My First Ice Hockey Game

I’m not long back from my first ice hockey game.

A couple of weeks ago, Ushi’s puppywalker messaged me to tell me that she was coming over in a couple of weeks and would i like to meet up. Her partner was playing in an ice hockey game so that was why they were mainly coming over. Of course i said yes. She said that i was welcome to join her at the ice hockey game if i wanted as they had a free ticket going spare. I wasn’t sure about going at first because i didn’t think i would get much out of it. The last time i was offered to go to an ice hockey game was at a youth club i used to go to but i declined that time. This time though, i thought “what have i got to lose?””. The game was against the
Belfast Giants
And the
Braehead Clan
Who were a scottish team.

Once i had decided that i would go to the game, i emailed the
SSE Areena
To see if they offered some kind of audio description or at least an audio comentry so i could follow the game. When i emailed, they weren’t sure, but offered to look in to it for me. They soon got back to me and explained that they had no audio description, but could offer me a link to the live comentry for their web cast service which would link in to a hearing loop system. They also alerted me to the fact that the arreena used pyro tecnics at the start of the game and that they would be happy to have Ushi should i need to have her leave the arreena and bring her back in at a suitable time. I was mulling this over and decided just to play it by ear and see how she went.

So today i first of all went and did my parkrun, before eventually leaving and getting the 2 o’clock train up to Belfast. I got the bus up to Station street, where Ushi’s puppywalker and her friend met me before we all walked to the areena. We first of all went to Pizza hut to grab something to eat. Lots of pictures were taken of Ushi by her puppywalker. I had last visited Ushi about 3 years ago so she was deffinetly glad to see Ushi. Ushi however was not in a posing mood. Once we were all fed and watered, we took Ushi for a busy where she decided to show off and roll around the grass a few times like a total loon. More pictures were taken which i did not mind at all.

We hung around outside until the areena opened their doors at 6 o’clock for the 7 o’clock game. The event manager of the areena met us, and told us that they had reserved disabled seats as they didn’t want Ushi getting trampled on during the game. They advised us of the pyro tecnics again and showed me how to work the hearing loop system. This was like a tiny little match box with a volume control which was also the on/off switch. I was given a spare in case the first one didn’t work and a pair of headphones. They had told me that they had never had a visually person request a comentry, so weren’t sure how useful it would be. They also advised us that because the Braehead Clan were running a little bit late, the game wouldn’t start until half 7. We were left to our own devices for a while until the game started. I fed Ushi while i was waiting since i knew there was grass outside.

There was music being blasted out across the ice rink, before the ice hockey teams came on to warm up and practice a little. Details were also given about a raffle to win a signed jurzy from one of the players, and tickets were being sold called 50 50 tickets. This was where whoever baught one of these tickets was put in to a draw at the end of the game to win all of the money that was made from selling the tickets. It was split half between the areena and the person who won it. Warnings were also given about the use of pyro tecnics.

The pyro tecnics vidio came on and everything was grand until there were two huge bangs that sounded like huge fireworks. Ushi found this quite hard and started trembling so her puppywalker took her out for me. I’m not sure if the firework sounds scared her though as shortly after she was brought in again she started shaking again. We quickly discovered she was in desperate need of a loo break so were wondering if it was that and not the sounds at all. After that was taken care of, she slept for most of the game. She did appear to get a little cold at times though.

The game is split in to 3 20 minute periods. In between, the players would get a chance to stretch etc before coming back on to the ice. The ice also had to be re surfaced after each 20 minute session. I must say the audio comentry was fantastic. I was able to follow exactly what was going on at every point. The music was a bit loud when goals were scored, but i just adjusted the volume a little. The quality was very professional. I didn’t understand some parts, but got the main jist of it. I pointed out to the areena that since they use this for hearing loops anyway, they should offer it out to visually impaired people. The game needed no further describing. You certainly get carried along with the atmosphere of the game. The sport itself seems quite violent, with quite a few penalties just in the first 20 minutes. There was also a fight that broke out between the players in the last half. The crowd really enjoyed themselves too, supporting whichever team was scoring. There was also a drum that was being beaten each time the crowd chanted for a team. The players also did fun things like jumping on the ice and things once their 20 minutes were over before returning propperly to the game after each session. There was also pizzas being given to random people and random subways being given out too. They passed us by though lol.

I would like to thank Ushi’s puppywalker for inviting me to the game. I think i would attend another. I would also like to thank the SSE Areena for being so acomidating, not only with the comentry, but also with checking regularly on Ushi and making sure we were all comfortable.

