Guide Dog Training Day One:orientation

It’s the end of the first day at the hotel and i’m sitting watching “I’m a Celebrity get me out of here”. Normally i wouldn’t watch any of this, but i mainly have it on for background noise while i write up the entry for today. I had planned to record each day using the voice memos app, but i couldn’t find a way to copy it over to the blog post, so if anyone has any ideas as to how to do this, please do let me know.

So today started around 9 o’clock. I got the train at 10 o’clock, and was met in Belfast by my rehab worker and another client where we were taken to the hotel and introduced to the other clients and the instructors taking the class. After everyone had arrived, we were taken to our rooms to leave off our bags and start to get ourselves orientated.

The hotel has kindly converted one of the bedrooms in to a lounge area with sofas and things so that we can meet and have talks or just chill out. We met up again there to discuss how class works, before we all headed down for lunch.

After lunch, it was more orientation, before

We did some work with an instructor and a lead without a dog. This was looking at going through doors and walking down the corridor. We then headed out to do some work on an empty harness, practicing our foot positions and turns. We then headed back inside, before heading down to the lounge area to have some cake to celebrate one of the rehab workers birthdays.

We headed down to dinner for about half 6, and now we are all chilling out in our rooms ready for tomorrows’ activities.

We are getting our dogs tomorrow so the hard work begins.

I will try to write each day, but i might not manage to do so. I will still record though and then transcribe them in to writing later if i need to. I am looking forward to getting Vivvy tomorrow and i hope you will enjoy my entries over the next couple of weeks.

May Fest Arrival

Back in February i think it was, i was reading on Twitter and discovered a sports weekend taking place in May called May Fest. May fest is hosted by
Vision sports Ireland
I had read about it before, but never gave it much thought, other than it would be cool, but i could never afford it. I decided this year that i would go because i may as well and i hardly ever by anything really for myself. I emailed Vision Sports asking if the May fest was only for people living in Ireland, but thankfully the organisation got back to me and told me that anyone could come along if they wanted. They told me that if i registered to become a member of Vision Sports, i wouldn’t have to pay the full price for the sports and it would work out cheaper for me. I wasn’t really bothered about this, but decided to become a member anyway.

Once i was registered with Vision Sports, i had to register for the May fest itself. I also had to book my tickets for the Mayhem at the Maples, which is a big ball that Vision sports are holding on the Saturday night. I thought you had to register early, but it seems there are still places for the whole weekend available.

The May Fest weekend is finally here and i am currently sitting in my hotel room. The events don’t start until tomorrow, but i wanted to come today and get settled in as there is a conference i want to attend which starts at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.

Today started as my Thursdays usually do now. I went to my art class up in Belfast first where we are making lots of paper birds for a project we are working on. They are all coming along well, and some of us have got the birds wings put on to the bird, while some are still doing their main boddy of the birds. It is a very fun project, although it can be messy. I then walked back from Divis community centre where the class is held, and got on a bus from beside the city hall around to Central station where i would get the Enterprize train which goes from Belfast to Dublin.

I must say that the Enterprize is a very swanky, swish train. There are two deepish steps up in to the train, and the floor is covered in carpet. The train has plug sockets on board, plus a dining car. It is very posh, compared to the normal trains. YOu can tell that a lot of business types would probably use it. I had a very enjoyable journey down. It was interesting to note that the train announced what the next stop was long before it got to its stop. The normal trains do this, but i suppose what was weird was the fact that there was such a long time before each stop that it was initially confusing. The train did however tell you when you were then coming up to your stop so that was good. The train is a lot quieter than the normal trains, although they are pretty quiet themselves. I got chatting to a lovely lady on the train who, bless her, got another train to Drumcondra from Connolly station as she wanted to make sure i got to the hotel okay. That was such a lovely thought and i really appreciated it.

Unfortunately, Ushi slipped a little getting off the train at connolly, so i gave her to one of the conductors so that i could get off without worrying about her. Talking of Connolly station, it is huge! There are 7 platforms in it! Most of our stations here only have up to 4, but mainly they only have two. So 7 was huge. Unfortunately when the conductor at the station was taking me up to where the train to Mainuth was, which was the one i needed as Drumcondra was the first stop on that line, there was a guy who walked where Ushi was walking and there was no room. The conductor shouted at him a bit and told him to go round the other way. Oops.

The train i got on to go to Drumcondra was like stepping on a bus where you only had one step to get on to the train. It was quite cool. The only thing was the train didn’t announce its stops, or didn’t seem to.

