Grand For Another Year

Today was my regular aftercare. This is where the trainers/instructors come out to see us and make sure we are working well.


I was rather nervous since i’ve mentioned here that Ushi is 35 kilos. She should really be about 30, but i haven’t been able to get it off her, even though i’m working her twice a day, and cutting food down if she has got a free run. Thank god it was the instructor who was coming who trained with me and Ushi, and not the instructor that is for our area.


So the instructor rang me at about 20 to three. I decided to go for coffee and then we could discuss any issues i was having and also look at Ushi’s health book. We had some stops but there was no reason why she was stopping. She was just playing up a bit.


The instructor had a long chat with me about everything and anything, before discussing Ushi. She said how proud she was with me and Ushi, and that we seemed like a really well gelled partnership. I said about how she sticks at one of her kerbs and won’t cross, but the instructor said it was just Ushi being Ushi. She noticed that sometimes the harness slides forward, but just to pull back on the handle, and if she crosses my boddy, i can move the handle to the side. I didn’t know the handle could move to the side.


One of the times Ushi stopped, a man helped me. I thought it was our district team manager and was panicking, but thankfully it wasn’t.


The instructor said she was very slightly concerned about Ushi’s weight. I explained what food she was on and how if we have a free run she gets half a milk bone when she comes back. I explained how last year i didn’t cut them out of her food and she went up to 36 kilos. I now take a few handfuls out of her dinner if she has had a free run. That has braught her down to 34 or 35 kilos. My instructor thought i had said 45 kilos which nearly gave me a heart attack! She said that i’m doing all the right things, but maybe if i actually get her to run rather than just sniffing which she is doing on her free runs. She says that this just means she is more settled, and she isn’t getting bored, she is just more settled and contented just to sniff. She says if another dog runs with her it might make her run, and if i bring something to throw it might make her run a bit more. She says that she doesn’t want to change Ushi’s food unless she really has to. I’m to keep her up to date with her weight and then they will decide what food she should be changed to. We don’t want to mess with that if we don’t have to.


I’m so relieved that her weight isn’t as much of a problem as i thought. But i still need to keep an eye on it. The instructor also said that there is no other person who could work with Ushi. So that made me feel like i was the bees knees!


So let’s hope that her weight can go down by a couple more kilos. The instructor said that as long as she is around 33 kilos that would be acceptable. I was so so worried about her weight. I knew i could still feel her ribs, but i was still worried!


So hopefully everything will go on as well as they have for the next year! I hope that she doesn’t have to be switched to another food!


I’m so glad it went well!

That’s Me For A Year

Today I had an aftercare visit from Guide dogs. This is to make sure me and Ushi are still working well and to make sure we don’t have any issues or anything. My last aftercare was
Back in April
(When we qualify we are visited in a couple of weeks after qualification, then it is at 6 weeks, then 3 months, 6 months, then each year after that unless we have a problem.

For some reason i was a little nervous of this upcoming visit. I was kind of expecting a lecture about Ushi’s weight or something.

I decided to work Ushi first before we had our aftercare visit. Unfortunately I crossed a little early at one of my crossings, and we ended up totally lost. I asked a kind woman what the problem was and thankfully she pointed me in the right direction. I’m just glad she didn’t decide to do it when we had aftercare.

On the way home i heard these kids shouting for someone (I think it was their dog as Ushi quickened up her step and i heard a woman saying “She’ll come back”) so that kind of panicked me a bit, but no dog came which was good. One little kid even asked me if i was okay! So I don’t know what had happened.

We had a bit of a chill time before my instructor came. She decided that she would ring me beforehand, and then she would walk behind me but far enough so that Ushi couldn’t see her. Normally she would travel in her car but she wasn’t sure where I was going, so followed on foot.

We had only some ocasional issues on our walk, but they were things like being a bit hesitant at some of her kerbs, but i just gently hold the lead in my right hand and encourage her forward. We had a sniff too, and at one point she decided to slow way down, but apart from that, she was grand! I was surprised since she tends to be a bit of a madam when she knows it’s aftercare.

