My guide dogs radio documentary

On 1st May, I finally finished my guide dogs radio documentary. I only found a way to put it online today.
I made it as a voluntary project, to be broadcast on
Inishowen Community Radio
The radio station is very guide dog friendly, and often helps to promote fundraising events in Donegal for Irish guide dogs. I thought it would be nice to make a documentary that would give listeners a greater insight into what is involved in training and working with a guide dog. The documentary features guide dog and assistance dog owners from Donegal, as well as some staff from the Irish guide dogs training centre in Cork.

The music featured in the documentary is an extract from a track called ‘an old acquaintance’ by
Rob Bochnik
From his brilliant album ‘blowing out the cobwebs.’ As well as recording his own material, Rob is a sound engineer and a guitarist with
the frames
I am very grateful for his permission to use the music.

The documentary didn’t turn out exactly how I had hoped, and it’s not exactly a BBC standard production! I really enjoyed producing it, and I am very grateful to everybody who helped put it together.

You can listen to the documentary at


Go, jump

Darragh Doyle is jumping out of a plane next weekend, from a height of 13,000 ft at a speed of 130mph. He is doing the tandem skydive to raise awareness for a charity called
a Dublin based voluntary organisation that has been befriending older people living alone in Dublin since 1974. Carelocal recruits, trains and matches volunteers with an older person living in their area. Following the initial introduction, the volunteer then visits the older person in their home over a year and real and lasting friendships are formed.

Why he is doing it:
“I’m primarily doing it because people want to see me jumping out of a plane.
I’m doing it to help raise awareness for Carelocal and all the other charities that don’t have huge marketing or advertising budgets; I’m doing it because I was asked and most of all I’m doing it because I’ve never got the opportunity before and it will be fun.”

if you would like to donate some money you can do it at

Keep an eye on
Darragh’s blog
To see how he gets on.

Fair play Darragh. You’re a brave man! I don’t think I’d do it for all the money in the world, and I don’t even have to look down from the sky and see how scarey it is.

If you want to hear more from Darragh, check out
view from the quad
A great podcast blog, where Cian and Liz have a chat with the man himself.

guide dogs cycle and more

This Sunday, a group of cyclists will leave Mizen head in Cork, and begin a cycle to Donegal in aid of Irish guide dogs. They will arrive in Malin head on Friday afternoon.
I have gone to meet the cyclists at the finishline for the last few years. Every year they try to convince me to do the cycle and I keep telling them maybe next year. I need a few things before I can commit to it though:
1. to get fit
2. Somebody to train with me, which involves cycling a tandem!
3. Motivation and willpower
If I ever get all those things I just might do it, but don’t get your hopes up. It won’t be happening any time soon.
In the meantime you can visit
to find out more about the cycle and how to sponsor the cyclists.

Other stuff:
Wednesday was the last day of the intro to counselling course. It was good but I had had enough by the end of the ten weeks. I’m starting to teach radio training for visually impaired people in work next wednesday. I’m a bit nervous but I know two of the people attending so that should help.

I went shopping for dog stuff today. I got food, grooming brushes and a crate to help housetrain Dougal. Hopefully this will work because its very frustrating cleaning up after him almost every morning. I have to put treats in it each time he goes in so that he knows it’s a happy place. He’s got a nice comfortable bed in there as well. It will probably take him a while to get used to staying there with the door locked, so I’ll need lots of patience.
We went to a lot of shops, which OJ usually hates, and then to a chinese and he was so well behaved all day.

On the way home from Derry I got a text from OJ’s puppywalker, who found this blog. He said he is proud to have had a little input into looking after OJ. I think he had a huge input. I can’t thank him and his wife enough, and I’m glad he is interested in hearing how OJ is getting on.

Currently listening to: ‘harvest moon’ from Neil Young unplugged
Currently reading: Journey by Danielle Steel

My holiday to Cheshire

I’m just back from the best holiday ever! On thursday evening I went on the plane with Jen to Liverpool. Her aunt was supposed to come too but unfortunately wasn’t well. Pity cos she doesn’t really like dogs, but always pets me.
I was very excited when I saw Derry Airport because I love going on planes. The staff who worked there were very helpful and Jen was happy. I was not happy when they started searching her, as if she had drugs with her or something, so I stood in front of the lady and nudged her away. What did she think she was doing? She never even met us before.

Jen’s friends met us at Liverpool airport. They always give me cuddles and are very nice. They have a lovely house in Cheshire, which is about 40 minutes from the airport. They have no animals so I got lots of attention. They gave me a nice bed, so I was very brave and slept on my own downstairs.

