adventures in Glasgo

I took OJ on his first ever flight last tuesday to Glasgo. I went mainly to visit Insight Radio (the radio station for blind and VI people) and it was worth the trip, which turned out not to be as straightforward as I had hoped.
On monday afternoon I noticed OJ licking his paw in work, but thought he was just being annoying. He wasn’t himself when i got home, and wasn’t any better on tuesday. I had to ring the vet and take him there before we went to Derry airport to get our flight. The vet thought he had probably been stung, as he was hurt underneath his chin. She gave him tablets and an injection, and had no concerns about him flying to Scotland. He was a lot quieter than usual and wasn’t very interested in what was going on around him. The plane journey went fine which was a relief. OJ walked up the steps excitedly and didn’t take much notice of the strange feeling during takeoff and landing. The plane almost landed in Glasgo, then circled for about 15 minutes before landing properly. The passengers were more nervous than OJ was.
Michael who was meeting us thought we were flying into Glasgo international airport, and we didn’t even know there were two airports, so we had to wait there for three hours before he finally contacted us and we got the train to Central Station. Our flat was usually used for student accomedation and it was fine. We had a big room with lots of space, but OJ wasn’t in the mood to go exploring when we got there. We went for dinner in the Oran Mor and to two pubs, where OJ slept on the floor in each one.
I went to the radio station the next morning. It was very wet so we drove there. There were two guide dogs there, black labs Lisa and Troy, and they were lovely. OJ slept in Troy’s bed all day while i got a tour of the building and facilities and saw the shows being planned and broadcast. The staff were so friendly and helpful, and i felt relaxed and very welcome there.
We had dinner in the flat and left OJ there when we went out for drinks. He was still miserable and a bloody watery stinking pus was coming from his wound.
I went to Insight radio without OJ the next day. Everyone was asking about him, and Troy who seemed to sense that i was missing my dog followed me around a lot. I did an interview about being in Thailand when the Tsunami happened, and this will be broadcast on the station on the next anniversary of the tragedy. I was also interviewed for ‘web wise guy’ and the review section of a program called the buzz, which is aimed at younger VI people. The work that the station does is unique, and it was nice for me to hear how radio is done through a blind person’s perspective. The presenters were happy to answer all my questions and encouraged me to get involved with the station whenever i want. I promised i would come back to visit them, and definitely if Mikey returns there after Big Brother, as he’s apparently quite a character even at work.
I went shopping for a couple of hours with mammy, and on our way to the Oran Mor to meet the boys for dinner we saw Sandy Tom (i wish i was a punkrocker…) singing in an Apple store. There was lots of people watching her, so we stayed for a while to listen. She was very good and it was a strange surprise to see her randomly.
The journey home the next morning went well. OJ still wasn’t any better, but he was so good, even though he was in no mood to be travelling in a taxi, a train, a plane, and the Jeep home, with another stop at the vets on the way. The male vet said he had a bad infection, and gave him another injection and stronger antibiotics to take for two weeks. He said the injection would reduce the itch allowing the infection to clear up because he will stop trying to scratch it on every surface he can find. We took him for a swim in the sea to cheer him up yesterday. Hopefully he’ll be ok to bring me to work on tuesday.
Insight radio was definitely worth visiting, and hopefully I have made some useful contacts and will stay in touch with them. Having an unwell guide dog did spoil things a bit, but hopefully he’ll be in a better mood next time we fly somewhere.
Current music: Joy Devision – love will tare us apart (the Last Splash on today FM)
Currently reading: In the Key of Genius; the extraordinary life of Derek Paravicini
by Adam Ockelford

since last week…

Last week was very quiet in work compared to the previous one. I walked the new route to the bus with OJ a few times with no problems. I went to Derry on Friday with D to get a few things and she helped me and OJ to learn to find different shops more easily. He wasn’t really in the mood for working and lay down in cooldiscs when i was having a lengthy discussion about music with the owner. I bought David Geraghty’s album ‘kill your darlings’, and despite mixed reviews i’d got from friends i think its excellent. Its so different from what he does with bell x1, and shows many interesting aspects of his musical creativity, that are especially impressive on a debut album.
It rained all day on Saturday so we didn’t go out anywhere. We took the dogs to the beach on Sunday, but i don’t know if it was worth the stress. OJ ran out on to the road when i took him out of his run. He never ever does this, so i got very angry with him and left him inside for a while before going to the beach. They were both hiper, but OJ was unusually worse than Dougal. I washed Dougal and OJ after, because we are going to Glasgo on Tuesday with OJ and Dougal is staying in my sister’s house. I got completely soaked but they are lovely and clean now.
We are flying to Scotland at 1 tomorrow. I can’t feed OJ in the morning encase he gets sick on the plane, which hopefully won’t happen. I hope he’s not afraid of it. I will be in the radio station
Insight Radio
For most of the day on Wednesday and Thursday. I don’t really know what to expect so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. My parents, OJ and I are staying in a flat with their friend. It will be the first time OJ has stayed in my room since we trained in Cork so hopefully he won’t wake me up too early.