My instructor says we’re working well which is good. She says that Ushi has quite a high tail and that she looks happy. She said that she noticed that Ushi tended to anticipate where we were going when we were crossing a road, and would ever so slightly veer in that direction. While nothing major, she says that I can just step up on her a bit more so that she can’t do it and that it is me who makes the decisions, not her. She asked how her social behavior and that was and i said it was all grand.

She then wanted to see Ushi’s health book which is the book that we take to the vets that has a record of her health and enables guide dogs to pay for our vet bills. I was a little nervous about this. I said that i had changed her food from 150 grams in the morning to just 100. She still gets 150 in the evening. She said not to go lower than 100 as Ushi would start to scavenge around the house for food. She says that if i can’t get the extra weight off, they might have to think about switching her food. We both agree that that would be a last resort, as i like how she is spending and how she is clean on walks at the minute. (She is on Royal Cannin Maxi sensible). It sounds awful posh for dog food!

That was basically all that was talked about. Apart from that Ushi’s “optimum weight” has been upped from 29 Kilos to 30 Kilos. (The optimum weight is the weight that guide dogs feels their dogs should be at depending on the size of the dog). I think they are a bit strict on the dogs weights, but that’s for another time.

The next time i will get a visit from an instructor is in a years’ time unless i need anything. I’m a bit sad at this, but it is good that we are having no issues and don’t need as regular input. I like to know i’m doing things right though. If i have any problems, i can just lift the phone and there will be someone there if i have any issues.

I was quite pleased with how today went. I had nothing to be nervous about!

Oh and
In my Last post
I’ve got some updated news and a petition. I’ll post that tomorrow maybe. I don’t want to bombard you with posts lol!

Regular Aftercare

Today I had an aftercare visit. It was the first aftercare visit since January. I had saw the instructor back in February, but that wasn’t a sheduled aftercare.

I emailed my main instructor last week because I was rather confused about
Ushi’s Last vet visit
I explained that i was really unsure about what to believe about her Front line treatment and her worming tablets. They said that the worming tablet should be twice a year, and the Front line should be every month in the summer and ever 2 in the Winter. (The Dog Care And Welfare Advisor confirmed this). My instructor said that I needed to follow guide dogs advice on the issue, and that if the vets followed a different Front line and worming routine, then the dog care and welfare advisor must know.

I also asked about fundraising, and I’ve got the official go ahead. My instructor just said that it would be best to not rush into things. (I’ve got another post on that).

I also said that Ushi was now 33 kilos (i admit i haven’t been doing as many walks a day as I should). My instructor said that it was really important that I did work her twice a day now since the weather is getting better. She said to weigh her in a couple of weeks just to see if that was making a difference. So since about Thursday of last week i’ve been working a nice long walk twice a day. It’s hard when you’re bored though!

So on Friday afternoon, I got an email asking if I was free today for an aftercare visit. This was with the instructor for my area, not my main instructor. (Now that i’m qualified the instructor for each area usually does aftercare unless they are unavailable for some reason). I said that I was free and she asked me what route I was going to do. I said I wanted to just do our church walk, since I would be in town in the morning anyway.

This morning however, I had a little time to kill before I needed to be at the quilting, so i thought i’d take her up to see if she could find Subway in the food courte. Well she found subway, but we had major difficulties knowing where the stairs up were. She first of all just ignored me and went straight on as if to o’bryans where I quilt, but i got her to go back, and we eventually found the steps. On the way down she nearly walked me onto the escalator too, which would have been a bad bad idea. (Escalators =cut paws).

When we got down the stairs again I couldn’t find the way to O’bryans, so I just found the door and acted as if I had just come in. I think I might have confused the girl lol.

I finished my quilting at about 12 o’clock, so that she could have a rest and that before our next adventure.

Well Ushi didn’t really want to rest lol. I went down to get an ice cube for her, and she found Ashes squeaky ring. Ash doesn’t play with it so I think Ushi is like “Well I may as well!” lol. She tore up and down the stairs with it, and then I took her outside and threw it for her loads. She then lay down in the grass lol. (She also found the ring this morning after her busy, and I wondered why she was so hyper! The wee minx had braught it upstairs!).

