Guide Dog Training Day 2:It’s Dog Day

Today was the day we’d all been waiting for-the day when we got our dogs.

We all headed down for breakfast at about 8 o’clock, where we all had a very leisurely breakfast. We then headed up to the lounge area in the hotel for 9 o’clock. The instructors had a meeting they had to attend, so we chilled in our rooms until about half 10.

When we returned to the lounge again, we were handed a bag of equipment for our dogs. We all had to pick a piece of equipment and describe it so that we could find it ourselves. We got the handle for the harness, the harness itself, some reflective slap on arm bands, a sign that says “please don’t distract me” for the harness, a play collar, a whistle and lanyard, a shammy, a comb, a zoom groom, a chest reflector, a lead reflector, bells for the play collar, a little disc which said “do not feed” for the play collar, a nylabone and a fancy type of brush with a soft bristled side and a hard brissled side which looked almost like a human brush.

After this, we headed back to our rooms until our dogs were braught in. As soon as Vivvy was braught in, she ran straight over to me wagging away to herself. She had a quick snuffle around before lying down and having a good chew at her bone. I was then left to bond with her for the next hour. She braught her bone over to me and we threw it for a while. Goodness, she is like the energiser bunny when it comes to playing. She would play and play and play if i let her. She brings things right back to me, either giving it to me directly or dropping it at my feet. This was certainly a bit of a shock to the system compared to Ushi. This is a good thing though because while i can compare things that Ushi did with what Vivvy does, it also means i can’t really dwell on the differences because she is so much more different than Ushi was. I braught a toy of Ushi’s for her to play with and we played with it for quite a while with her keeping coming back for more.

We practiced some obedience in the hotel after this, such as how to go through doors and getting Vivvy to find doors. I noticed we tell the dogs to go “straight on” whilst walking on the lead, where as with Ushi, you just walked the dog on the lead telling them to “steady” and such. One thing i did noticed though is the fact that the dogs are in flat collars now where as when i had Ushi, she was in a half check collar. I can certainly notice more tention when walking her on the lead in the flat collar. I am sure this will come in time the more we bond. I do have a gentle leader though if i need it which is like a halty, only not as complicated to put on. This goes around her head and nose and just slows her down just that little bit. She won’t need this for working though.

We dropped Vivvy off in my room with the news for company before we headed down to the beastro area for lunch after this, before i headed off with one of the other instructors to learn about doing health checks on our dogs and what to look out for and when to call Guide dogs or the vet. We also had to manage our dogs in the lounge and stop them trying to play with each other and crawl over to each other.

I then went back to my room before the instructor came in again. Unfortunately Vivvy Vivvy was out free running the other day and developed a little rash after getting caught on something. She had licked at it a bit so she is on antibiotics and some hibiscrub wash for a few days until it clears up. A bottle of diluted hibiscrub and her antibiotics were braught in along with some cotton wool. We then took Vivvy down to the lounge to get her food ready for the evening and tomorrow morning. Vivvy is on 150 grams of food for each meal which is very handy. It was a bit of a challenge walking back to the room with the instructor carrying the food so i think i will prepare her food when she is in my room rather than bringing her with me.

When we got back to my room, i was shown how to give Vivvy her antibiotics. She gets 1 and a half tablets twice a day. I was amazed that she just took the tablets as if they were treats. I hope this continues as this would be really handy for worming time. Time will tell on this one i think. We then put some of her hibiscrub wash on before i fed her so that she wouldn’t likc herself. This little girl certainly knows she is a lab and her food was gone in no time.

It was down for a very relaxed dinner time while Vivvy chilled out in my room. We have just been relaxing since we came up to the room again. We have had a little play with the lobster toy, but i have put it away for the night. She wasn’t happy that it was put away, but after taking her out for her last busy, i lifted her water for the night as we do this in the early days to make sure they don’t need to pee in the middle of the night. She wasn’t too happy where i had put her bed and wouldn’t really settle so i have moved her bed beside my bed and she has stayed on it contentedly.

Vivvy is deffinetly very different to Ushi and i must remember this. I am hoping she will fit nicely in to my life after all the little kinks are ironed out. I am looking forward to working her in the next few days.

Guide Dog Training Day One:orientation

It’s the end of the first day at the hotel and i’m sitting watching “I’m a Celebrity get me out of here”. Normally i wouldn’t watch any of this, but i mainly have it on for background noise while i write up the entry for today. I had planned to record each day using the voice memos app, but i couldn’t find a way to copy it over to the blog post, so if anyone has any ideas as to how to do this, please do let me know.

So today started around 9 o’clock. I got the train at 10 o’clock, and was met in Belfast by my rehab worker and another client where we were taken to the hotel and introduced to the other clients and the instructors taking the class. After everyone had arrived, we were taken to our rooms to leave off our bags and start to get ourselves orientated.

The hotel has kindly converted one of the bedrooms in to a lounge area with sofas and things so that we can meet and have talks or just chill out. We met up again there to discuss how class works, before we all headed down for lunch.

After lunch, it was more orientation, before

We did some work with an instructor and a lead without a dog. This was looking at going through doors and walking down the corridor. We then headed out to do some work on an empty harness, practicing our foot positions and turns. We then headed back inside, before heading down to the lounge area to have some cake to celebrate one of the rehab workers birthdays.