Clever boy

I’ve always been amazed at how much you can train a dog to do, and O.J. keeps reminding me of this since we started training. I have noticed so many changes since we began training a year ago, and i have learned so much. Apart from becoming more relaxed and confident when I’m out with him, I can see how much he uses his intuition. Sometimes he’ll stop at an obstacle before deciding how to get around it, and because he’s quite a sniffy dog, I’ll tend to encourage him on instead of waiting for him to make a decision, as i think he’s doing something naughty.
There have been a few times where we’ve gotten slightly lost, and I tend not to trust him as much as i should to find the right way back. Sometimes I’ll be wrong, sometimes he’s wrong, and sometimes we’re both wrong. This happened to us the other day, and it reminded me again of how much i should learn to trust him.
We learned a new route home from work, coming off the walls down a ramp, which I’ll need if the gates where we usually come off the walls are closed. This is a slightly longer way that brings us back to the steps that we use to then find the crossing to the bus depot. I showed O.J. it on the lead before walking him in harness twice, so i thought we’d try it on Monday evening as i had plenty of time to get to the bus. We didn’t reach the steps, but i didn’t think we’d gone too far yet. O.J. stopped and i encouraged him forward, but he wouldn’t go. He stood there for a second and then turned around and brought me back to the steps. It was another occasion where my dog proved to be smarter than me and he knew it too.

Other random things this week:
The maiden City festival was on, and our online radio station
Verbal FM
is covering the events. There are performances in the cafe all week, and I have to interview musicians after them. I interviewed the excellent classical guitarist Sean Woods on Tuesday. He was great fun, and when we were getting our photo taken together afterwards O.J who was lying quietly throughout the interview decided to jump in too. Sean was laughing and calling him into the photo, and then told us that he has been terrified of dogs for years! What a brave man you never would have guessed.
As soon as the next interviewee came in, we asked if he was afraid of Dogs, and he said he owned 5.
Also there’s a busker who insists on busking on the walls outside our window at 10 to 2 every afternoon this week. He sings (if you could call it singing) ‘black is the colour’, ‘you fill up my senses’ and ‘hallelujah) every day without fail. and I’m worried that someone from our office will give him a piece of our mind soon and he won’t like it one bit! Wonder how much money he has made so far? I could guess… and my guess is not much!
O.J and Dougal went to the beach on Friday evening and they both loved it. I really must take them more often. Me and O.J did lots of walking this weekend.

The gift of music

Its August bank holiday monday, and because \I’m in Derry me and OJ are at work. He didn’t want to get into the jeep this morning, and wined a bit going up the road, so i think he was annoyed about going to work as well. I did get an extra half an hour in bed though. I took OJ’s bed from home into the office, because Dougal keeps eating the rubber underneath, and a white mat in work looks more dirty. The Maiden City Festival is on this week, so i have to interview the musicians who play in our cafe at lunchtime. I got about 15 albums on my computer yesterday, so new music is keeping me entertained and making the day fly. Nick Drake, Bonnie Prince Billy, JJ Cale, Lambchop, iron and wine and calexico and lots more, not forgetting “rob’s songs, crafted by his own fair hands and ears” (don’t ask!) They are all brilliant.
I’ve been very busy out with friends for the last couple of weeks. We booked a weekend in Barcellona with people from work at the end of November. I won’t be taking OJ, but he’s coming to Glasgo with me and my parents on aug 19th. Encase i didn’t mention already, I’m going to visit insight radio, which is a station for blind and VI people. I will be there for two days observing and hopefully picking up some new ideas. I’m really looking forward to it, and hopefully OJ will like the plane.
I have also booked tickets for Christy Moore in the Millennium Forum. I don’t know who is going with me but its not until november. I’m taking OJ too, as Christys quite quiet, and i want to get him used to going to different places. We have to sit near the back so there’s more space for him to lye down. Hopefully he won’t make any noise or Christy will have him turfed out!