Assisting In The "Sighted Guiding Mobility Service"

I was asked on Wednesday at our local fundraising meeting if I would come along on Friday morning to help my mobility worker assess two volunteers for the “Sighted Guiding Mobility Service” which is being piloted I think in Northern Ireland. This is basically a service offered by Guide Dogs to help people regain their confidence and get out and about before they progress with long cane training or become guide dog applicants. A volunteer would take a client out as much as they needed, and it would last for about 3 months. This could be taking them to the cinema or shopping. They work one to one with the person. This
Probably explains it better.

So this morning I got picked up at about 9 o’clock to head into town where we would meet two volunteers who were being assessed by my mobility worker. They were from the local fundraising branch, so we kind of knew each other beforehand.

Before we got started, we waited for the first volunteer to come. While we were waiting, my mobility worker explained a little more about what the service was. He said that everyone who was on the fundraising branch knew basic sighted guiding techniques, but that this was basically going into more detail, like how to go through doors and such with a blind or partially sighted person.

Shortly after, the first volunteer came up and introduced herself to me like she would a client. We walked out of the shop we met at, and just walked around one of our shopping centres, then back again. The woman was a bit nervous at the start, but once we got going, she was grand!

When we got back to where we’d started, we headed up to the restaurant part and had a coffee while we waited for the other lady to arrive. My mobility worker then filled in some paperwork once the second woman had arrived.

After about half an hour, I did a route to the second shopping centre that we have with the second woman. She seemed really confident from the start. The only problem that they both had was with going through doors. The correct way to do this is to always have the visually impaired person on the hinge side of the door, so that they could control it. (That used to drive me mad in school). But they both got this after they were refreshed on how to do it.

I thought it was really good for both the volunteers. They were both confident, but the second woman seemed not to be as nervous. They will hopefully be matched some time in the future with a blind or partially sighted person.

All the guiding techniques can be adapted to suit each person, which is good. I thought it was a very informative morning.

When I came home I was expecting Ushi to be all hyper since I hadn’t taken her with me, but she didn’t even notice me! She went straight to sleep, and was asleep when I got home! It’s a good thing that she isn’t bothered by not going with me, but it makes you feel unloved! She did come over for a few scratches, but she is back in bed now.

I suppose I’d better go get motivated to take her out for our walk. It’s meant to snow later, so want to do it now if I can. It’s just hard to find the motivation!

Working Well

Today a guide dog mobility instructor came to assess how me and Ushi have been getting on since the events of last week. She came at about 11 o’clock.

We were going to go to the shops, but the instructor was a little pushed for time. So we just decided to do the route past the church. I was a little nervous when she said that she would be following in the car (all of the instructors do this so the dog doesn’t see them), but since the attack, I wanted someone behind me to make sure everything went okay. She assured me that she would be right behind me in the car, and if i needed her I could drop the handle. I just had to get on with it really.

I’m pleased to say that it all went grand. She had even got her cheekiness back, which was good to see. More because that’s the Ushi i know rather than it actually being a good thing. At one point she wanted to go down another path. I thought there was an obsticle, so did an off kerb. I knew as soon as we were down off the kerb that we were back up really quickly. I then thought “there’s nothing there” but continued on. She was just being a madam! I was expecting a dog to be behind a gate near the end of our route, but thankfully it wasn’t. It was behind a gate, but it was quite a yappy wee thing.

When we were coming back on our street, there was a car parked. I tried to get her up to the kerb, but there wasn’t room. The owner of the car then came and grabbed me and kind of pushed me lol past it. As long as he got me past it I suppose.

The instructor says that Ushi had a “High tail carriage” which means that her tail was up and she looked happy. She says that at the start of the walk I looked nervous and that I seemed to slow down a little. But after the first five minutes we both looked confident and happy which is good. She says it’s just a matter of getting our confidence back up again.

We then got chatting about toys, and just how Ushi is so hard to please with her toys in that she gets rather bored rather quickly lol. She warned me though not to leave squeaky toys about, as if the dog swallows them she would be seriously ill as the squeak wouldn’t pass and she would need surgery and that sort of thing. I deffinetly wouldn’t want that to happen. Not that i have ever left squeaky toys down for her, I would always throw it and then pick it up again. I would only leave her with a kong or a nylabone or something like that.

I also asked about meeting up with my friend. The last time we met, the two dogs got rather excited. Especially Ushi. I think because my friends dog is around the same age as Ushi, they both wanted a play. She says that she will meet us one day to see how the two of them get on. She also says that when I go inside the door of the shopping centre to put the halty on if I know my friend will be there. I explained that she hates the halty and barely moves when in harness, but she says that if it takes a bit longer to get into the shopping centre, then so be it. As long as i was in complete control.

So now the work begins again. I hope we can get our confidence back up again in no time at all really. I have my quilting to go to tomorrow, so here’s hoping that nothing bad happens again.

My instructor asked me on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, how likely did I think the attack was. I said it was about a 6 or a 6 and a half. She asked if that would decrease over time, but I said not for a while anyway lol.

I’m pleased to say that it went well today. Let’s hope it continues! I can’t wait to start doing more walks when the weather gets nicer and when the evenings get lighter too. The light doesn’t really bother me, but my dad would rather I worked during the day when it was light.