We headed down to dinner for about half 6, and now we are all chilling out in our rooms ready for tomorrows’ activities.

We are getting our dogs tomorrow so the hard work begins.

I will try to write each day, but i might not manage to do so. I will still record though and then transcribe them in to writing later if i need to. I am looking forward to getting Vivvy tomorrow and i hope you will enjoy my entries over the next couple of weeks.

Meet Vivvy

a tiny yellow lab/retriever sits beside me looking at me.

Towards the end of October, i had a call about a potential match with a guide dog and was asked if i would like to go for a walk. i really wasn’t expecting this call yet and prepared myself for the fact that it could be up to a year before i could get that call so needless to say, I was more than a little surprised to be hearing something so soon.

an instructor came out to see me the next morning with a potential dog for me. She was a little black lab. This girl was nice and had a good temprament, but she was ever so slightly on her toes in that she was nearly moving before you’d even thought of the “forward” command. It wasn’t a huge difference with her tention, but i think over time i’d have noticed her speed and may have struggled with the tention. The instructor happened to have another little girlie in the car but she really didn’t think they would be good for me as she can take a little while to get confident. I said i would give her a try anyway and i’m glad I did.

As soon as she was braught out of the car to meet me, she went nuts. She started bouncing around me and running in between my legs wagging away to herself. I was beginning to wonder if this would be such a good idea given how lively she was. Once we put the harness on her though, she calmed right down which was a good sign. I decided to do a 20 minute block walk to see what her speed and tention in the harness was like. Immidiatly i knew through the harness that this was a much nicer tention. She was very responsive to my commands and given that we’d never done this route with her, she was pretty good at it.

Once we’d finished the walk, we decided that it would be a good idea to walk her on a route that she knew, so i got the train up to Holywood roughly a week later to walk with her again. This time was a lot calmer when she greeted me which was good to see. She was still very wiggly out of harness, but she wasn’t bouncing or running in between my legs which was a relief. Again, once the harness went on, she was very calm and focused. There wasn’t much difference in her speed which was good and she was stepping out nicely. We went for a coffee after the walk so that i could see what her social behaviour was like and again, she didn’t disappoint. She lay quietly under the table and fell asleep for a while which was brilliant as i like a dog to know that even though they are not working, i still expect them to lie quietly and not be disruptive.

I did another couple of walks last week and at the start of this week with her and she was brilliant. She can take a while to get her confidence up, but the instructors have told me that this will come in time and not to pile too much on her for a while. She is very confident in busy conditions and gets a lot of her confidence from whoever is working her. She is very mature when she is working and doesn’t like to get things wrong. This was totally different with Ushi who really dug her heels in and needed me to be quite firm at times. Sometimes, the walks did feel a little disjointed or something, but i had worked Ushi for 7 and a half years, so this is starting from scratch.

Now that the IS have been dotted and the Ts crossed, i will start training on the 26th November with Vivvy. I realy can’t wait and at least this time i will know what to expect in a way. I will be training at the La Mon again for two weeks before starting my home routes. I really do think she will be another great match and in time we will be out flying again. It still hasn’t really sunken in yet though as i honestly thought i’d be waiting at least a year before another dog that could cope with my expanding work load was found but it is quicker than i thought. Here are two more photos to finish. She is looking at me in all of them. Here’s to the next chapter of guide dog ownership 🙂

a yellow lab/retriever sits looking up at me.

Prochive Collapsible Silicone Lightweight Coffee Cup, Reusable Folding Mug Travel Cup Leak Proof Water Bottle for Outdoor Camping Hiking & Office Home Use “Snorkle Blue”

A few months ago, our local


Had announced that they would gradually be doing away with their plastic cups. I didn’t even know collapsable cups were a thing, but a quick search on Amazon braught up the Prochive cup. This is a tiny cup that folds up to the size of a tub of moisturiser so perfect to fit in a pocket or bag.

The cup is very simply packaged. The cup itself is wrapped in what feels like a thick cloth, which is then wrapped in what feels like tissue paper or thin plastic. The cup will be folded when you unwrap it. If you turn it upside down, a holder to slide the cup in to will be sticking out. This needs to be removed before expanding the cup. When you turn the cup the right way up again, there is a sooth bit of silocone which if you push it slightly with one hand and lifting the lid with the other, it is easier to take off. The cup will then expand when you push the inside of it. It expands to the size of a standard take away cup that you’d find in most coffee shops. The cup holder then goes on with the wider part of the holder pointing to the top of the cup and the bottom of the cup going through the narrow part of the holder. The lid fits securely and has a cover for the whole that you drink out of.

There is a slight smell from the cup when you first use it, but if you rince it out a few times it should be fine. The cup isn’t hot to hold so it probably wouldn’t keep the heat for too long but drinks are still hot if you drink them as soon as you have poured them. The cup can sometimes leak if the holder is put on the wrong way as it squeezes the cup slightly.

Other than that, i really do love this little cup. It fits neatly in a pocket and many coffee shops offer discounts if you use it instead of a normal take away cup.

The link to buy the cup is