point about the “neenaws” lol when an ambulance went by. All i got was a tap on my shoulder as she told me lol.

When we went in, we first of all got some tea and coffee, before the chair person read out the minutes of the last meeting. We then talked about the first event that is being planned for this year which is “a night at the races”. I thinkk the way this works is you watch horse racing on TV and bet or something without having to go to the races. I don’t really understand how it works really. Anyway it is at the Hilton hotel in Belfast. Tickets are £15 but that includes a buffet. There is also a raffle with tickets for that being £1 and there is an auction too. It is on the 28th of April at 8 o’clock i think. The chair person asked if i would like to go but that isn’t really my thing to be honest.

Next they talked about a group they are starting at the start of May for mothers and toddlers who have a visual impairment. I think this would be great as it would mean parents were getting support from an early age with their issues.

Finally we talked about something that Guide dogs are planning along with Angel Eyes. They are planning to have a “life skills” day some time in May to let kids and parents have a look at the new technology there is out therefor cooking and to let them try it out for themselves. Obviously they would be supervised. There would possibly be some information sessions for parents too. That day is a bit up in the air still but i think it is a great idea. Because it will be held in our local social services building the parents could ask their socialworker afterwards if they would like services from them or something. Just my thoughts anyway. All the parents thought it was good but one seemed to be a bit skepticle.

We basically finished after that. I thought it was a good meeting and will do it for this year. At least i’ve tried it so i could say that. I probably wouldn’t have known what it would be like if i never tried it.

Ushi was a wee star as always. She just went to sleep as usual after looking out the window for a while.

I hope i added something valuable to the meeting.

Everyone was impressed at how good Ushi was. She has always been good but i love hearing it anyway when she lies down when she is meant to.

I’ll let you know about the other meetings when they happen. I am so glad i took up the opportunity to do it!


She…wades!

This evening we were going to free run Ushi since it was so warm. We decided it would probably be too hot to run her so we went for a walk instead.

I decided not to bring her harness as i thought that it would be too warm again for that. I just had her on lead but i had my halty in my pocket just in case. I didn’t want to use it unless i really really had to.

We went into town first, then went for a walk to a place called the “ecos” centre. The actual centre is just about energy efficient stuff but there are some lovely walks around there.

After a water stop we decided to keep walking on this walk. My sister suggested lengthening Ushi’s lead as if we were going to spend her but keep walking. There was nobody else around and if we saw someone coming i would have shortened her up again. She was having a whale of a time just sniffing when my sister stopped to take photos.

My sister went down near some water to take some better pictures and because Ushi couldn’t see where she had gone to she whined quite a bit before sliding under the gard rail that was put up so she could see more. Thankfully it was grass for a bit so she was okay. We then splashed some of her water over her back to cool her down but she didn’t like this much.

We finally decided to go onto a gravelly beach for more pictures but Ushi wanted to get closer to a very still clear clean river. I let my sister walk her onto the beach and she was grand.

I first of all let Ushi walk around on it for a bit on her long lead, but dad said that if i wanted i could let her off because he would be watching her. Well after a lot of encouragement, she went in, then came out quite a bit. She eventually went in until she was up to her belly. She never once swam, but more waded into the water.

This is huge progress for her. She wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole before! But today her tail was wagging and she kept going in for more. It could have been that she was cooling off but i think she enjoyed herself.

So maybe this could be a place we take her to free run! All i need now is some toys that would float if they were thrown. All her toys at the minute are too heavy or are cuddley. So any recommendations would be good apart from balls.

I’m so pleased she got the courage to go into the water as that was just what she needed! Well done Ushi!


People Skills Don’t Cost

Today i had my eye appointment. I hadn’t had one in a couple years.

It was my regular eye doctor today. I think he is the head consultant.

When we were called in, he was actually quite pleasant. My experience of him is quite blunt. He got me to sit down while he looked at my eyes. He then went out of the room to get something to check the pressure. I thought i heard him saying to someone in the waiting room “close your eyes” but don’t know if i did. I thought “god is he examining another patient?”. But i don’t know if he was.

Normally if i am getting my pressure in my eyes checked, i get drops in to dilate my pupils. Today he just used a machine that beeped but didn’t seem to touch my eye. I thought this was good as i hate getting drops in!

He then said “i have a medical student with me. Would you mind if she had a look?”. I said that was fine so he turned off the light, handed her something and goes “look at the (sounded like red reflections)”. She spent quite a long time looking and finally said “they are absent”. I think it was to see if my eyes reacted to light or not! I found this quite shocking because i thought he would have given a history to the student. She sounded totally shocked! Dad said later that she was just sitting reading a text book in the corner while he worked. I thought this was very ignorant.