After that long play, it was after 1 o’clock. So a quick check of the old emails, then it was time to spend her before our walk.

Since we had so much trouble with the stairs this morning, I decided to do the subway route instead of the church one. (I figured having some eyes look at it would help).

Of course Ushi was a wee brat! First of all she didn’t come in from her spend making us a tiny bit late, then she decided to nose up someone’s driveway with it’s front door open, and on the way back she decided to stop a bit, and stopped just short of her kerbs too. Maybe she knew she had aftercare!

We had a bit of trouble knowing when to tell her to “find the steps” but she was grand after a couple of times. Me however found it hard coming out again as from the counter you have to go forward then go right immediatly. I didn’t really understand what the instructor meant though so got it wrong quite a bit lol. (Think she was beginning to lose patience). I got it eventually, but was still a little hesitant at the stairs since there is no tactile markers at the top, so I have to go on pure trust and getting the timing right to tell her when to find them. By the fourth time of trying to do the short journey from the food courte, Ushi got a bit bored and started to switch off, and some really giggly girls started petting her so she was all over the place.

We headed home after that for a short time.

The instructor says that I am handling her great, although she says that I need to get a touch bit more firmer with her when she really is being a minx. (She doesn’t understand how patient I am with Ushi lol).

I went and collected my health book because the instructor needed it for her aftercare report that she has to fill in, gave Ushi some water, and we were off in the car to learn how to get on and off busses. I had mentioned trains, but she said that she would rather I got used to busses first of all. (I asked again later and she says she will call me at some point when she’s able to teach me them). I hope it is soon as trains are much better than busses!

Anyway we went to the bus station to find a bus we could practice on. We got on one of the big busses (the Gold Liners I think they are called). First of all, I learnt that the harness comes off before you even get on the bus. This is because there isn’t much room on the bus to take it off. I didn’t know this at all. I would get her to “find the steps” then get her to wait while I went up them. (Deffinetly a slow steady pace for this as the steps to a bus are quite deep!). I then would get my ticket, turn right, and say “over” or “In” once there was an empty seat available. I would site down first, with my feet in the isle. I then would tell her to “come” and then get her to sit (or lie down if she wanted), and make sure her tail was nice and snug between my legs. That was basically it. The further back I would go, the harder it would be for the dog, but that’s not to say it couldn’t be done. The only other seat you would need to worry about would be a single seat, though you would just sort of shift her round so her bum was under the seat. Of course missy decided it would be better to lie down in the isle rather than in at my feet!

I asked the instructor if I could at some point visit my friend, and she says that as long as I was in control of my dog it should be grand. She says to practice a bit getting on and off busses first though. (Maybe when me, dad and sis go to Portrush we can all go on the bus with Ushi? I figure she might as well enjoy the sea too!).

The instructor won’t be seeing me for another 6 months unless I have a problem, and she will let me know about the trains.

So it was a good day apart form Ushi being a wee minx! It must have worn her out though lol as she was quite tired afterwards. She did manage another walk though at about 8 o’clock which was good.

I suppose the busses are a good starting point, but a little disappointed about the trains! I hope I do actually use the bus though. I would need to make sure that the bus driver was going to tell me my stops though.

I’m off to bed now-it’s been a long day!

Todays Aftercare

Remember a few posts ago I told you that I was going to have aftercare last week but it was canceled? Well I had it today.

I was going to email my other instructor who is now back from training in England on Sunday, but decided not to. I got a phone call from the current instructor working with me to ask if today at 1 o’clock would be okay. It was.

This morning I decided to get up early after the morning routine, to give Ushi a good groom. Since it was such a nice day, I decided to do a walk before aftercare.

On the walk, I met my friend and her guide dog who were just heading home from doing some work. the two dogs were a little excited to see each other, but once we got them sitting and told them no, they were grand. Although my friends dog kept barking every so often lol. They left shortly after, and I went on my way.

There was a van parked shortly afterwards, and Ushi took me up a driveway to get past it, but decided to go into someone’s open front door! Some lovely ladies got me back on track though. I love nice people!