Bless, the lady who i was talking to on the Enterprize was still with me when we got off at Drumcondra. I noticed as we were walking to The Maples House Hotel, how well the footpaths seemed to be maintained. It was very straight forward to get to the Maples. We just had to cross a couple of side roads after going out of the station once we had turned left on to the right road, and a set of traffic lights, and we were there. Talking of traffic lights, the traffic lights here are so cool. Instead of a box with a button on it, these just seem to have a button, a big button, might i add attached to a pole. As well as this, the crossing beeps and then beeps quickly when it’s time to cross. The beeps don’t even sound like beeps, but like something i can’t describe. They are very very cool. After we crossed the road, we went left until we found the hotel. I gave the lady a hug and told her that i really appreciated her getting the train all the way with me to make sure i got to the right place okay. She said she lived near the Maples though so that didn’t make me feel so bad about her going out of her way when she didn’t need to.

The Maples is more of a guest house, rather than a hotel. First of all, you go up about 5 steps, before going in to the hotel. The reception is litterally right there when you went in. I got checked in before getting shown to my room. My room is rather small. There is barely room to swing a cat, as they say. As soon as you come in, the bathroom is immidiatly on your left, while a hair dryer is on your right. Beyond the hair dryer is a table with tea and coffee and a kettle. There is a bin under the table and a stool to sit on. To the left of the table is a small wardrobe and left of that is a tv and left of that is the window and the radiator. After the bathroom, there is a bedside table with a phone, and the bed. It’s not the biggest room i’ve stayed in, but it’s not the smallest either. Just a bit of a shock from what i was expecting maybe. It is still nice though.

I chilled for about an hour before feeding Ushi and busying her. Unfortunately, the stairs you have to come down to get to the ground floor are the type found in a house, since it is two houses joined together. There is only a banister on the left hand side of the stairs which i can’t use since Ushi is on that side. Plus there is a swing door right at the top of the stairs. I’m having to get her to guide me down and the second set have a banister, well i used it as a banister anyway even though i don’t think it is, are quite narrow so Ushi won’t go down. I’m going down first and coaxing her down. I may have to get her to go down these first if she can.

Anyway after that was taken care of, i went and had my dinner. I had a lovely chicken curry and rice, with perfitta rolls and ice cream for afters.

We’ve just hit our first snag of the night though. Ushi needs a busy and the church yard which has grass which i was using is closed. She was asleep until a short time ago. It never dawned on me that the yard would be closed. I’m hoping she can hold on until the morning as she won’t go on concrete unless it is an enclosed yard, or grass. I need to have a plan B for tomorrow. I’ll ask the receptionist in the morning when i go down for breakfast if there is any grass for night time busies.

I’m glad i came down early though as i think it was good to get settled in. Hopefully i can find a spot for Ushi to do her business after 9 o’clock when the church yard closes. I am looking forward to the conference tomorrow. It’ll be all about different sports and the world of visually impaired sports so it should be interesting. I will let you know how it goes tomorrow night.

This Time Last Year…Settling In

I’ve got two posts for you today. I was going to post them both separately, but figured they would probably be better in one post. This will prob be a long one though.

First of all, we have

This Post

Where the nerves/worrying/excitement kicked in all at once. I was so worried in case i didn’t remember anything. Plus i was worrying in case it wasn’t the right thing for me. I found it hard to sleep that night as i’d written that post before i went to bed.

My next post

Was written later that day, after I had settled in. I remember how worried i still was, and how i was worried when i was told that i needed to not use my cane as we wouldn’t be using it with our dogs. (I only used it for going to and from the restaurants during class as that was alright).

During dinner that night, my instructor who stayed the first night said that i could have Ushi for about half an hour after I ate. (The instructors usually stay the first couple of nights on class just to make sure we’re all comfy). My instructor had braught ushi in, and then left the room. Little Ushi started to pace and whine before lying under one of the tables we had in our rooms. I didn’t want to stand on Ushi, so crawled around the floor looking for her! She actually spent most of her down time under that table lol. I phoned mum and said i couldn’t find Ushi because she was under the table and i didn’t know where she was!

I thought it was nice that at dinner the waitor put a candle in my dessert as they had found out it was my birthday!

Tomorrow we met the dogs again, and the real work begun! Looking back on these entries is so good. What would we do without blogs!

I’ll write about my birthday soon. Sorry this is so long!