About a month ago my left eye was very red and bloodshot looking. I wasn’t in any pain just itchy every now and then. I was going to call into our local optitions but the redness went away! So i thought nothing more of it, but the doctor noticed it today and said that sometimes bleeding can occur. He said my right eye was healthy but my left was rather bloodshot. So i don’t really know what this means but he is going to write to my GP to recommend drops if it gets red again. He then said “we’ll see you in two years unless the drops don’t work”. He didn’t even say that the drops would go to my GP but we figured that would be what would happen since he just gave us the appointment card!

He is a great doctor but has no people skills at all.

So i think if my eye does go red again i will go to our optition first. I’m not counting on him sending drops up to our GP! So i’m hoping it isn’t too serious. I have no vision at all so don’t think it is that bad.

Let’s hope i don’t have to bother with my doctor until my next appointment!


Change Vat Rules For Assistance Dogs

Recently there has been alot of talk about the fact that The Guide dogs for the blind association has to pay vat on its dog food. We as guide dog owners do not have to pay for our dog food which i hope never changes. I am so greatful that it is all paid for and that we are so lucky. There are alot of changes taking place at Guide dogs and i hope the fact that we do get our food and vet bills paid for never changes. If i had a choice though i would rather pay for my food as that would be the one amount each time.

Currently guide dogs are not classed as working dogs but grey hounds are. I think this is disgusting. Anyway a scotish MP has set up a
Petition
To try and send to the government. It has already got over a thousand signatures, but needs 100,000 to be considered by Parliament. I would really appreciate it if you could all sign and share this in any way you can.

Guide dogs have to pay £300,000 each year on vat for their dogs. Considering it costs £50,000 for the lifetime of each dog, that money could be used to fund at least 6 more partnerships. Our association doesn’t get any government funding at all.

Here is a news article about the
Vat on dog food
from the guide dogs website.

So please can you get as many people as possible to sign this petition. I’ve been posting this alot on twitter recently too. It is very important. There was even a guide dog owner in Scotland who had a day where they just tried to get people to sign the petition. I am considering asking our branch organiser if we can have a similar day! I don’t know if we would be allowed though.

I know i am not doing much, and sorry if this annoys you, but it is a very important topic and guide dogs like any charity are struggling at the minute because of the recession. I always thank anyone who donates even just a little when i am fundraising.

So don’t just read the petition, do sign and share it. It only takes a few seconds, although there is a capcha on it.

Thank you all and sorry this post is a bit rambly and all over the place.


It’s Okay To Say No

Away back in November, I wrote about
My voluntary experiences
And how it was okay to say no. Well i thought i wouldn’t have to do it but i did this week.

I’ve been quite busy with doing quite alot of talks over the past couple of months. Don’t get me wrong, i really do enjoy doing them.

I got a phone call from my rehab worker on Friday i think it was saying that the
P 6 class
Who i mentioned wanted to organise a stall for us to sell some of our stockk this Friday morning. I iinitially said that that would be okay even though i was out at a Girl guides talk on Monday night, a volunteer event tomorrow in Cookstown, and up in Antrim to collect a cheque on Friday afternoon.

Whilst at the girl guides with the branch organiser on Monday night (it went really well and we got a cheque for £50). Anyway she pointed out that i was doing far too much with my rehab worker and that if i didn’t want to do anything i didn’t have to. I have never ever felt pressured by him, and i know he would be grand if i didn’t want to do a talk. I explained to the branch organiser this and that he has always said that if i don’t want to do something that he will be grand about it. The branch organiser said that we didn’t have any stock though until next week, and that she knows that the rehab worker means well but should ask her before booking anything. I did agree with this though but said that i knew he meant well.

So i sent him an email on Monday night after i thought a bit about what the organiser had said. I just explained that i thought three things would be too much in a week and that it wasn’t anything against him. I said that if it had been any other time i would have been grand and that i hoped he understood. The last thing i wanted was for him to think that i was feeling pressured. I have never felt pressured nor will i ever do. I love doing talks to new applicants etc as a guide dog owner and will happily talk all day if i could.

So when i hadn’t heard of any emails from my rehab worker i began to really worry. I thought that he had taken it the wrong way, especially when i heard that the treasurer of the branch was going to talk to him which if you remember i have had trouble with in the past at some of our events. So i was expecting to be dropped right in it.