The rest of the walk was uneventful.

When we got back to the house, some men were working at our electric meter cupboard. Of course everything was left all over the place!

Shortly afterwards, my instructors rang me to let me know that they were ready for me. We agreed that I wouldn’t ask for help unless I needed them, and they would stay in their cars. They didn’t want Ushi to be distracted by them. Before we left, they asked if i wanted to do the walk since I had been out earlier! Of course I wanted to!

I set off with a little bounce in my step for some reason.

The walk went uneventful again. I was fully prepared as we went out of the shops that she was going to stop, but she didn’t at all! I was ready to curse her! Of course I was glad that she didn’t, but I wanted to show the instructors that she was doing it! She was a little distracted on the way home, and missed a couple of kerbs, but apart from that, she was grand! Maybe she just wanted to test me since she probably knew it was aftercare.

The instructors said that they were really pleased with me. They were pleased that I was able to handle her, and didn’t let her get away with anything. They said that compared to how she used to be when we first started that she has made massive improvements! I hadn’t noticed!

They said that her stopping was probably that she was bored. They are going to leave me a few months (I was hoping to learn trains this month, but we can’t have everything). Anyway they want me to head further into town, either with my dad first, then on my own. They said I could just go out of the shopping centre, and it’s practically straight down to the next shopping centre. So i’ll have to see how adventurous I am feeling. They said that her problem is that she can get bored of routes quite quickly. They are impressed at how good i am at solving problems too!

So hopefully we’ll find something to do route wise.

Oh and I also explained our down problem, and they say it’s just her being stubborn.

I was pleased with how today went. Happy days! And they wouldn’t be leaving me so long if they didn’t think i was ready.

She was a bit of an imp this morning though. I let her wonder around and do her business without me going down to the garden with her. She wouldn’t come up, so I went to investigate. She had a stick in her mouth and each time I went to grab it, she played chasies! I shouted at her for that and just went down with her afterwards.

We also had a bit of an incident last night while playing. My friend baught her a blanket that I think mentioned before. We sometimes would tug it a little. We were in the middle of this last night, when I got it off her, and she went to grab the blanket, but she caught my leg! I squealed, and the poor girl wouldn’t bother with me for like an hour afterwards! Poor woman! I hadn’t even corrected or anything.

So the aftercare was a great success I think. Just think, 3 months from now, i’ll be 7 months qualified! Wow!

A Visit From The District Team Manager

I know that title might sound scarey to some, but it really isn’t….

I said in
A previous post,
That we were having problems with Ushi stopping loads on our route. I decided that enough was enough, and phoned the district team yesterday. I explained what was happening, and the guide dog mobility instructor didn’t know what the problem was. She said she would have a chat to some of her colleagues, to see what was up. She rang me back a couple of minutes later, and said that the district team manager would come out tomorrow (today) to see what the craic was. I was slightly nervous at this fact, but the manager is also a guide dog mobility instructor which is good. It still made me nervous though, since he was the manager and all, and I guess I was worried about what could be happening with Ushi, and that I was just worried in case I was doing something wrong or anything.

So I got up bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for the day today. I got Ushi nice and spruced up too, giving her a really good groom just to make her look lovely. I groomed her last night too, so she must have been wondering what was up, since I usually groom every other day.

So at about half 10, the manager arrived. I will call him the instructor from now on, since he still is an instructor, just one who also happens to manage the team! Ushi got very very hyper, and started jumping up at him (she hasn’t really done that before). He said to just ignore that, but correct her when she did that. I think because he was a man (she reeeeeeally likes men) that that was why she did that.

I told him exactly what the problem was, and he said that some dogs do stop sometimes. He said that it probably wasn’t my fault, (which I was so glad to hear!). She was being a pain though and trying to lie away from me. He said to give her a jerk back, then when she was where I wanted her, just to praise her and ignore her. He then asked what Ushi did when I corrected her, and I said that sometimes she did a little whiny thing. It was hard to explain.

