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I got a lovely surprise last Friday. The teacher who’s class I took O J into gave me a bottle of JLo perfume to say thanks. I was delighted!
The first time i ever touched a guide dog was when I was in first class or my third year of primary school (aged 6 or 7.) A local woman who has since passed away took her dog Beth in and let me pet her. I wanted a dog more after meeting hers. I’ll always remember that day in school, and if I can bring the same amazement to children by letting them see O J then visiting schools is worth it. Its a simple thing for me to do, and I don’t expect any presents in return, so this was a lovely surprise.
My mum teaches kids in the mainstream primary school that I went to. Her class consists of six teenagers who have special needs, and I know them very well from doing voluntary work there. They decided to surprise me by visiting me in work today. I had a quick cup of tea with them as it was too early for me to have a lunch break. It was good to see them and OJ loved the attention.
I have been getting some nice comments about my blog and I have discovered some other blogs I like through them. I really enjoy reading
Darragh’s blog
And on that blog I found
The other Darragh’s blog
It is interesting stuff, and in particular,
this
Is one of the most amazing and well-written posts i’ve ever read…

I’ve been asked to write some articles for ‘insight magazine’, The RNIB’s educational magazine for parents, teachers and professionals working with blind and vi people. Its a nice chance to get some writing published, and of course I’ll post the articles here if they make it into the magazine.
Maayan Gordan contacted me from Seattle, WA. She is raising her second dog Shep to become a guide dog, even though she’s only 17! The website and blog are
here

I’m off to Liverpool on Thursday for two days thanks to my 2 pound flight! O J will come next time hopefully.

Currently reading: Chronicles vol. 1 by Bob Dylan
Currently listening to: Rick O’Shea on 2fm

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Thought this was nice…

(I stole this from the Irish guide dog mailing list that I recently subscribed to, thanks to Darragh)

A Dog’s Purpose:

Because I am a vet, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found that he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt Shane might learn something from the experience. The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane,who had been listening quietly, piped up, ‘I know why.’Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation.
He said, ‘People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?’ The six-year-old continued, ‘Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.’
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like: When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a car ride. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy. Take naps. Stretch before rising. Run, romp, and play daily. Thrive on attention and let people touch you. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass. On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree. When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough. Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you’re not. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently. Always be grateful for each new day and for the blessing of you.
ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY! Pretty good advice, huh?(Author Unknown)

Quiz

I was asked to come into one of the sixth classes on friday to talk about blindness to the children. They were learning about Louis braille and had prepared questions to ask me. They asked about school, work, passtimes, learning braille and of course O J. The questions were all sensible ones because they were old enough not to ask crazy ones. O J was well behaved and the class was very quiet and well-mannered. I brought in O J’s whistle and play collar with the bell to show them. I also gave the teacher a copy of ‘guidelines’ and a quiz i made up the night before .
We went to ICR afterwords and I recorded a show. It got off to a bad start but when all the equipment was working it went ok. The playlist was:
Kings of Leon – on call
Ryan Adams – New york New york
REM – supernatural, superserious
Mark Geary – Angel
Foy Vance – homebird
Bruce Springsteen – girls in their summer clothes
Badly drawn boy – something to talk about
Bon Jovi – someday I’ll be saturday night
David Geraghty – fear the hitcher
Bob Dylan – Carrina Carina
Alanis Morrisette – I’m not the doctor
Arctic monkeys – you know I’m no good
Foofighters – razor

Training Review

O J had a few more days off to allow his infection to clear up, and I took him back on wednesday. In the afternoon I got a phone call from a guide dog trainer in Cork (not the one who trained me and O J) to say she would be in Buncrana tomorrow and wanted to see us. I got the day off work no problem. I was a bit nervous about my annual review as O J was in good form again but still taking anti-biotics. I had nothing to worry about- he was brilliant. We walked to granny’s house and back so Claire could see how we worked together. We met lots of dogs and O J ignored them all. She was happy with how well he responded to me and how quickly i was able to know what he was doing and correct him for sniffing. She advised me when and when not to take his lead when we are crossing, as his tendancy to walk to the left is still very strong. She said unless there were any major problems I wouldn’t have to see a trainer for another year.
I think O J really knows when to behave. The following day we were walking to town and he had to go to the toilet cos of the tablets he’s taking, and he did the biggest dog poo ever in the middle of the path. Stinky! I’m just glad the trainer wasn’t there.
We have a spanish student until Christmas who loves dogs, so we took O J and Dougal to the beach on Friday evening. We went to the boys club on saturday morning to watch Jack’s football matches, and O J loved all the attention from the children. He was tempted to chase the football but he’s learning to ignore it.

Currently listening to: people typing in work
Currently reading: just finished ‘out of sight’ by Joe Bollard.