The Lough Shore Meets Go Walkies

Yesterday was the
Go Walkies
Event that i mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

Unfortunately a couple of days before, the Antrim counscils health and safety department flagged up some issues they weren’t happy with. They wanted to know how the markees were going to be put up, what was in the face paints, what happened if the vet who was doing vet checks got bitten, and other useless stuff. I know it was their job, but i thought 2 days before the event was a bit cheeky. So naturally, that got our branch organiser in a bit of a flap. Thankfully she managed to get it sorted.

Me and Ushi arrived yesterday to complete chaos. Apparently another charity were where we were meant to be. They had bouncey castles and a face painter. They were meant to be at the Antrim forum, but they said they didn’t have any room. It took quite a while for the branch organiser to get in contact with the counscil, but the other charity didn’t have permission to be where they were. We could have told them to leave but we decided that that would probably look bad if we told a charity they couldn’t be there.

Add to that that the rotary club were meant to provide 20 marshils for the two walks. The first lot didn’t turn up, so people couldn’t go on the first walk for at least 20 minutes until they turned up. So needless to say our poor branch organiser was up to high doe.

While i waited until someone sighted was able to do my walk, a little girl who was at school with me, well she joined when i was about 16 or 17. She was about 6 when i first met her. I would have talked to her on the bus and that. She came with her mum and brother. I let her feel Ushi and the harness and that. She wants a guide dog and she wants one now! She is 12 so i said to her mum to ask about guide dogs services. Since there is no lower age limmit now she could be eligible for a guide dog. She had a chat with a member of staff right there. It was nice to see the little girl again.

When i was ready for the walk, i went with another guide dog owner. Her dog was called Zeta. After two “busy” stops we were ready to go.

The two dogs worked extremely well on the three mile walk. They kept taking over each other after a while. I was expecting ushi to stop again but she only had another random stop then carried on. I think having another dog to follow really helped. She maintained a good speed too throughout the walk. She did get greedy with the water left out and drank all of it even though she didn’t need to!

When we got back, Ushi had an encounter with a sheep! One of the staff told me to watch out for it but it was too late. The guy who owned the mobile farm that came was standing with one of his sheep. Ushi thought it was another dog and tried to play with it! She couldn’t work out why it didn’t play with her, so she sniffed its bum. It just stood there so she gave up. I thought it had a clothes peg on its ear but that was it’s tag.

The farmer also had a little pony and trap to take kids around, an Alpaka, a donkey, a pig and rabbit but we didn’t see them.

Because we completed the walk, we were presented with a goody bag from Ucanuba which sponsor the go walkies events. It had a certificate saying ushi did the walk, a Ucanuba pen, two rubber wristbands that said guide dogs in brraille, a toy dog, a voucher to win a six month supply of Ucanuba and a tag for Ushi’s collar that said Ucanuba on one side and guide dogs on the other. Or maybe it was go walkies. I’m not sure whither to put it on her collar as i don’t like too many tags as they make more noise so they would annoy me on our walks. But that’s just me.

So apart from the fiasco at the start of the day it was a good day. I think we raised over £1100 but i’ll know more later on in the week. At least we got good weather too! I decided to let Ushi chill today but she was her usual self. I would have thought after that walk she would have needed a day to chill. I’m so glad it went well.

That’s our last big event for the year. Now it’s just talks, the collections in the shopping centres, and the folds to do now. Thanks everyone who came!

Unfortunately the PSNI dog team were called on an emergency so weren’t able to come. But that was understandable!

I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as we did.

Special Commendation Lunch

Today was the
Guide dog of the year lunch
That our team decided to hold for the nominees from Northern Ireland who didn’t make it to the ceremony itself in London at the start of July.

We were heading to
The titanic centre
To eat. I started to panick when i realised it was a “set menu” as i knew it probably would be something horrible.

The first impressions are that the centre is pretty big. It has underground parking at £1.50 per hour. (It’s a good job i put a point in there!). It is a very wide, cold open building. I was amazed at how packed it was!

We waited until everyone arrived. I chatted with the guide dog mobility assistant (GDMA) who trains the dogs, and Ushi was all over her pawing and going crazy.

I found the restaurant very loud when we walked in. Our cutlery then came in paper packets. I’m not sure why as the eating ends were pointed out the way. When our starter came it was presented on a wooden tray for each of us and it was in a cup. The soup was potato and leak, with cheese. Boy was it cheesy! I couldn’t finish it all as it was so rich. I felt a little sick with it. One person commented that it was more like a fondu.