So we decided to actually go for a walk. I didn’t really know how far we would get to be honest, so decided to play it by ear. When we get out of the house, we would usually go to the kerb, but the instructor suggested that we just do a right turn as soon as the path started to widen as this was when we were out of our driveway. So we did our right turn, and we had a stoppage. The instructor suggested that I lengthen the lead, keeping it relaxed, and giving it a flick forward, which got her to go. She had her bounce back in her step. I managed to get her to do the big walk!!!!! I was so happy!!! She did try to stop, but we weren’t waiting as long as we were before!!! I hope though that she doesn’t decide to do that whole stopping thing tomorrow like last week though!

The instructor says that it won’t get better overnight, and that if it continues, then that they might have to encourage me to use maybe a treat or that, just to keep her going, and if she is getting bored. He will discuss it with the other instructors first though which is good. He also said that when I am telling her to “pay attention” I usually flick the handle down. He said that that isn’t really effective on that type of harness. I said to him that I like that harness, and he said they weren’t going to change the type I used which was good. It was just because that handle is at the side of the harness she might not feel it as well. He said though to keep doing what I was doing, and that I could even get her up on to one of the up kerbs, and that I could drop my handle, and get her to come in beside me and really really go to town with the praise. He said that would keep her motivation up too.

I was so pleased though. He is going to chat to my other instructor, and I will see her sometime next week anyway.

I am so pleased with how today went, and that I wasn’t doing anything wrong which was a huge huge relief.

Here’s hoping the next few days are better!!!!

On a side note:we are getting our kitchen done up after christmas. They are basically extending the kitchen, and knocking down a wall and that to do that. I am just worried about how the noise of the men working will effect the pooch. Any ideas? Have any of you had your house worked on with a guide dog? Thanks!

Encouraging Aftercare

I got a call yesterday from the instructor asking if i wanted her to come down today.  I explained that that would be really helpful, and then explained about her stopping loads and all.   She said she would see what Ushi was up to.  Orriginally she was just coming down for a regular aftercare.
So at 10 o’clock this morning, we set out bright eyed and bushy tailed.  We agreed that the instructor would only step in if I really really really needed it.
When we got to our first down kerb, that was when the problems started.  She was very slow to go right.  There is a barking dog we go past all the time, but she is usually grand with it.  When we got to our first road crossing, she wouldn’t go forward at all.  My instructor then came, and told me to really be positive with my voice.  Yes I would correct if she needed it, but basically to be much more positive.  She then quickly got on with it.
The instructor says that when she stops for no apparent reason, to give a little jerk forward on the lead with your right hand, and again talk in a really positive voice.
I found the walk flowed a hell of alot more, and she just walked perfectly.
The instructor says that she was probably stopping because she remembered there was an obsticle.  I didn’t think that would bother her, but apparently they will remember.
The instructor also says that she will pick up if i am frustrated or anything, so just to make sure that the walk is fun for her, but that you are firm at some points if you need to be.
There was one point where I was telling Ushi to “let’s go”,  but you should only use the “forward” after a stop.  It’s either “forward” or “straight on” for when she is moving.
When we got back to the house, I explained that I had baught Ushi a new toy, and that we had a good pull on it loads.  She says that that could also help her when working too.  I explained that I was thinking of going up to Belfast sometime before christmas, but she says that it would be better for Ushi if she was left at home.  She would enjoy that much more than if she had to contend with busy streets of Belfast.  She says that I can start taking Ushi on the lead out to more places in town.  Just to get her used to the area for when we do start working it.   I can either keep the harness on or just have the lead.  I think I will just keep the harness on though.  I must make sure that dad brings me up to the correct kerbs, and that he tells me what way we are turning etc.  (I will be doing it with my dad).  He is not actually teaching me the route, just preparing me for when we work it, and to make Ushi a bit more comfy with doing more work further afield.  The instructor says there is no rush though.  What we can do is I can work Ushi up to the shop, and then take dads arm.  That will be cool.
I can’t believe that all I needed to do was put on a more positive voice!  I was getting really worried over nothing as usual!  I really hope that this week is much more positive than last week.  Last week was deffinetly a rough one.  Thanks so much for all your encouragement.  I know it will come right in time, it’s just getting there that’s the hard part.