Not One, But Three!

Last week i got a phone call from my rehab worker saying that Carniny Primary school who i have talked to in the past and who raised £419 for us, were having a day up at Portglenone forest. They wanted to know if me and Ushi would come. They normally have a day up there at the end of each term apparently, but this time it was because they are the first school in Northern Ireland to
Sponsor a puppy
Through the new schools initiative for sponsoring a puppy. I thought it was only one pup that was being sponsored but it is three because of the amount of money raised. They are sponsoring Sparkle, Dudley and Dotty and have received their first “pupdates” and photos.

We arrived at about half 10. I thought there was only going to be a couple of classes there, but the whole school were there! From the moment we got out of the car, it was “there’s Ushi!” and “That’s a guide dog!”. We stopped for some pats before heading off for a walk. While we were chatting, one kid said “that whole is where her poo comes out!”. I thought by the way they were talking that she had pooed but i hadn’t felt her sit. Then one of them said “i saw ushi’s bottom”! Then they looked underneath her and it was “That’s where the milk comes out!”.

We were going to go down a particular path but it was right beside a river so we turned and went another way. I decided to work Ushi to see how she did, and apart from needing to answer natures call at one point she did great. Although she didn’t like walking on the gravel and wanted to walk on the grass just off to the side. We had to stop every few steps for pets. I didn’t mind though as they all asked. Thankfully the paths were quite flat which was good.

I liked that when the little ones were doing a scavenger hunt, the bigger kids were making huts out of tree branches and stuff. So it was fun for all the school.

There was one point where ushi wanted to go down onto a jetty that was just beside us. So because i was being directed we went down because it was closed off. If it wasn’t for the steps down to the water being made of metal, i think that Ushi would have been away. I think she likes the still water but not the sea still. She whined and tried to get to the water. After discovering that we weren’t going down she turned and walked back onto the path again lol.

We headed back to where we started and to have a cup of tea and a biscuit. A little girl came up and even vidioed me and Ushi to show to her mum lol.

It was a good day out and i would like to thank the school for inviting me, but most of all for choosing to sponsor a puppy!

Meeting With The Arketect

On Thursday night I got a call from the campaigns officer from guide dogs. He was telling me that
Ballymena counscil
Were planning a consultation to look at how accessible the town centre was to blind and partially sighted people. He said that the first meeting was yesterday and asked if i would like to come along. I said yes as i think it is a great opportunity and it’s good the counscil are listening for once.

So yesterday I met with my friend P first of all, and headed down to the town hall at about 10 to 12. My friend decided to walk down with me and it is a good ob he did because we got a little lost. We ended up having to call into a selisitors to ask for directions. Luckily i eventually got to the town hall.

I was very impressed with the receptionist who guided me up to where the arkitect was. She knew exactly how to sighted guide me and even knew how to guide someone with a guide dog.

The architect was consulting with guide dogs, and
Disability action

The consultation is running for 12 weeks. They want to improve Ballymena to encourage more people to come to the town. They asked if we had any issues. I said that the buttons on the crossings aren’t in the same place always. I said it would be good if they were consistent. I also said that it would be good if they beeped as well as the little cones because i wouldn’t fancy sticking my hand under the box and finding something not so nice under there.

Some of the wheelchair users mentioned shared surfaces, which is where there are no kerbs, but these aren’t good for guide dogs as they work from kerb to kerb. So they are thinking of making them like a speed bump kind of thing.

I did point out that there is a street that is really good now that it has been widened out a little as they want to hear the good and the bad.

One of the wheelchair users asked if i would use the busses and i said yes and braught up one of the bus stops is half way up the wall and it isn’t up on a pole. The architect said he would look into that too.

There also might be a crossing installed at the entrance to our local park because you can’t cross it independently. I would love if there was because i could get there independently to free run with people!

It was a good meeting. I hope some of what we discussed is used. It would be a shame for there to be no money or anything.

On the way home i ran into my dad. He showed me a much easier way to get to the town hall than the way we went so that is good.

I’ll let you know about anything further and if the consultation is posted on the website i will share it here too. I’m so glad Ballymena counscil are listening!

Changing the meals

I’ve decided to change the ammount ushi gets in the morning and evening.

I used to have her on 100 grams in the morning and 150 in the evening. Over the past couple of days she has been sick after her meal in the evening. This is over an hour after her food, and i make sure she doesn’t do much or get excited after she has eaten. It is only when she comes upstairs. She likes to lie downstairs after she eats her evening meal. It is only a little bit as when i go to pick it up it is gone. So I presume she eats the little bit she has sicked up. This has only happened the past couple of evenings and nothing has changed.

I decided to phone my branch organiser for some advice just to see what the craic was. She used to be a vet receptionist so figured she might know. She said that the fact that it was only happening occasionally meant it probably wasn’t anything serious. If it was she would be sick in the morning, which she isn’t. She comes straight upstairs in the mornings to go to her bed after eating.

