The Antrim Show 2012

Today we were at the Antrim Agrecultural show again.

We weren’t really sure what way we were going to work it since two of our guide dog owners couldn’t make it. I said i was willing to do all day if it was necessary. (Here in the UK we are only allowed to have our dogs fundraising for two hours at a time).

I was up in Derry on Fridday for a volunteering event and street collection. I asked if the derry branch organiser would come up to help, but told him not to worry if he couldn’t. He agreed straight away and said that as long as someone could meet him off the train, he would come no problem.

So this morning, my rehab worker collected the guide dog owner at Ballymena train station and we then headed up to the show. My rehab worker was taking his kids up too, so we had a full car.

When we got there the two dogs got very excited as there was a pen full of little beegle pups that kids could pet. Of course the dogs wanted to play!

I decided to bring two bottles of water, since there were two guide dogs. They didn’t even last 5 minutes! Inis, who was the other guide dog drank the second bottle. Ushi wanted to drink out of the bowl any time Inis did because it was her bowl. Luckily there was plenty of water available during the day.

A woman and her husband came to help us with their dog Bradey. Bradey is a retriever. The woman works at
Legal island
Who we received a presentation from for £220 back in March I think. They want to become full time volunteers which is great. The husband has a background in sales and knows people from Antrim counscil. So he was wonderful at promoting our
Go walkies
Event which i’ll post about another day. I think they will be a great help to the branch, and it means we have some volunteers from Antrim, which we didn’t have before.

I was expecting the dogs to get restless since they hadn’t done a whole day before, but they were grand and just fell asleep. Ushi did have a full flood when we took her to pee at one point lol. But that was because she was being greedy with her water! At one point the branch organiser litterally had to hold her bowl up for her since she couldn’t be bothered moving to get a drink.

It was much quieter than last year but that could have been because there were some nasty showers about. Still we raised £301. It’s down from last year, but only by £49, and it was £301 we wouldn’t have had at the start of the day.

I’m so glad we were able to work the show. Normally we would have been covered for dogs, but the other two owners were on holiday. I would like to than the Derry branch organiser for coming up from Derry. The craic was great all day.

The Antrim Agricultural Show

I was off to another fundraising adventure today.

I was off to the Antrim Agricultural show. I was going to go off to another show in Antrim at the end of June, but we had a national collection on the 24th, (I didn’t take part in that), and the show would have been on the 25th and the 26th. The branch organiser had decided that it would have been too much for us all to do so much.

I wasn’t leaving until 20 past 1, so I had a very lazy morning. I did one walk before we left, as I’ve learnt that Ushi won’t really work after a tiring day, such as fundraising.

So when the treasurer of the branch collected me, we put Ushi in the boot of her car. (Don’t worry-it’s one of those estate cars with loads and loads of room for a dog). I’ve noticed that getting into this car Ushi is quite reluctant to get into this car. She gets into the guide dogs cars, but not this one. So I kind of have to put my knee up on the boot, and say “Big jump”. She does eventually get up in though, but it does take a bit of persuasion.

When we arrived, we were straight on grass. So I took the opportunity to let Ushi spend, but no luck. So I just walked in. (We were parked quite a way away from the main gate).

There was lots and lots going on. There were little Beegle pups all in a pen, horses, Ice cream vans, burger vans, tractors, ponie rides, and all the usual other things you’d find at an agrecultural show. There were also lots of other dogs (on leads thankfully), which my friend had sent me a text about giving me the heads up since she was there earlier than me.

So anyway we were just walking along the grass, and then I think the excitement might have overtook Ushi a little, because she spent. In a way i’m not surprised, because there were so many other things going on, not to mention it was all on grass, and I think some other dogs had gone before too. I always hate when she does that in harness (it’s thankfully rare, and is only in situations like this that she would go), but I still don’t like it. At least it was outside which was good. So after we dealt with that, we wondered on over to where the Guide dogs Exhibition vehicle was. (Remember that was the vehicle that we have been given by England to see if we will actually use it?).

Let me describe this vehicle. I didn’t look inside it until later, but i’ll do the describing now. This is basically a 30 foot long bus. The whole side of the bus opens out to reveal a set of four steps that go up into it. Inside there is a TV which shows informational DVDS about guide dogs, posters all around the wall, a “Leaflet” wall which has different leaflet information, a bench which could probably seat at least 10 people, and I think there is one on either side. On the roof there is a big “Guide dogs” flag. The back also comes out about 8 feet, and I think this is like a Markee type thing.

