22nd June 2007 was one of the most important days of my life, the day i went to meet OJ for the first time. So much has changed in that year, and it has all been for the better.
Its funny how you remember even the smallest details about a special day. My aunt drove us to the train station in Laois to get the Cork train on the Friday morning. Jack couldn’t decide if he wanted to come with us until the last minute, when he decided to go. We had coffee on the train and met a lovely man (mr. O’Shea from Kerry i think) who was a retired teacher.
I was so excited when we got to the training centre. We had soup and sandwiches and i couldn’t wait until the trainer went to get OJ. I remember thinking he was soo big! He wasn’t sure what to think of us all fussing around him, but when i took his lead he sat and lay down and did everything i asked him too.
Mammy daddy and Jack went to look around the centre and i walked OJ on his lead in the corridor. Then we drove to a quiet residential area about 10 minutes away to do my matching walk. Queen’s greatest hits was on in the van, and the trainer was hoarse.
I was so nervous walking with OJ for the first few minutes, but i quickly relaxed and he seemed more relaxed too. I was delighted to be asked to come to Cork and train when we had finished, and i smiled the whole way back to the centre!
Back at guide dogs HQ we filled in a few forms and met some more guide dog staff. I even remember having a yorkie and Lucozade sport on the train on the way home. Jack had been comparing the price of the drink in different shops since we left Buncrana, and concluded that the train station was a ripoff!
I even still have some of the messages i got on the train:
“Are you in Cork yet? Did you see O.J yet? Is it wild exciting? Get a photo” – Veronica
“Im so happy for ya one of the best days of your life id say. Wahoo!” – Mark
“Hey Jenny Im soo delighted for you that’s great. will you have to give him a name? Dougal will be the craic…” – Jennifer
It feels like I’ve had OJ for ages now, and i can’t imagine having to use a cane again. I’ve got so familiar with his silly habits and strange likes and dislikes. He’s a funny dog but i wouldn’t have him any other way.