First Day Of Guide Dog Class

I am currently sitting in my room chilling waiting for my dinner. So I thought i would just write up the blog.

I got up at about half 8. My rehab worker wasn’t coming until after 10, but my brother was coming over, so I wanted to see him before I went.

I got picked up at about half 10. I think it was about 11 o’clock when we arrived. We first of all went through the route both to and from reception out to the spending pen. I managed that alright, which was good.

We met the other rehab worker of our team, and the two guide dog mobility instructors who will be here. The other client was going to come around 12 o’clock, so I hadn’t met him yet.

On the way up from reception to the run, I thought that one of the guide dog mobility instructors had spoke to me, so I was all ready to start up a conversation lol.

We stopped in our “Lounge” for a while, while everyone got sorted out. Man, that is so comfy. We have nice sofas and all, which makes it feel really relaxed.

Shortly after this, the other client arrived. There are only two of us here at the minute, as another client is only going to come for the days sessions. I chatted to him for a while, before going to explore my room.

My room is quite comfy. As you go in the door, there is the wardrobe on the left, and the bathroom is on the right. Next on the left is a table with all the tea making facilities, such as cups, and a kettle and that. on the shelf below that is an ironing board and an iron. Next on the left is a big massive desk where my laptop is currently. Beside that is the TV, and then we have the beds. There is a single bed and a double bed. Maybe that second bed is just for when you get lucky down in the restaurant or the bar? Lol only joking, of course. That was pritty much all there was to the room. Oh, and we have been given an alarm clock and a CD player for our time while we are in the room.

In the bathroom we have a dog bowl, waterbowl, and some towels that we might need for when we get our dogs.

I sat and chilled for about 10 minutes, and started to unpack some of my stuff. My rehab worker went down to sort out what way the internet would work. I have been given an Ethernet cable, which just plugs into the back of the laptop.

We went back to the lounge after exploring the layout of my room, just to chat and that.

Me and my rehab worker then went back to my room to set up the internet. It was quite easy really. All you had to do was to plug the cable in, and then choose the location of the network. Like we chose the “Public” location, for example. I played about on the computer for a while just making sure that i could get the internet and that.

We also went down to see where our table was for when we would be eating lunch.

After this was lunch. We were in the “bar” part of the hotel. This was like a really chilled coffee shop. We would eat our lunch here most days, but we wouldn’t be eating something massive. I decided to have a chicken sandwich which was good. I talked alot to the guide dog mobility instructor and that over lunch. She said that it wasn’t an exam or anything, and that they were here to help us work with the dogs. I just had to make sure that I wouldn’t get shouted at or anything if something bad happened. She said that it was okay to make mistakes, and that it will just depend on each day what kind of day we would have.

It was back up to the “lounge” after this.

We then started looking at the layout of the hotel without our canes. I crapped myself at the thought of this. This was because we wouldn’t be using our canes really that much with the dogs. We would just be having the dogs on leads, and walking around the hotel like that. We wouldn’t be working the dog though indoors yet. It felt really scarey at first doing it, but once I got used to it, it felt okay. I compared it to moving around your house, cause after all, you wouldn’t be using your cane around the house. I was worried in case i couldn’t find my room, and my rehab worker had put a little sticker under the card slot, just to make doubly sure I would find it alright. It is the last door before you come to a big open space, so I probably won’t even need the sticker. It was just nice though to have that.

When we decided to go down to the reception without the cane, I went the wrong direction. I was able to correct myself which was good.

We then went back to the lounge, where we just chilled some more, and i got shown the layout of it.

We then went down to see where the swimming pool and gym are. They are down some stairs, so you have to be careful. The stairs were really twisty lol. At the bottom of these stairs, if you went straight on, you would find the swimming pool area, and if you went left, you would find the beauty salon. We just went straight on to the swimming pool area. It had a really windy coridor to it. The changing rooms were on one side, and there were two gyms on the other side. When we got to the bottom of this corridor, we found the reception part. If I do want to go swimming, I will get shown around the ladies changing rooms and that, and the other client said that he might have a swim sometime, so I might join him. I wouldn’t want to be the only one going swimming lol.

I went up to the lounge again after that.

Before my rehab worker left, he showed me where our table would be in the main restaurant which is the one we have breakfast and dinner in. Basically you come in the door, and then find the end of the wall. Then you turn your feet to roughly one o’clock, and then go straight from there. I kept missing this angle though, and then couldn’t find the table. Eventually I got it though. Although when I was going out of the restaurant, I wasn’t sure where to go. So I turned right instead of left. My rehab worker asked me where I was, and I said that it was as i thought the swimming pool area. It turned out to be reception. I had just gone the wrong direction. I soon got that corrected though.