It was deffinetly a good experience, and i plan to go again just for the craic :).

Oh and the score was 4 2 to the Braehead Clan which was the team that Ushi’s puppywalkers’ partner played for.


Ushi Update

Last time i wrote, i was in
<a href="https://thebigt1.wordpress.com/2015/12/25/Please-not-yet"a serious muddle
About Ushi. She had sat down twice during her work and i could not get her moving. I seriously thought she had decided not to work.

On Monday i think it was, I took Ushi out and she worked. There was no hint of a sit down. I was so thrilled. Fair enough, it was only a walk, but i don’t mind just a walk with no destination. I didn’t work her yesterday and today i didn’t work her until later because we were in the middle of Storm Frank, so it was windy city all round. Again today there was no hint of a sit own at all. I am so thrilled. I was prepared to have to make that dreaded phone call to guide dogs and was planning my routes factoring in using the cane.

I kind of feel like i was being a little paranoid in my last post. Sorry for the drama but it really did put the willies up me. I can cope with Ushi being stubborn, but the sitting down really threw me.

Obviously, i will keep an eye on things and if it happens again then i’ll deal with it, but i’m hoping it was some sort of a blip.

As an aside, Ushi is still wanting to play with Angel our pet dog. She is actually initiating the play, whereas before, she just about tollerated Angel. I wouldn’t say she’s best buds with her, but it’s a deffinet improvement on how standoffish she used to get.

I’m so glad she is working well though-i don’t need another scare like that for a while.


Please, Not Yet

I don’t even want to write this post. Especially with it being christmas and all, but something happened the other day that has got me in a bit of a tizzy. A rather worried and panicked tizzy, come to that.

A bit of background first. On Sunday, me, my dad and my sister went up to my uncles house. We are in the middle of selling the house, so we had to go up to see when the boiler was last serviced for our celisitors. My dad and sister don’t travel well, so we walked up to the house and back to the trainstation. We also walked from my dads to the train station in Ballymena and back and then uphome. So Ushi had worked pretty hard. We took our time though and wren’t in any major rush. That was grand. I gave Ushi the day off on Monday as i had nowhere to be and Ushi had worked pretty damn hard the previous day.

On Tuesday, i was going to meet a friend and we were going to go round Ballymena as Belfast would have been mad as a place to meet up. I left to go down to the train station where i was meeting my friend, and we got a couple of car lengths away from my house when something odd happened. Ushi whipped round,as if something had got her tail. She then sat down. When i tried to get her to move forward, she stiffened up. When i felt her tail, she went in to a sit aain. I could not get her moving. It wasn’t like her normal stoppages either as she’s never sat dwn. She did sit once before randomly a few months ago, but i just carried on and thought nothing of it. My only solution was to go back home to which she happily trotted off to. She then went upstairsand on to her bed. Now, she will sometimes do this like when it was really hot over the summer, but i was able to keep her going and persevere with her so she didn’t get what she wanted which was to go home. Again though, she had never sat down though. That threw me so i ended up canceling mfriend coming as i was so muddled with what Ushi had just done.

Yesterday being Wednesday, i took her out for a free run with my dad and sister. We were walking along grand and i was working her to the free run area as i find her easier to manage on her harness. She sat down randomly again only this time we were on a road. My sister noticed and we got her going again quickly. That time worried me more. She didn’t whip round this time, but just sat. When i let her off for her free run, she had a complete ball and ran around like a loon. She worked fine for me going back home. I didn’t work her today.

Now, i don’t know what to think about this new behaviour. Ushi has shown no signs of wanting to stop working. Okay she can be a bit slow to start, but that’s been normal. Especially if i have got her off her bed or she wants to go a particular way but i can persevere and get her going. I can’t even say she’s slowed down the past while as she has always had her slow moments where she just plods along like we have all the time in the world. Usually when i need to be somewhere and need to get a wiggle on, she’ll do this. Other than that though, i can’t think of anything else new that she has done to change things.

She will be 7 in February and has had no health conditions. She has two tiny little fatty lumps, but other than that, she is grand. The only other thing she has is what i called clickity hips in that when she stands, her hips click. The vet has checked her and there is nothing he is worried about. Her fatty lumps that have been checked out are still wiggly and free so i’m not particularly worried about them. She is due her worming tablet and flea treatment in January, so when the surgery opens after the new year, i think i shall book a health check. I want to make sure nothing medical is up before i make that call to guide dogs.

