Two Talks To Two Schools

Today and yesterday i was doing two talks to two schools. It was great. The first was
Carninny primary school
Where the fair was back in November, and the second was a school in Ballymoney.


My rehab worker had rang me last week to see if i would do a talk to his sons P1 class. Of course i said yes. I rang our fundraising branch organiser as i was running out of badges which i give to the kids. I think they say “i’m a guidedog hero” or something. I like each kid to get something though when i do a talk. I got another 30 badges so that was good.

So my rehab worker dropped his son off before going and getting me. My rehab worker talked a bit about what his job was and i had braught my cane to show them. I then talked a bit about Ushi and what she did. We explained about how much it cost for me to get a dog and used the 50P as what a bar of chocolate costs.

I explained that Ushi learning to be a guidedog meant she had to go to school then bigger school when she knew a bit about how to guide.

We then got them to ask questions. One little boy asked me how ushi helped me see. I explained that Ushi was like their mum or dad holding their hand. She took me round things that were on the pavement. I explained that some people thought the dog crossed the road but i had to be the mum or dad and tell her when to cross. I explained that Ushi’s harness was like her coat and she only wore it when we were going out.

Another kid asked the same question so to explain it my rehab worker got up and closed his eyes. He then walked into a couple of the kids chairs. He then took my cane and showed them how he didn’t hit the chair that time. They seem to understand that.

I explained to always ask when wanting to pet a guidedog and that they can’t have human food as it would make them very sick.

I think it was pets after that. I can’t remember any questions anyway lol. They all surrounded her basically. Ushi of course loved every minute, but one little kid fell on his bum because Ushi was wagging so hard lol.

I then gave them all badges and their teacher a copy of the braille alphabet as the kids like to learn how i read.

We then had a bit of a fiasko as i didn’t remember putting my cane away after showing it to the kids. I had put it away though so that wasn’t too bad.

The P 6 teacher then came down to ask the kids what they had learnt before getting his class settled. (We only found out the day before that we were doing it as the kids in that class wanted to fundraise for us).

This was a much smaller class. We were going to just do where we talked before questions, but we launched straight into the questions.

The first question took me by surprise really. A little girl asked “can we visit the care place?”. I thought she meant the guidedogs office up in Belfast and was all ready to say yes when my rehab worker whispered that that wasn’t what she meant. She had thought that we lived in a carehome or something but i said i lived with my family just like they did.

After that awkward question, we got onto more things like what things i found difficult since i couldn’t see. They had written out instructions for making a cup of tea, and i explained that i first of all filled the cup with the amount of cold water first to make sure i could carry it before it was hot. I would then put that cup into the kettle and that way there were less chance of scalds. I then said i couldn’t really just reach out and grab the cup-i’d have to find it first. We said that there was liquid level indicators that beeped to let you know when the cup was full.

I said that cooking was a chalenge and that i could cook but hadn’t done it in about 4 years so am probably a bit rusty. We got them to describe what would be dangerous about cooking if you couldn’t see.

We then talked a bit about how much a guidedog costs, why there was no age limmit any more, why it was lowered, and some ideas about fundraising. Ushi was then taken round each student.

We talked about the
Sponsor a puppy scheme
The class having a readathon, a non uniform day and we even talked about bringing the exhibition vehicle down and having a few more guide dog owners there too.

That was basically it and we were taken to the staffroom for some tea.

It was a great talk to both the classes and the P6s seem pritty keen to do something for us which would be brilliant. I hate asking for money but it’s a charity so you have to bring it up at some point.

Balnamore Primary school

This school was in Ballymoney. Orrigionally the classroom assistant had asked us to be there for half 9 but thankfully the teacher said that that would be too early and she would do the talk at half 10 instead.

When we got out of the car a teacher came up and said to us “Would you mind talking in the hall?”. We didn’t know what she meant but then she informed us that the school had had a non uniform day last week and all the children were so excited to hear that a guide dog was coming so could we talk to the whole school. We explained that we only came with badges for the little P1 and 2s, but the teacher said that was okay. The branch organiser said to me that she was a bit annoyed. It would have been nice to be told before today but oh well.

We went in and got settled in the hall while all the kids came in. We were wondering how we could make it interesting for all so what we did first was get the little ones to wear a blind fold and pick something up to see what was in there. They all enjoyed it and everyone in the school wanted to do that bit.

The papers were there and the teachers were taking photos too.

We talked about what a guide dog did, how she helped me, how it was trained and the fact she couldn’t have have any human food etc.