I chilled for about an hour then after that, just watching TV and writing this blog.

I met the other client in the lounge at about 10 to 6. He had mentioned that he had seen his dog today again. I was reeeeeeeeeeeally excited!!! I hessitantly asked if i could see Ushi, and my instructor said that after dinner I could. I was really excited! It wasn’t for long, just for about half an hour.

So for dinner I had “chicken supreme” only without cabbage and tomatoes which it came with. I couldn’t really decide on what to have, but i am glad i went for this choice. It was gorgious.

After dinner, I was tempted to have a hot chocolate fudge cake and icecream. That didn’t really take alot of persuation lol. It was gorgious! The waitor had found out that it was my birthday, so they put a nice candle in it, and my guide dog mobility instructor and the other rehab worker who were staying the night sang happy birthday. I thought it was nice. And the fudge cake was gorgious! Sometimes they can be very heavy, but this was just perfect.

It was upstairs after this. I didn’t know the restaurant door was open, so kind of tripped up a little “lip” which was part of the change of surface out of the restaurant. I caught my arm on the door though, as i tripped. Probably wasn’t using the old faithful cane propperly lol.

I couldn’t wait to get up to my room!

My instructor braught Ushi in for me to have a cuddle of. She was just telling me to just keep talking to her, and just to give her a stroke. The instructor got her sitting for me, while she just slipt out. She immediatly got up, and started pacing around the room. She let out a couple of whines, then just lay down under the table. I couldn’t find her though so had to crawl around on my hands and knees lol as i didn’t want to stand on her lol. She then got up again and wondered around for a bit. I was kind of scared though, just in case i wasn’t doing the right thing, or anything. I still had that little doubt saying if i was really ready, but i think as time goes on, I will become more ready to handle her and that. My instructor came back at about half 9.

Now i’m just sitting here writing this blog. It has been a long day, but I am anxious to see what the next few days will bring!

Tomorrow will be just doing work with the short handle harness, and then at some point we will get our doggies.

I can’t wait, and hopefully I find nothing to worry about between now and then!

Thank you so far for the nice comments, and sorry again for not replying. They are all still much appreciated, so keep them coming! Right now, bedtime is a calling.

Guest Posting And Some Other Blogs

I was asked a couple of weeks ago if i would like to write an article for
blog. I jumped at the chance. Maybe a little too enthusiastically though lol. I thought it would be a great idea to promote my blog, as well as sharing how things were done in our team compared to other parts of the UK and around the world.

I decided to write about the journey so far, from applying, and what it was like to what would probably happen at the matching visit and such. I didn’t include
The Hotel training
That i did, as this was only a new thing, so maybe wouldn’t happen for every person. It was just a summary really. So that’s why i didn’t post it here.

I would really like to thank Jennifer for this opportunity. It is such a great idea.

Anyway Got a little side tracked there. Jennifer posted my post this week, along with some other entries. I hope it’s okay for me to post the other blogs. Anyone who was guest posting and doesn’t want to be mentioned, write a comment and i’ll delete.

So it was me starting off the week with the application process of the guidedog and other such things like what each stage entailed. Tuesdays turn was
Who blogged about training with her first guidedog. I’ve mentioned her before, and how awesome she is. Well she still is awesome.

Wednesday was
Journey. He wrote about how sometimes a guidedog isn’t all roses. It is something that nobody wants to think about, but it’s good to know that everything sometimes doesn’t work out. It’s not designed to deliberately scare you, but it’s to make you aware of what could happen, I think.

On Thursday,
Stepped up to the helm. She was talking about how much she is settled now with her guidedog Cricket. She is another great blogger, and i love reading all her adventures.

Finally, it was an author of
A Wonderful book
About guidedogs for children, called “Hanny and Beth:Safe And Sound”. I wanna get a copy!!!! It sounds really interesting!!! Her blog is
Right Over here
She wrote a post about retiring her guidedog and what it was like.

This was a great idea to do. It was great to discover some new blogs along the way, and I think
Got some new readers. I hope you enjoy reading these other entries, and sorry i didn’t link directly to each person’s guest post. You will find them all on Jennifers’ blog, but if you really want to read my summary of what it’s like in the application process,
Read it here
I have written much more detailed entries on the stages throughout this journal though.

Thanks again Jennifer.