I really do hope it is not retirement for Ushi. I know it has to happen eventually, but not now. Especially as it’s so sudden. Obviously if she does not want to work, i will not force her, but i was loving working her. I hope she was enjoying it as much as me. Now i’m thinking “do i work her too much?”. We have no car so we do a lot of walking. Plus i do so love working her. I know every guide dog owner says that, but i really do love it. Yes i know Ushi has her challenging moments, but i’ve learnt to work with her. It feels too soon for her to be wanting to retire. I was only saying recently how she probably won’t tell me when she wants to stop working and that it will be me who will have to make that decition.

So obviously i’m in a bit of a muddle about things. I’m hoping it is something that can be sorted, but i have a suspicion that it’s something more. I’ll see how she is over the next few days, and the vets will be my first port of call before i get guide dogs to come out and have a look. I’m really hoping things improve and that Ushi does want to continue working.

Sorry for such a serious post on christmas.

Have a happy christmas and hopefully when i next write, i’ll have news about Ushi.


Why Did I Let You Stop

It’s the Assistance dog blog carnival again, and i think i will get this in just in time as the deadline is later on today. The topic for this round is
Regrets
I hmmed and hawed about posting as i really don’t know what i would regret, but i suppose this would be the closest thing to a regret as i think of. My only regret with Ushi apart from applying for a dog earlier is…her stopping.

When i got Ushi, everything was grand until about a week after we qualified. She first of all started standing at her kerbs instead of sitting, and then the stopping started. We’d just be walking down the street, and bamb, she wouldn’t move. There were no obsticles, no reason for her to stop. I even called my dad to come look at her paws which were grand. I did not want to go to the guide dog instructors, as i thought i had caused Ushi’s stopages but eventually i had to. The instructor said i should be a bit more positive, which worked for a few days, then she stopped again. They said i needed to be more firmer with her this time, so that worked for a few days and then she stopped again. Each time she stopped, we were getting closer and closer to the house. My dad said to just walk on and she would eventually have to come with me, but i couldn’t physically do that as i didn’t want to choke her.

The district team manager came out when i called again, which put the willies up me. He was the head instructor if you will. I really thought i was in major trouble. During this time of stopping, i wanted, or had thought of giving her back. I never told anyone this until long after Ushi was sorted as i thought they would come and take her away immediately.

When the head instructor came out, i was very nervous. I would have kept Ushi on the lead when i knew people were coming. Now, when he came, Ushi jumped up all 4 paws on his chest. I really thought i was scuppered, but he just ignored her. Now, she probably wouldn’t have done this if i hadn’t kept her on the lead. This was the first and last time she ever did this.

As for the stopping, he told me that Ushi was just being a madam and i just had to tell her to get on with it and make her go forward. I was so so relieved.

During all this stopping, i only worked Ushi once a day. I think that if i had kept working her twice a day if i could, she wouldn’t have put on weight which i couldn’t get off, which would have meant she wouldn’t have had to change foods. On the other hand, she had started to eventually refuse her food she came with, and she seems to enjoy her Burnes food that she is on now. For my next dog, i plan to have her on Burnes because it is a really good food. It is not just a food saying it’s more natural but it isn’t really, it really is a decent food. The food she was on before was very greasy and smelly. It also had lots of things i did not understand when i looked up what was in it. Thankfully the Burnes, while having some additives, these are mainly vitamins and minerals. Plus it feels nicer.

Anyway, we still have the issue of stopages, but i know how to manage them now. I do find myself over annalising them though since she is 6. I really do hope she will let me know when she doesn’t want to work any more.

My secondary regret would be that i am not so nervous with my next dog since i know the ropes, but i just wanted to get everything right.

This has been my entry for the 17th ADBC. I’ll post the submissions when they are compiled.

Thanks to Brook from
Ruled by paws
for the topic idea.


Belfast City Marathon 8 Mile Walk 2015

Today i took part in the 8 mile walk again as part of the Belfast city Marathon. For some reason, i didn’t really publish much about it on here. I noticed too this year that sponsorship was harder to come by. I think that was because it took me longer to put up a link because i wanted to make sure i had a guide first to walk with me and Ushi, before i set up a just giving page, in case i needed to pull out because of not having a guide. Thankfully that didn’t happen though.

So today, i was met by a lady from guide dogs as she was walking with me. We met at Central train station and headed down in to town that way. When we arrived, the runners were just setting off, so we would be setting off shortly after them. We waited for our friend to turn up with her guide, and off we went.

I braught Ushi along for the walk again, and we did a mixture of working and me being guided which she seemed to like. She didn’t mind working either. I made sure to offer her water at each water station too which she redily accepted.