There wasn’t time for any questions unfortunately but we did get more pictures with the little kids. They couldn’t really pet ushi but some of them managed a sneaky one lol. Slightly encouraged by a wagging Ushi tail lol. One little kid whispered to me “i like your dog”. I said i liked her too.

The kids had held a non uniform day as i mentioned earlier. The P7s also held a bookmark and card sale and we were presented with a cheque for…£205! I thought this was brilliant! Thank you everyone!

I wasn’t as keen on this school but that could have been because we were thrown in at the deep end. I was pleased with the donation though!

After that, we went to the branch organisers mums house. We sat and had a chat to her mum who is a very nice woman and then we took Ushi out into her garden to run about. I forgot to bring her whistle with me outside but Ushi ran quite a bit. We didn’t let her go too far as the woman didn’t have back gates and she was right in the middle of a farm so i don’t think that would have been good letting her run through the farm.

We went back into chill after that.

The woman has invited us back again and totally loved Ushi.

When we were leaving, the branch organiser roled down the window to see a horse. Ushi didn’t know what to think when it decided to stick its head in through the window lol.

It was a great couple of days. I’ve another talk on Monday night and am off to Belfast tomorrow.

So it’s been quite a busy week! Thank you again both schools!

Another Guide Dog Talk

On Monday, my rehab worker asked me if I would like to attend
Another Talk About Guide dogs
Of course I said yes since I wasn’t doing anything anyway. So today we went off to visit one of the local folds.

We were talking to another group run by the RNIB. From what i’ve seen of these last two groups, They seem like a great idea, as they get people who are newly diagnosed as blind or partially sighted out and about, and they also seem quite relaxed and informal. This talk was no different. I debated if I should have something prepared, but thought i’d just go with the flow.

My rehab worker again started about the myths of owning a guide dog. I then told a bit about myself, then my rehab worker talked about more of the myths, and then the other services that guide dogs offer such as the
Sighted guiding service
I mentioned in a previous post. (This service isn’t yet fully operational yet).

My rehab worker also mentioned the
Buddy dogs
Service which places a dog with maybe a family of a child thinking of applying for a dog in the future. These dogs don’t guide, but have been rejected as guide dogs. They are mainly companion dogs, and teach children how to care for a dog, for example.

About an hour into the talk, Ushi started to whine a bit. This is not like her at all, so I don’t know what was up with her. She did settle in again, and after we had done our bit, questions were asked, and then my rehab worker asked me if i allowed people to pet Ushi, and if he wanted me to take her round everyone. It was like a big living room we were in so I said it was okay. She loved that part lol. We had no more whines after that so that was good.

I enjoyed this talk better than the last one as I felt I could just chat away where as the last one felt more awkward for some reason.

On Saturday i am attending one of the
Guide dogs fun days
Which are being held across the country. I am mainly going because there is a breefing about the changes to the organisation and think as a guide dog owner they might affect us. There will be a Go Walkies sponsored walk too as well as lots of other fun stuff.

I’m kind of dreading it as it’s gonna be distractions galore! Ushi won’t be working as I don’t know where to go though. She’ll still have her harness on though. I’ll keep you up to date on how it all goes.

Out of interest, i’m wondering do you find all this guide dog stuff boring? It’s just i’ve got very little comments recently :(. Maybe it’s a blogger issue though.

I’ll let you know how Saturday goes!

Talking Guide Dogs

Last night, my rehab worker rang me to see if I wanted to attend a talk with him today. He was doing it for the RNIB down in Colleraine. I said yeah i would. He was going to ask another guide dog owner, but she hasn’t been too well lately, so he asked me instead.

Before I get to today though, the past couple of days have been rather weird.

On Monday I was going to my quilting course as usual. It was windy but it wasn’t raining thankfully. We got to about the second house, when Ushi stopped. There was a car in front of us, but this was a wee bit back from the car. I had to get really firm with her, and eventually she did go, but it just took a hell of alot of time before she went. She hasn’t stopped like this in ages. Once we got by the car she was grand.

On the way back from town she was grand and walked past it.

I got my sister and dad to come with me for my second walk to see what the problem was. Again the same thing happened. She had passed this particular car loads of times so i don’t know what the problem was. It was just at that one car.

Yesterday I tried experimenting a little. Instead of going straight up to the kerb outside our house like i’d usually do, I just turned right at the end of our driveway to see if that helped. I also gave her a treat at the end of the first corner. I hardly ever give her treats on our walks, but thought she might need a little incentive to go forward. That worked a treat! She worked like a little angel! I even had an opportunity to do some educating!