Thankfully the main course was more exciting and it was the one i was looking forward to. It was chicken with crispy parcinips (thought it was potatos) and lentels. It was much more enjoyable thankfully.

We then went up to the “titanic” staircase to get a rare photo. Apparently nobody was allowed up there. Then it was down to another floor to see the clothes the actors wore. We came back to the restaurant again to get our certificates. They were presented in a lovely frame. Mine said “Specsavers guide dog of the year awards. Young persons achievement” and my name. It was signed by the chief executive of the whole organisation.

I would like to thank all the staff from the Northern Ireland team for nominating me. I felt priviliged.

As for the the Titanic centre, it seems rather posh, or at least that was my impressions. Don’t think i’d like to visit it again. Not for the tour anyway.

Thanks again to the district team!

Guide Dogs Fundraising Workshop:Meeting The Team

Today there was a workshop for branch organisers and treasurers, but any other branch members could go too. It was to explain the changes that have recently taken place between guide dogs and who does what now that the team all had different roles. Because of the recent stuff going on between the branch organiser i said i would go with the branch organiser so she didn’t have to be alone with the treasurer as things had kind of started to kick off again. It got to the point that she didn’t want to be in the same house as the treasurer.

We were orriginally going to get the train from a different station but when we discovered there was no parking we went to our local station just.

The treasurer wasn’t that bad on the way up and didn’t mention anything horrible.

We happened to arrive early for the workshop, so we went for some tea and toast instead at a local caffe.

At about 10 past 10 we headed over to the equality commission building which was where the workshop was being held. We were one of the first there. We were soon joined by Lark the retired guide dog who came trotting over to see Ushi. Then Inis the german sheperd came and a woman with a dog called Leena who was like a smaller version of Ushi. Along with a dog called Jumble. There was a puppywalker there too as well as some other organisers and treasurers.

We chatted for a while before a woman from Scotland came and started the day off. She is called a branch development coordinator and works to set up new branches. She is based in Scotland but covers Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north of England i think. She also said that there was a new handbook to be given to branches soon which would explain all the rules and regulations about fundraising and what could and what couldn’t be done.

Next was our community fundraisor, who I would have called the fundraising coordinator. I guess i should say their titles from now on because god knows who is reading.

Next, our volunteer development coordinator got up to explain about how what used to be known as the national volunteer office is not known as that any more and it is now called the “person resource office” or something. She explained all about new volunteer clothing that volunteers could wear if they wanted, but that they would have to pay. We all agreed this shouldn’t be happening, and that is something that will be looked in to. She also explained all about a new initiative called “volunteer voices” which means that there will be a group of volunteers selected to take issues forward other volunteers are having and feed it back to the guide dogs team. So for example if speakers are having an issue, whoever was a speaker on the forum would report the issue then report back to other speakers.

Next the mobility support supervisor said a few words about her role. She basically looks after all the admin staff. They would deal with all the enquiries coming into the team.

It was around lunch time, so we all stopped to stretch our legs and eat. The branch organiser braught me and her some sandwiches as the sandwiches served the last time we were at the equality commission were very small and didn’t have a wide selection. So we had some nice ham sandwiches and a goahead bar for afters. Ushi had some carrot sticks. I gave some to Leena who was in front of us too.

After a busy break for the dogs we were back on track again. Our community engagement officer spoke next. She goes out to talk about potential guide dog ownership within the local social services as well as with different organisations. She is also a “My guide” coordinator which is the name for the
Sighted guide
Training i took part in last year.

Next, it was the communications officer. (I can’t remember his title). He is responsible for anything to do with communications such as press releases, blogs, and anything else that is to do with PR.

Next it was the campaignes manager. He talked about all the campaigns Guide dogs are taking part in such as the talking busses, microchipping dogs, vat on dog food and shared streets. (The guide dogs site is crashing firefox, so i’m not going to link to each campaigne). The talking busses campaign has had some encouraging results. While there is no money available now for the audio visual information to be installed, when it next becomes available it is to get priority and all
Translink busses
Will have it installed. All that has to happen now is for the minister to release the money for it. I personally can’t wait to have the busses announcing each stop.