I was so worried today that i was making silly mistakes when out with Ushi. That then made me beat myself up for making stupid mistakes. I had a think on the way home from the walk and discovered that that was the only mestake i made so it wasn’t all that bad but at the time it was.

Finally this evening i got a phone call from my rehab worker. He said that it was no problem at all and that if i wanted i could not go tomorrow and do Friday morning as well as Friday afternoon. I said that i would do tomorrow and friday afternoon. He was totally grand and totally understood. He even phoned me a couple more times to appologise for not getting my email! So happy happy days! He can’t cancel since the teacher has arranged it, but he is going to bring my friends guide dog down. (Because he works for guide dogs this is okay). She broke her foot so her dog hasn’t been out in quite a while. But i am so so glad that he is okay and totally understood. I would have hated for their to have been any bad feelings.

So now i can relax and won’t have to worry!

While it was hard to say no, i know that nothing bad happened and that nothing bad would have happened.

I’ll let you know how tomorrow and Friday afternoon go. I’m so glad everything is okay though!


Two Talks To Two Schools

Today and yesterday i was doing two talks to two schools. It was great. The first was
Carninny primary school
Where the fair was back in November, and the second was a school in Ballymoney.

Carninny

My rehab worker had rang me last week to see if i would do a talk to his sons P1 class. Of course i said yes. I rang our fundraising branch organiser as i was running out of badges which i give to the kids. I think they say “i’m a guidedog hero” or something. I like each kid to get something though when i do a talk. I got another 30 badges so that was good.

So my rehab worker dropped his son off before going and getting me. My rehab worker talked a bit about what his job was and i had braught my cane to show them. I then talked a bit about Ushi and what she did. We explained about how much it cost for me to get a dog and used the 50P as what a bar of chocolate costs.

I explained that Ushi learning to be a guidedog meant she had to go to school then bigger school when she knew a bit about how to guide.

We then got them to ask questions. One little boy asked me how ushi helped me see. I explained that Ushi was like their mum or dad holding their hand. She took me round things that were on the pavement. I explained that some people thought the dog crossed the road but i had to be the mum or dad and tell her when to cross. I explained that Ushi’s harness was like her coat and she only wore it when we were going out.

Another kid asked the same question so to explain it my rehab worker got up and closed his eyes. He then walked into a couple of the kids chairs. He then took my cane and showed them how he didn’t hit the chair that time. They seem to understand that.

I explained to always ask when wanting to pet a guidedog and that they can’t have human food as it would make them very sick.

I think it was pets after that. I can’t remember any questions anyway lol. They all surrounded her basically. Ushi of course loved every minute, but one little kid fell on his bum because Ushi was wagging so hard lol.

I then gave them all badges and their teacher a copy of the braille alphabet as the kids like to learn how i read.

We then had a bit of a fiasko as i didn’t remember putting my cane away after showing it to the kids. I had put it away though so that wasn’t too bad.

The P 6 teacher then came down to ask the kids what they had learnt before getting his class settled. (We only found out the day before that we were doing it as the kids in that class wanted to fundraise for us).

This was a much smaller class. We were going to just do where we talked before questions, but we launched straight into the questions.

The first question took me by surprise really. A little girl asked “can we visit the care place?”. I thought she meant the guidedogs office up in Belfast and was all ready to say yes when my rehab worker whispered that that wasn’t what she meant. She had thought that we lived in a carehome or something but i said i lived with my family just like they did.

After that awkward question, we got onto more things like what things i found difficult since i couldn’t see. They had written out instructions for making a cup of tea, and i explained that i first of all filled the cup with the amount of cold water first to make sure i could carry it before it was hot. I would then put that cup into the kettle and that way there were less chance of scalds. I then said i couldn’t really just reach out and grab the cup-i’d have to find it first. We said that there was liquid level indicators that beeped to let you know when the cup was full.

I said that cooking was a chalenge and that i could cook but hadn’t done it in about 4 years so am probably a bit rusty. We got them to describe what would be dangerous about cooking if you couldn’t see.

We then talked a bit about how much a guidedog costs, why there was no age limmit any more, why it was lowered, and some ideas about fundraising. Ushi was then taken round each student.

We talked about the
Sponsor a puppy scheme
The class having a readathon, a non uniform day and we even talked about bringing the exhibition vehicle down and having a few more guide dog owners there too.

That was basically it and we were taken to the staffroom for some tea.

It was a great talk to both the classes and the P6s seem pritty keen to do something for us which would be brilliant. I hate asking for money but it’s a charity so you have to bring it up at some point.