There is this pathway that is like a shorter version of the church route. It cuts a big chunk out of it but still makes it a decent route. I was only doing this way as i didn’t want to do a the full thing. A family were coming out of where I was going. I thought maybe they had a dog with them (who knows why), so stopped to let them past. The father/grandad was chatting away to me, and saying about how he’d seen me going up and down the road. He had kids with him. I asked if the kids would like to pet the dog, and explained that you must always ask a guide dog owner before petting. They seemed interested, but didn’t rush up to pet the dog or anything which was good. They left shortly after that, but I thought it was good.

Unfortunately on our second walk of the day though we ran into a bit of a problem. We had just done the church route, but I wanted to do a little extra path my sister had shown me which eventually took me onto my block route home. We were about to do it when I heard two dogs fighting. They were apparently across the road, but i thought they were just up ahead. My sister said it was a wee stray dog that was fighting with another dog on its lead. As soon as I heard the tell tail signs, I turned and headed straight home. Luckily we were a bit away from them, but i deffinetly wasn’t going to risk Ushi getting caught up in it. I hope the poor wee thing was okay.

Part of me just feels rather silly the way i react to other dogs, but i really don’t want Ushi going through such a horrible thing as before.

Anyway on to today….

My rehab worker was going to be collecting me at about half 12, so I decided to do a walk before chilling for a while. I just did a short walk, as I wasn’t sure if the little dog from last night was still around. Again though we had no stops, and she walked me around lots of bins and such. Normally she sort of will stand at a bin sometimes as if to say “what do you want me to do about it?”. So it was a good if short walk.

We came back and chilled for a while then until my rehab worker came to collect me.

I decided to experiment with something. I’m not sure if i’ve mentioned this, but whenever Ushi would get out of a car, she would pull quite a bit. It would be quite bad until we sat down somewhere. I thought it wasn’t fair on people guiding me, and i also felt that it probably didn’t look that good when the guide dog was pulling. So I slipped the Halty on. I then took her to spend and once I took the halty off, there was no pulling at all! So maybe putting the halty on before getting out of the car is good? The only problem would be if she was in the boot of a car. I don’t know what i’d do then. I suppose before we set off i could stick it on at least until i’d spent her? She doesn’t seem to pull on trains or busses. Not that i’ve noticed anyway!

The RNIB had a spending pen! I didn’t put Ushi in it though as i knew she wouldn’t use it. I was a bit disappointed though since i thought that I may as well have used it since it was there, but I knew Ushi wouldn’t use it so just used grass instead. How typical though that it was available though but she would just have to be awkward and not like going on concrete!

We got settled in on a nice comfy sofa lol. It was just a very informal talk really. Ushi settled almost straight away which was good.

There were about 20 people there in the group. They were all quite elderly and were mostly newly diagnosed as blind or partially sighted.

My rehab worker first of all talked about the myths about owning a guide dog, and tried to dispell them. He also talked about things like the enquiry visit and stuff that you will have if you apply for a guide dog.

Next, he passed over to me. I hadn’t prepared anything, so just said basically that I didn’t know where to start, and that I would just go with the flow. I talked about when I applied, that there were different stages of the guide dog application, and when I got matched with Ushi. I told them what a difference she has made, but ran out of what to say then lol.

The floor was then opened up for questions.

One person came over and i said he could pet the dog if they wanted. They didn’t really like dogs, so I just talked to him and said that you must ask always before petting a dog.

What happened next was quite weird. I understand if the woman was scared of dogs, but I don’t know if she was or not. Anyway she came over and was like “he is lovely” and all. I said that actually she was a she and then the woman was like “It’s not nice for ladies to lick people” or something then she went over and very quickly washed her hands. I don’t know what was up. I never said anything to her, but it did seem a little weird. I mean if you put your hand down to a dog will it not lick you? Who knows.

Our talk lasted for about half an hour. We didn’t have to rush off, so we stayed for another talk by the
Talking Newspaper For Colleraine
They talked about basically what was on the CDS, and that they would provide a CD player and all if you didn’t happen to have one.

We went home after that. It was a good afternoon.

On Friday I might be going to a volunteer event. There is a street collection in Limavady although i said i wasn’t going because i feel it’s too soon to be doing street collections, but I said i would be happy to sit in a coffee shop and encourage volunteers lol.

So if I do go up, i will probably bring something along with me until the event at 1 o’clock. There will be other guide dog owners there too.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

I’m pleased with how the talk went though. I’m sure over time i won’t need to prepare anything.