We left just after 6 on thursday. It was a bit strange grooming OJ outside so early in the morning, but we missed a lot of traffic so it was worth it. We stopped at the horse in Boyle. OJ has seen it a few times now but still loves to run and bark at it. We stopped at some shops before we went to meet his puppy walkers in Tralee.
I wasn’t sure how OJ would react, but he got very excited when I took him out of the jeep at their house. They live in a lovely area, with a river running outside that you can hear from the garden. Maybe this good start explains why OJ is always so happy.
They have a lovely golden lab who OJ probably played with and tortured when he was a pup. There are photos of each of the dogs that they have looked after in their house. OJ ran around the kitchen and whined a lot, which i’ve never seen him doing before. He seemed happy to be back and his puppywalkers were happy to see him too. It was nice to have the chance to ask them questions and find out why they wanted to look after puppies. It was good to see where OJ lived before he went to Cork and was matched with me. They said he hasn’t changed too much, apart from the fact that his legs are longer! He never liked walking in puddles when he was a pup and I told him he’s still the same now.
OJ got a walk in his old garden, and we took some photos before we left. I’m really glad we stopped there, and I think OJ was too. If it wasn’t for the puppy walkers we wouldn’t have guide dogs, so its probably nice for them to see their pups all grown up and working as guide dogs.
It was nice to see the guide dog centre again too. There have been some changes since I left 18 months ago. Members of staff have left and new members have joined. There is a lot of construction going on there, so the dog runs and grooming room have changed location. It was fine when I learned where they were. Two guide dog owners were doing the cookery class there. I have spoken to Sabrina on the mailing list before, and her dog Ella is so quiet and lovely. Gerry’s dog Orva is OJ’s sister, and I don’t know if they remembered each other but they definitely liked each other! I sat talking to them for a while when we came back from dinner in Tracys pub.
Its great staying at the centre because there’s a dog bed, bowls and a spending area there for the dog so everything is organised. OJ hasn’t stayed in the same room as me much since we left so I was woken up with a kong in my face early the next morning.
It was lovely to see the staff and trainers again on Friday morning, and as usual we were well looked after. I interviewed two trainers and the kennel staff for my documentary. I couldn’t really walk around in the kennels to record but you can hear some dogs in the background. The design of the new kennels allows the dogs to see one another, so their stress levels are lowered and they don’t bark much anymore. The staff there are great craic and I have a very funny unedited interview to send them. They had some lovely mixes of dogs there that I hadn’t seen before at the centre, and it was interesting to hear how different things will be when the plans for the new building are completed. The new renovations will mean bigger classes and more people coming in and out of the centre. The centre in Cork is the only one in Ireland, so the quality of the services provided depend on how well it is run. I really should visit more often. Its not so easy when your at the opposite end of the country, but when you start the journey it isn’t too bad. When you go back there it feels like you were never away, and I think it would be a really great place to work in. I have a wedding in Kinsale in September, so might call in then if I don’t go before that. I need to do the cookery course, and the leisure classes sound like fun. OJ might be back there sooner than he thinks, but not to stay of course!
Currently reading: ‘the curious incident of the dog in the night-time’ by Mark Hadden.
(I read most of it in the car on the way to and from Cork.)