Balnamore Primary school

This school was in Ballymoney. Orrigionally the classroom assistant had asked us to be there for half 9 but thankfully the teacher said that that would be too early and she would do the talk at half 10 instead.

When we got out of the car a teacher came up and said to us “Would you mind talking in the hall?”. We didn’t know what she meant but then she informed us that the school had had a non uniform day last week and all the children were so excited to hear that a guide dog was coming so could we talk to the whole school. We explained that we only came with badges for the little P1 and 2s, but the teacher said that was okay. The branch organiser said to me that she was a bit annoyed. It would have been nice to be told before today but oh well.

We went in and got settled in the hall while all the kids came in. We were wondering how we could make it interesting for all so what we did first was get the little ones to wear a blind fold and pick something up to see what was in there. They all enjoyed it and everyone in the school wanted to do that bit.

The papers were there and the teachers were taking photos too.

We talked about what a guide dog did, how she helped me, how it was trained and the fact she couldn’t have have any human food etc.

There wasn’t time for any questions unfortunately but we did get more pictures with the little kids. They couldn’t really pet ushi but some of them managed a sneaky one lol. Slightly encouraged by a wagging Ushi tail lol. One little kid whispered to me “i like your dog”. I said i liked her too.

The kids had held a non uniform day as i mentioned earlier. The P7s also held a bookmark and card sale and we were presented with a cheque for…£205! I thought this was brilliant! Thank you everyone!

I wasn’t as keen on this school but that could have been because we were thrown in at the deep end. I was pleased with the donation though!

After that, we went to the branch organisers mums house. We sat and had a chat to her mum who is a very nice woman and then we took Ushi out into her garden to run about. I forgot to bring her whistle with me outside but Ushi ran quite a bit. We didn’t let her go too far as the woman didn’t have back gates and she was right in the middle of a farm so i don’t think that would have been good letting her run through the farm.

We went back into chill after that.

The woman has invited us back again and totally loved Ushi.

When we were leaving, the branch organiser roled down the window to see a horse. Ushi didn’t know what to think when it decided to stick its head in through the window lol.

It was a great couple of days. I’ve another talk on Monday night and am off to Belfast tomorrow.

So it’s been quite a busy week! Thank you again both schools!


It Came!

Remember I won
Third place
In the Mango Minster 2012 compitition? Well her prize came today.

I am not really patient, so was going to email
Hound dog mum
To see if she was still sending it. She emailed me a couple of weeks ago asking what ushi was allowed and i said that she couldn’t have balls and not to bother getting her food related toys as she wouldn’t use them. I thought this was nice to ask first. She said she had got everything so i just had to wait.

Today me and Ushi got a big parcil. I couldn’t wait to see what we had got. There was even a note to Ushi saying that they hoped we enjoyed what was in it. I tried to take a couple pictures but they were blurry. Pity there wasn’t an app for Nokia phones to use like on the Iphone to recognise photos that have been taken.

So in this box was a great big bag of stuff. There was:
A rubbery monkey. He felt kind of like he wouldn’t last long and sort of like a stress ball. I was a bit worried but on closer inspection, he seems like he will last. I don’t think he has a squeaker but instead has an air hole which kind of squeaks when he is squeezed.
A dog bone with a rope in the middle. The dog can chew on the ends apparently but they feel like plastic.
A toy that looks like a three pointed triangle sort of with squeakers in the corner of each one. You can spin it. It comes with plastic glasses on the packet so you can see what colour a dog sees in.
A squid called “Squiddy” apparently. This is a squid with four squeakers in its tenticles.
A strange thing which we can’t decide if it is a dog or a sheep! It has a wooly back but lies down. It squeaks and crinkles.
A teeth cleaning kit (very important!) which includes a toothbrush that seems to be adult sized but am reassured it is for dogs, toothpaste, a head cover for the big toothbrush, and a finger toothbrush which i am used to. I’m dying to use it but i’ve still got her old toothbrush. I’m not sure how often you should change brushes. I’ve also still got half a tube of toothpaste from class still!
A huge bag of beef cubes i think and a glass cup for me with a rubber grip about half way down with paw prints and a rubber lid.

Ushi has played with all her toys already and loves the monkey. She had been asleep but when i started opening it to see what it was she stood right beside me.

Thank you hound dogs. It was well worth the wait and Ushi approves. It was so fun finding out what we got! I am now running out of room to put all her toys, but i don’t care. She is one spoilt pup! Thank you again!