The branch organiser has suggested that i change her meals and give her a 150 grams in the morning, and 100 in the evening to see if that helps. She says i should take her to the vet if she doesn’t improve.

I tried the change last night and she wasn’t sick. She didn’t seem to wake me up as early for her breakfast this morning either. So i’m wondering should i keep her on the bigger portion in the mornings? Or should i change her back again?

I’ll just have to make sure that i do work her twice a day still to make sure that she doesn’t put on any weight.

The ADBC-Sorry

As some of you may know, there is a carnival for all assistance dog bloggers hosted every three months. A person picks a theme and then people write posts for it. You can find out more about it

I had planned to host the July edition. I had even thought of a theme and planned it all out in my head. I would have a note pad of who and what posts were under which catigry.

Unfortunately i don’t think i will be able to take part. I could probably at a push, but life has got really busy lately. Nothing bad, but i would hate to commit to anything and not be able to follow through.

So i’m throwing open the spot.

I’m sorry i wasn’t able to do it. Maybe at a later date. But the spot is free to a good home.

The Waterstones Mother And Toddler Group

Every Monday morning, our local Waterstones bookshop holds a mother and toddler group. It is just in the kids section of the store and only lasts an hour. I was invited along to this one by the lady E i mentioned in yesterdays entry.

Me and Ushi arrived nice and early so that we would get settled before the big mad rush. I braught the kids some stickers which said things like “i love guide dogs” and “i’m a guide dog hero” or something. I also braught a copy of the braille alphabet for waterstones to keep.

All the kids loved Ushi. One little boy got a shock and burst into tears when he came over and Ushi planted a great big kiss on his face. He was grand after that though. I don’t think he was expecting it that was all.

One little boy told us all about how he had 4 chickens called granda, George, Peppa, and Wallie. His dog was called Dibbles.

The books E read were: I love dogs, That’s not my puppy, Another one i can’t remember, and “No!”. (I thought when she said No that she was shouting at one of the kids lol! Thankfully she wasn’t.

Once again i’d like to thank E for inviting me. I only wish it had been longer!

Waterstones had a really good deal on. For each child who came, they got a token off a book as long as they spent it the day the group was run they would get money off a book. I thought the group was really good as it encouraged reading, plus the kids got to colour in while the story was being read. I think any kids could just come along.

So another good morning!

An Invasion Of Guide Dogs!

A couple of months ago, I was in
And i just happened to have Ushi with me. We got talking, and the staff in our local store really liked Ushi. The next time i was in one woman in particular, (I’ll call her E) asked if i would come in and do a talk or something with Ushi. I said i would be happy to and told them to ask the branch organiser of our branch.

It wasn’t long before a date was set, and we were invited by E to have an information table on Saturday the 16th June. We weren’t allowed to sell any stock, but we were allowed to sell little guide dog pins as it said on the box that you could make a suggested donation of a pound to have one. I orriginally thought it would be for the whole day but we were only there from 1 o’clock until 3.

So yesterday me, Ushi and the branch organiser arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed.

All the staff had to come over and give Ushi some love. E in particular would have spent all day there if there were no customers.

About half way through there just happened to be a crowd of about 20 guide dogs in the centre. They all had come down from belfast to shop and for a meal. Thankfully they all didn’t come into the shop as that could have been interesting! About four dogs and their owners did come in though. One lady recognised me from the Talking busses pilot we attended last year. The dogs who did visit us were called Truffle, Keeta, Dylan and Eric. Ushi and the dogs all had a little roll around the floor and Ushi wanted to follow them out of the shop.

We raised £49 out of selling pins, and tomorrow i am going to the mother and toddler group that E runs in Waterstones. Plus we have been invited back to sell our range of stationery!

It was a brilliant day and i think it is a good opportunity possibly for fundraising and even some volunteers in the future. Thanks for having me! I’ll let you know how the mother and toddler group goes.

Oh That’s Such A Shame

I was up visiting my uncle again. We went up on Wednesday and came home today. I’ll get to the title of this post in a minute.

I decided to work Ushi to the train station on Wednesday. She worked really well and was good at getting on and off the train. I still have to tell myself not to be nervous getting on and off as that could rub off on Ushi, but i do still feel a bit anxious. Once i am on then i’m grand. It’s just the getting on.

Ushi worked very well until we were getting the bus from the city centre of Belfast up to my uncles. She just started going to the kerb all the time and not following my directions. My sister then guided me and Ushi kept going in front of her. She even said that she wouldn’t want me bringing her next time if she continued. I was pretty annoyed about that. My sister usually is great with Ushi but i guess she was just annoyed. Maybe i shouldn’t work her if i don’t know the route and am getting directions, but Ushi has coped well in the past when i have done that.