I noticed this year there didn’t seem to be as much of a buzz about the event, but i think that was because last year when i did it, it was my first time, whereas this year i knew what to expect. We still got lots of support and encouragement, but it didn’t seem as busy as it was last year or something. I can’t quite place it.

We finished the walk in 2 hours and 38 minutes, which seemed faster than last year, but i can’t remember what that time was lol. I was quite surprised to be finished so early.

When we got to ormeau park, which was where the walk finished, we got our goody bag and our t shirts and stuff. We also got interviewed by U.TV for the news which was shown tonight. We finished at about 5 to 12, so i was able to get the 10 past one train home.

I can tell you now though, i’m starting to really flag, so i think an early night is deffinetly in order, since i’ve been up since half past 6 to make the 8 o’clock train. My legs are sore now, but i think that was because we ran for a few seconds to get to the finish line lol. My feet were roasting after the walk, but thankfully i don’t have any blisters which is good.

It was a brilliant day, and the craic and the company was good too. I don’t know if i will enter next years one though, especially because Ushi will be 7 and i like entering with her. I’ll have to see how she goes.

If anyone is wanting to sponsor me, my page is
Here
And it’s open for another 3 months. I have reached my target, but every little helps, as they say.

I would like to thank everyone for making today such great craic. I think i shall head to bed shortly, and hope my legs aren’t too stiff in the morning lol. That’ll teach me for running at the end though.


A Humbling Experience

Sometimes you experience something or you meet someone that just makes you stop and think. Tonight was one of those ocasions.

So tonight, i was in the loo waiting on a train home. These two ladies were standing in the corner. They wanted to stroke Ushi so i let them as i washed my hands. When i came over to get Ushi again, they started to talk to me. They started to tell me that they were both losing their sight due to a genettic condition. They told me that they didn’t know if they could trust a dog to guide them, so i explained about the different services guide dogs offered if they ever felt they needed anything. One of the woman seemed to get quite cut up and explained that she had lost her sight in her left eye and that she had partial sight in her right. She told me that she did use a cane but got knocked down whilst using it, so that has completely knocked her confidence. She told me that her pet dog seemed to know she was losing her sight, as he would have crossed in front of her when she came toa kerb, for example.

We chatted for at least another 10 minutes, and i get the feeling they probably have never met another visually impaired person. I asked if they had received any help from the health trusts, and they said they didn’t. I found that very sad. They both told me they just were getting on with it. They were very fistey women who weren’t going to let it get them down. I told them that at the end of the day, we are the same as everyone else, and sometimes you just had to get on with things. I obviously wasn’t that preechy. That last sentence seemed preechy anyway lol.

I finished the conversation by telling them to take good care of themselves. I honestly felt very humbled or something after that conversation. I’m not even sure humbled is the right word, but i thought about those two ladies all the way home.

I hope the two women got something out of the conversation, even if it was just kisses from Ushi, and a chance to pet her. I really do hope they get help at some point if they need it. I felt that they really needed to talk though. It’s good to listen sometimes :).


Going Back To Basics

I had to go right back to basics with Ushi earlier this week.

Ushi had taken to rushing after her meals. She wouldn’t come down stairs with the pups around, so i kind of had to nearly drag her down. She’d then spend and then rush back upstairs resulting in her being sick. I asked twitter on Sunday night what i could do to stop it. I figured it was because of the pups she was rushing as she wasn’t sick at my uncles when we were up seeing the Script.

Someone suggested i take Ushi down on the lead after meals and bring her back up again. So i thought it would be worth a try.

Well this morning Ushi was sick but apart from that we’ve managed 4 days without her being sick. When we’re going downstairs after food, i’ll put her on the lead, and when she goes to rush to get away from the pups, I stop and give her a correction on her collar. This seems to be working, and she’s even walked downstairs when we’re going for a walk without rushing which is brilliant. I’ve also been getting her to sit when we get upstairs to chill for a minute. The only thing she isn’t doing is sitting at the back door, but that’s because the floor is wet or there is a pup behind her. I’ve just been saying sit though to get her to.

Ushi has even started playing with some of the pups since Monday. This was after 5 weeks of her being terrified of them! We’re keeping one called Angel and Ushi will play with her and has put her in her place a couple of times. I’m so glad she has accepted them now! It just took time. 2 of them have homes this weekend, and the rest are going next including 4 to Scotland!

I’m going to keep Ushi on her lead after meals until the rest of the pups go just to make sure she won’t rush. That was what most worried me. I’m so glad though that within such a short space of time she’s being so good. That seemed to be all i needed was just to go back a few steps with her. Hopefully she’s got the message!