The whole vehicle costs basically the cost of a guide dog (£50,000 to support it throughout its working life). So a pritty expensive piece of kit! We didn’t know if we would get it as someone from Guide dogs had to learn how to drive it.

Anyway back to the main event.

We were sitting with the vehicle just behind us. Ushi was finding it really hard to settle. She kept sniffing the grass, then decided at one point to have a little roll around at my feet before finally settling down for a bit. I don’t know what was up. Most of the time she was good, but something happened at one point which really irked me. I’m probably making a big deal out of nothing, but i’ll explain.

Ushi at one point decided to walk behind my chair. The treasurer took her lead and I thought she would give me it back. But instead she gave her to another volunteer (I know this volunteer), but that’s not the point. The treasurer then said to me “X is taking Ushi for a walk just to calm her down a bit”. Number 1, Ushi is my dog, and number 2, yes while she was finding it hard to settle I was able to manage her. I explained that I didn’t want that, but the woman was like “she’s fine she’s not taking her very far”. I still said that I wanted Ushi here, but decided to go off and get a burger since my attempts to get the volunteer to come back weren’t really working. When I came back the woman was like “I can’t see X anywhere”. This was really really bad. Luckily she did come back, and it turned out they only went on a 5 minute walk, but that really isn’t the point! When I was about to eat my burger the volunteer was like “I’ll hold her while you eat your burger”. No you bloody well won’t! I just explained politely that I would tie Ushi to my chair leg and that was what I did. Ushi then lay under a table where she could get some shade.

I wouldn’t have minded at all if the volunteer had said to me if I wanted her to take Ushi for a walk, but she didn’t. (I probably would have gone with her anyway). I would have had control of Ushi. In the environment we were in, it was very risky in my oppinion to take her. This volunteer didn’t know how to control Ushi at all, she probably wouldn’t have known how the half check collar works, what to do if Ushi made a mad rush for something, while the other animals were in pens Ushi was very very pully both going in and out of the show, there were kids running round with ice cream, lots of noises, other dogs, and just general mayhem. Plus the fact that I didn’t know where she was being taken too!

It turned out it wasn’t even 5 minutes, but it just really got to me. I think it was the fact that she did it without asking my permission which was a huge no no.

Okay it might have looked like she was really unsettled and that I couldn’t control her, but I knew what to do with her.

I didn’t say anything of course, but it was just the thoughtlessness. I’ve probably made it sound really horrible, but I thought it was polite to ask in the first place. Grrrrrar’r’r’r’r’r!


We had loads of little kids coming up to us to try and win a dog from the Tumbola, and of course to say Hi to Ushi! Normally with the Tumbola there are a few people interested, but I felt this was the main part of our table as there seemed to be a constant stream coming up. Maybe that was because I was positioned at the Tumbola side. Loads of people won cuddly guide dogs too.

For the last half an hour or so, me and a couple of others just sat in the exhibition vehicle. I thought this was a really useful place for dog and owner to chill, as there wasn’t anyone bothering Ushi for a start, and it was cooler too. She just lay down right at the top of the steps lol. While a few people did come up to see us, it wasn’t as busy as the outside.

The only thing about the vehicle is that if it rained you would have no shelter, as it only is covered when everything is put away.

It was a beautiful day, and compared to the
The Ballymena Show
It was a hell of alot busier and the weather was nicer.

I only wish I had put Ushi’s halty on, but was assured by the treasurer that “you’ll not need it since it’s not that far from the car”. It might not have been that far, but there was so so so much going on. So it wasn’t really one of Ushi’s better days, and for our next fundraising activity (a “Bark In The Park” which is on the 6th of August)or something, i am not going to listen to what the treasurer has to say. At the end of the day it is me on the other side of the lead, so I need to do what is comfortable for me. If that means putting on the Halty, then so be it. (I usually take Ushi’s harness off when we’re settled a bit and don’t usually put it back on).

So apart form my little incident earlier, it was a good day, topped off by the cracking weather!

Ushi can you please try to be a bit more settled next time, please?

I’ll let you know how the next fundraising thing goes (If you are all still interested!).