Dear Ushi

I wrote this on Facebook the other day and thought i’d share it. I know i’ll be recapping my experiences from meeting Ushi right up to qualification and beyond, but I thought i’d write this little tribute to Ushi. I hope you won’t find my recaps boring, but I aim to post once a day during the time I was on class. Next week i’ll write about meeting Ushi, but for today here is my tribute to my girl. Enjoy!

I know this is probably soppy, but I don’t really care.

Dear Ushi

Where do I start? As it is nearly a year since I first met you (28 July) although I didn’t officially start training until the 30th August (I was matched on the 4th August), and didn’t qualify until the 29th September, I thought i’d write about how much the last year has been worth having you in it. Now is as good a time as any to celibrate this.

When I first met you on the 28 July, I thought it would be quite a while until I got the word that I would be matched. So I didn’t get too excited as I was told that it was “Just a walk”. Little did I know that a week later I would be told that I was matched to you after a matching visit, and that we would start class on my birthday (30 August).

Those first couple of walks were a little bit quick, but that was because you didn’t know the area, and I was a totally new person for you. I am pleased to say that on our matching visit you walked at your normal speed, and I wasn’t so nervous either.

I still wasn’t sure whether to get excited or not in case it didn’t really work or whatever.

On the 30th August, I was very nervous. I was still worrying about me doing the right thing, and hoped I would remember everything I was going to be taught. I was a little excited too.

When you were braught into my room that first night (just for half an hour), you stood in the middle of the floor and whined because your instructor had left you with this crazy new owner. You then hid under the table until she came back. I didn’t want to step on you so I crawled around the floor until I found you!

The next day was when the real work began. We spent the morning building our harnesses and finding out what each bit of equipment we got was and what it was for. That afternoon, you were braught into me. You didn’t whine this time, but stood in front of me for a while while your bed and things were braught in.

That first night I remember measuring out your food a few times until I got it right. I couldn’t believe how quickly the food was gone once I gave it to you.

You were a stubborn little madam that first night, and it took me and your instructor at least 20 minutes before you would spend. You just stood in that run looking at us.

I panicked the next morning when I didn’t put water in your food, but you don’t even need water in it now.

When we did our first harness walk the next day, I hung way back and you ended up walking me into a bin! I thought that we would fall off the kerb if I was up beside you lol.

When you let out a low growl when spending one night, I worried that it was a really bad thing, and thought that something really bad had happened, I was reassured that you just saw a car in the dark and didn’t know quite what it was. You didn’t do it again and you only do it when you’re asleep.

When you pulled me off my feet nearly on our first free run, I wondered if we would get along, and would every free run be as bad. (You were just excited about going for a run, and thankfully i now have a Halty which stops you pulling so I have more control of you for such times).

When you did your first spend for me after three days on class I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! I didn’t care what else that day had in store, but the fact that you had spent without your instructor was awesome!

When we got home from class, I barely moved from my computer chair for the first day and the night before just in case you needed anything or got stressed. When I went out to town on that Sunday and came back to find that you were in one piece and nothing had been chewed up, I knew you’d be grand being left alone.

If you went out of my room I wanted you to have your bells on, and thought you might escape if I didn’t take you down to the garden on a lead. Now I just let you wear your normal collar, and wonder around most of the time. I also let you spend by yourself, as it stops me standing in something unpleasant!

After we qualified, the problems really started.

When you started stopping and would barely move from my front door, I was really worried in case I had done something terrible. I now know that you were just bored, and still will stop today, but I just tell you to get on with it, and most of the time you will after a bit of protesting. But when you started to stop, I wanted to give you back at one point because we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere.

When you decided to spend in a shopping centre shortly after I got you, there really wasn’t a whole big enough for me to crawl into. Thankfully that was the only time you did it, and that was because you held it in. Now I make sure you spend before we go anywhere, and you don’t just lie in the sun! That experience also taught me that I must always give you as many opportunities to go as possible, to make sure it doesn’t happen again!

When we took you to Portrush, we discovered how much you don’t like water. I used to dread taking you out in the rain, as it was a huge battle to get you going, but dare I say it, you have got slightly better now in the rain. You will still dawdle, but at least we can move and you don’t put your head down and look really depressed.

When you saw a blue bottle, you got your self into such a mess that I thought I was gonna have to call the vet. Now you still pant now, but I don’t pay you attention, and you soon learn that it’s not gonna eat you.

When you experienced snow for the first time, you wanted to rush through it. When I nearly slid on the ice, you stopped and looked at me as if you were asking if I was alright.

When I had to correct you for the first time, I felt like a witch. Thankfully I don’t have to correct you as much, and you soon get the message if you’re doing something I don’t like.

I remember the first time my sister hoovered up your hair, and you thought it was gonna get you. You came right up to me and glued yourself to me. You still do that now, but I don’t pay attention to you, so you go and sulk somewhere.

Sometimes I wonder if you are bonded to me, but the way you follow me about tells me that you are.

I love the way you whine whenever you get something like a dental stick or a carrot. You used to do it even with ice cubes! You used to do it when we first worked together (I called it a moan), but thankfully you don’t do that, but still do it with carrots and dental sticks.

Even though you are a stubborn little girl, I hope for many more years with you. I hope you don’t get bored and that I find loads of new routes for you. I have no idea what the future holds for us, to be honest. I hope we are well on the way to having a great bond together.

On class I was so afraid in case I broke you lol.

I remember one day I didn’t feed you until 20 past nine, when I normally feed you between 7 or 8. Of course you just lay on your bed and couldn’t care less! I felt so guilty! I have never let that happen and the latest I feed you in the mornings is around half 8 but mostly it’s between 7 and 8.

I can’t think of what else to write, but I will finish by saying that all these experiences weren’t exactly in the right order. I would just like to say thank you my stubborn little girl. We have been on quite a journey over the past year, and I hope that we are together for at least another 8 or 9 years. You are always wagging your tail, and have plenty of ways of showing your affection. You just love working, and even though I sometimes have to get quite firm with you, we are still learning every day. I hope we will have many more experiences, and that your “Testing” stage is over. I am always having to teach you new routes, and addapt what I am doing to keep you happy.

I love you little Ushers. I must take you out for a walk, but here’s to many more experiences!

I’ve probably missed something, but I think this is long enough already.

It deffinetly was tough for us to get used to each other, but I think we both know how each other works now.

You probably think i’m a mad wee thing when I talk to you about our day, but I don’t care.

May your tail continue wagging, and I hope you will let me know if I am doing something wrong. I sometimes correct you to discover that you are actually working me around something on the ground that I haven’t noticed.

I love how forgiving you are. If I step on your paw, for instance, you don’t mind, and just continue to walk along.

Thank you again for being such a wonderful guide, and In some ways, I think we are a perfect match, both in speed of our walks and our personalities! You are a wee star.

Keep wagging!