Finally it was back to the branch development coordinator who told us about the
Northern ireland facebook page
And what we could and couldn’t post on it.

The day dragged on at the end as with every role there were questions so it went on longer than intended. There will be more workshops throughout the year but they won’t be as long and will be a chance to compare experiences and pick up hints and tips.

Unfortunately we had a little problem on the way back. The gap for getting on the train was quite big so it panicked me a bit. Thankfully nothing happened. The conductor was great and held onto Ushi’s collar if she needed help up but thankfully she didn’t. She was reluctant to move forward. The conductor even asked if i would like the ramp put on but i explained that miss Ushi doesn’t like walking on metal which is a real shame.

But apart from that, it was a great, but tiring day.

Fife Society For The Blind Needs Your Help

I got this sent to me in an email the other day and thought it was a brilliant thing. I don’t live in Scotland but i think this would be extremely useful to help teach people to cook in a safe and secure environment. I would love to get back into cooking again but haven’t done it since about 4 years ago. So i’m badly out of touch. One day my sister asked me to stirr pasta and i totally panicked at the heat. I was going to get bump ons to stick on the cooker but don’t think they would last too long with a 3 year old brother!

Anyway here is the email. You can vote as much as you like i think.

Sent:Tuesday Sept 4
Update from News: Fife Society for the Blind need your help!!
Dear ******

An unusual News item, but one I feel is worth circulating.

Fife Society for the Blind are currently competing to win a house worth up to £250,000 courtesy of Persimmon Homes. They are representing the East of Scotland
against 23 other charities from across the UK and they are the only sight loss charity in the running. If they win, they would like to convert the house
into a bespoke demonstration and assessment home for blind and partially sighted people not only locally, but nationally, but they need your help to win.
You can vote for them by going to the link below:

Their application is below:

Serious sight loss affects 1 in 6 of us over the age of 60 and with more people living longer we face an increase in the current 2,200 blind and partially
sighted people we serve in Fife. The average person is age 85 years, lives alone and struggles to retain independence in the home.

We are committed to helping individuals to find solutions to everyday living and there are so many low cost and effective ways we can do this. Improved
lighting in the home, reduced glare from surfaces, lighter decoration to reflect good light, effective use of colour and tonal contrast to aid visibility
as well as a barrier free environment. In the kitchen we encourage tactile and high visibility marking of cookers, washing machines and microwaves.

If we won the house, we would be able to develop an assessment, demonstration and teaching environment based on a traditional domestic environment. We
would install controllable lighting in the living, kitchen and bathroom areas to enable us to advise and demonstrate to individuals how to modify their
own home. Decoration would be varied in different rooms showing how to enhance safety and ease of access for those with poor sight.

Individuals can learn how to cope, not in a classroom but in a home that similar to their own. For those younger clients needing to learn to cope living
away from home we will be able to provide an experience of shopping, storing, cooking, cleaning, bed making in a real home.


Go Walkies And Family Fun Day 22nd September

Over the last couple of years, Guide dogs have come up with a great way to help raise money. Take your dog for a walk! It’s simply called “go walkies”.

So this year the Antrim counscil contacted our fundraising coordinator up in Belfast saying they would like to hold an event for guide dogs and it was decided that our branch would do the event since we are closer and it covers our area. It was meant to be on the 18th August but had to be postponed with one thing and another.

It is now taking place on the 22nd September from 1 to 5 PM. The idea behind “go walkies” is that your dog gets sponsored. There are two routes to choose from-a 1.5 mile and a 3 mile route. Your dog gets sponsored and will receive a certificate and a tag for the dogs collar which says “guide dogs” on one side and “Ucanuba” on the other. (Ucanuba are sponsoring every go walkies event). You also get a voucher i think from Ucanuba but i’m not too sure. You can
Online before the event, or you can just turn up on the day.

If you don’t have a dog, don’t worry as there will be a family fun day taking place too. There will be a “titanic slide”, pony and trap rides, a police dog handler, possibly an outdoor climbing wall, card making, microchipping, and a petting zoo. It’s a great chance to meet other dogs and have a great time!

For anyone on facebook, there is an
Which you can share with your friends. So far we have at least 20 walkers who have decided to come.

Sorry this post isn’t my usual style of writing but i thought i’d write about it here. I hope to see alot of other dogs there! If anyone is around the Antrim area, or just want to come along, feel free.

It should be a good day!