When we got to my uncles, Ushi went to spend straight away. So i think that could have been what she needed. She doesn’t normally indicate the gutter as she is reluctant to go on concrete. Unfortunately it was the middle of the city centre so i’m not sure i’d want her going there anyway. I did some obedience with her as i admit i do become a bit slack with it. I think i’m going to have to do it every couple of days now rather than waiting until her work becomes a bit scratchy. Not majorly, but i do notice it.

The last time my uncle had baught Ushi a food bowl but it was too shallow and small for princess Ushi. So this time i thought i’d bring her own just in case. My uncle had kindly baught her a bigger deeper one, and it seemed to do the trick as she ate all her meals in it. So at least i’ll not have to bring her own bowl in future. I never thought a bowl would make such a difference to whether she eats or not. She took herself off to bed at about 20 to 9 that night lol.

I’m pleased to say yesterday was a much better working day. She listened much better to me and wasn’t wanting to go the kerb all the time. She did insist on walking at an angle when she was working, wanting to walk along the right side of the street. Normally she likes the left, but for some reason she wanted to walk along the right.

Unfortunately we got stopped by a woman as we were coming out of Tescos. She told us all about how she loved dogs even though she got bitten as a child. She then went into every detail about how her lip swoll up and how the doctors gave her a Tetinus injection. Then her mum apparently took her to a private doctor and the doctor said that the poison from the dog bite was going up to her left eye. (Can you tell i was deeply interested? Not). I then got told that she had a dog but before it died a cat came to her house and she adopted it. And then all about how she is bothered by her neighbors cats and they sit there until she gives them food.

Next came the worst bit of all though. She said to Ushi “What are you having for your dinner tonight?”. I said she was just having dog food. There was a silence then “Are you only having dog food? Maybe at the weekend you’ll get some chicken.”. (Can you guess where this is going yet?). I explained that ushi could only have her food and the reasons why. (I had to do this at least 3 or 4 times until she got the message). You’d have thought that i had done something cruel to Ushi (which i never would), but she said “Oh. That’s such a shame. Can she not even have a bite?”. (Again the explanation as to why not). It ended up we had to say we had a bus to catch. Technically we did but we could have got it at any time. That was the only way we could get rid of the woman. It also took her ages to grasp that Ushi was a girl. I felt like telling her to look for herself but decided that might have been a little rude.

Nothing more eventful happened. Ushi again ate all her food and went to bed quite early.

I was woken by a little whine this morning at about half 5. She has started looking for her food in the mornings. I used to feed her at half 5 in the evenings, but i was woken far too early so now feed her about 7 o’clock. I managed to get her to go back to bed until half 6, then 7. She must have been hungry lol.

Unfortunately on the way back home our train was delayed for half an hour because of flooding. It ended up that we had to change trains. The conductors kept appologising for the delay.

So Ushi is now asleep. I’m away doing an information tables at Waterstones so that should be good.

So apart from the wierdo at Tescos, it was a good time as always. I love the way ushi is so relaxed at my uncles house. He loves having her too which is fabulous!

Tescos Collection

Yesterday and today i was collecting for guide dogs at our local Tescos store. We were meant to get a slot collecting last year but we didn’t get in on time, but the option this year was to do a bag pack or a collection. We chose the collection as we wouldn’t have enough volunteers for a bag pack, and i don’t know how a guide dog owner would pack bags and hold a dog and a collecting box. I think other branches can do it though.

There was a bit of a palava at the last fundraising meeting which was on Wednesday. I’ll not go into too much detail, but i have written about a woman who happens to be the treasurer before. Well they got very bitchy towards the branch organiser. They said that basically in the minutes each sentence didn’t have to start with the branch organiser’s name. (Yes it does, she is the branch organiser!). The branch organiser told us that we were collecting from 10 in the morning to 9 at night. We could then decide which times suited us. (More complaints about how the branch organiser was doing too much from the person).

There was much more than that but i don’t want to discuss it here. Let’s just say things got rather heated. None of us thought this was fair, and we thought it was very childish. It seemed to be totally just ganging up on the branch organiser. So needless to say we left feeling very angry at the amount of silly bitching that was going on.

Out of interest, how practical would it be for a totally blind person to run a branch? I’m not saying I will, but god knows what way things will turn out. If things continued, i would hate for our branch to fall apart. I’d like some experiences and advice on that just out of curiosity for the moment.

On to the collection itself…

Yesterday morning, I decided to do the 10 to 12 shift in the morning. We can only fundraise for two hours at a time with our dogs. It was quite busy for the time of day, and we got lots of interest. Unfortunately the weather was quite chilly for June. I was glad we were under a sort of porch part at the entrance. I did have a slightly odd experience though.

There was this random woman who came up to me and started hugging me and patting my back. I thought it was someone who knew me and they were just being friendly. The patting continued, and then she said something like “I know what it’s like for people suffering. God bless you”. I thought it was very very weird. It wasn’t just normal light pats either, it was like you would pat a baby if it had wind.

In the afternoon i decided to come down again as one of the volunteers had to leave early, and the branch organiser was on her own. I didn’t bring Ushi though as she can only work two hours at a time, and usually the once is enough for her.

We raised £727 yesterday.

Today i only did my shift which was in the morning again. Ushi was with me again and had a ball as usual. She has got the sad longing look down to a fine art now as there was a guy walking past us, but Ushi followed him with her eyes until he came in lol. There was a person who was chatting away and said to me when she finished that she was going shopping and would i like a bar of chocolate or a drink. I politely declined but thanked her for the kind offer. About half an hour later she came out with a big bar of Erro and told me to share it with my friend. I thanked her alot. I thought that was really kind.

I was amazed at how generous people were. Especially with times being hard for all charities. Some people put £10 in at a time! I think it was deffinetly a good idea that we did the two days. We raised over £1200 over the two days! So for this year we have raised over £5000! This has been since January! We’ve still got plenty more events to go.

Well done to everyone involved! I just hope by the next meeting things will be quieter in the branch and we can all behave like adults. Let’s hope that the year continues to go well money wise.

*Total raised was £15637*

The European Guide Dog Survey

Just a quick one to say that I got this emailed to me this morning and thought it might be useful. It is very quick and most of it is pressing buttons on your phone.

Dear ***

I’m hoping that you might help on two fronts re your experiences of being guide dog users or your links to guide dog users re this survey and the use of
new technology.

The European Guide Dogs Federation is trialling the use of the voice form facility of Ipadio. I think this is going to be a really significant way of including
those of us who are concerned re completing surveys online, but have access to a telephone. It also provides much needed information about issues facing
European guide dog users and the survey has been made available online across the EU. To this end, I was wondering whether you could spare a few minutes
to dial up the following number and have a go at completing the form found there: 0330 333 9932

I have had a go at this and it was really painless and took me less than 10 minutes.

Please feel free to pass this on to any other guide dogs users you know to get them to complete it if they wish. We will be closing the survey down on
20th June, so completion before this date would be appreciated. Please let me know how you find the telephone form filling, as I do think that most organisations
for the blind should have this facility for use by the 80% of blind and partially sighted people who do not use a computer!

I have pointed out to the developers that where a nil response is required, it is not obvious what you do or where you do not wish to comment, what you
need to press to leave this section blank. I think I just pushed the hash key, which symbolised completion of that section and it then moved on to the
next topic.

Good luck and please let me know how you get on.

NB: The 0330 number range is a new range of numbers introduced by Ofcom to combat the confusion over call charges to non-geographic numbers. The rules
regarding these numbers are that they must be included in any bundled minute packages on both landlines and mobiles by all operators. In addition where
the call isn’t covered by a package of bundled minutes the call will cost the same or less than calling a 01 or 02 geographic number.


“Stepping Into The Dark” By David Lucas

I am a member of a couple of groups on facebook about guide dogs. One of the guys published his book “Stepping into the dark”. He posted it in the “docs” section of one particular group one day. I wasn’t sure if i would read it, but decided to give it a go one day.

“Stepping into the dark” as you can guess is about a man learning how to cope after losing his sight. It talks about how he had been visually impaired since childhood, but that his sight got worse over time. Instead of it being like a pity party, the book dealt with the hard facts. The author talks about attitudes around him, and how when he was a child he got called “Cross eyed clarance” by kids and teachers in school.

The author doesn’t sugarcoat things and says exactly how he feels both as a child, and when he had to register with his social services department as partially sighted.

The author explains his feelings on getting a guide dog, and the anger he felt when the idea was put to him.

The guy talks about much more besides, but i don’t know how much i could write about it without giving parts away.

When i had only finished the first 6 chapters, i had to email the author to explain my feelings. Most of that email was “Wow”! or words to that effect. I had to open a microsoft word document to write down my feelings on each chapter. The book made me examine my own feelings, and how i seemed to people. It also made me write about my feelings towards a cane, and how when i was 12 i thought you just had to do it.

I found myself being totally shocked at the attitudes of people, and i’m sad to say while it has got a little better, it still is a long way off being perfect.

I think i’m starting to ramble now, but i would recommend reading this. I would advise you to write down any feelings you get from it as it is such a powerful book.

The author has said that he will add to the book to “bring it up to date” and he is talking about making an audio and E book version sometime in the near future i hope.

For anyone wanting a print book though, you can get it

I’m so glad i stuck with it even though i had to leave it between each read, but i wanted to read more if i did decided to read a chapter.

I’m not sure how to end this but i’ll say it is deffinetly worth a read.