On Friday morning we went to
Barnton primary school
where Sarah and Rob work. It is a lovely school, and the teachers and staff are so friendly. I must be the luckiest dog alive because I got to stay there all day. Jen talked to the children about guide dogs and what its like to be blind, and they asked hundreds of questions. We had to go into four different classes. I was so well behaved in each class because I knew that when they finished talking the children would come and pet me. I had over 100 children petting me in one day!! Talk about doggy heaven!

At lunchtime one of the teachers took me and Jen to a field where I could run and sniff. The grass was very long but it was good fun. We went outside with the year 3 children after lunch. They had to navigate an obstacle course in pairs, one person closed their eyes and the other person had to lead them. This was done to give them an idea of what its like to be blind. It was very funny to watch.
Some of the children made cards and books and drew pictures for me and Jen. They were really cute. One of the cards said:
“to Jennifer.
I hope you don’t mind being blind.
From Emily.”

When it was hometime the children didn’t want to go. Some of the mums and dads came in to see me and pet me. I didn’t want to leave the school either. I was tired when we got home, but I still had to walk to the supermarket before I could have a sleep. Some visitors came after dinner and they were very nice, but I couldn’t stay awake to play with them all the time.

On Saturday we went in the car and to a couple of shops. Then we went to Rob’s parents house. I know they have dogs because I could smell them, but I looked everywhere and couldn’t find them. I think they were in France enjoying the sunshine. We went to a restaurant and after the meal the manager came over and said I wasn’t allowed in. He didn’t realise I was a guide dog and he was very embarrassed when he realised. How could anybody not want me in their restaurant! We went back to the house with the dogs after for a while, and Rob took me for a run when we came home. He’s so cool because he lets me play in the big field.

Jen and I got on the plane at half 11 this morning. The staff were very nice at the airport again, and Jen said this was the best trip she’s had on her own. People came up to pet me when Jen was having her coffee, and one man told us that his daughter was a puppywalker. I slept on the plane until we landed in Derry. It was a bit bumpy but I wasn’t scared. Dougal was happy to see me when I got home and we went for a walk together. I didn’t miss him as much as he missed me, that’s for sure.

bits and pieces

This is another one of those all over the place posts, but anyone who reads this blog regularly is familiar with them by now.
Speaking of regular readers, thanks a million to everyone who posts comments here, and who follows what me and OJ have been up too. There have been a few newcomers during the last week, so I hope you enjoy reading. I will link to all your blogs soon and give them a mention.

I got my guide dogs radio documentary finished on 1st May like I wanted to, but haven’t found a way to put it online yet, which is why you can’t hear it. If anyone can recommend a free site to host audio, that is easy to use, please let me know.

OJ and I got our photo taken outside specsavers in Letterkenny last Friday for shades week. Students from St. Eunan’s secondary school were collecting for guide dogs, as was another guide dog owner, so we got photos taken with them too.
We went for a nice walk on Saturday when the rain finally stopped, and OJ and Dougal had a long walk and a play on the beach on Sunday afternoon. The weather was lovely, so we just lazed around outside and OJ got a wash for his holidays! We’re going to Cheshire on Thursday, and I’m really looking forward to it. Maybe OJ will post about it when we get back. He hasn’t had his paws near the keyboard in a while!

Ryan Tubridy has been given the job of presenting the Late Late Show on RTE from September. I think this is a great decision and I’m sure he’ll do well. He’s yung, intelligent, seems down to earth and most of all, he’s entertaining, and lets face it, the show seriously needs something to liven it up and keep people interested. And guess what? He’s bringing back “there’s one for everybody in the audience” as well!

Christy Moore was on Ryan’s show today. Listen to it

Now that I mention Christy, the best news of all is that he’s playing with Declan Sinott in
the Plaza
in Buncrana on 11th June. He played here years ago, maybe before I was even born. I’ve seen him three times before, but a gig in my home town will be special. I’m really glad that management at the venue are putting it to good use, and having somebody like Christy will attract a lot of attention. I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully OJ will come too, but I’m not sure if the venue is seated. There is a bar in the Plaza, but it closes during the gig which will be nice (can you tell I don’t drink?!) It would be lovely to meet Christy, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Check this out

About ten people asked me at the weekend if I saw Roy Keane on the Late Late Show on Friday night, helping to promote shades 2009. No I didn’t.
I googled it to have a look today, and although I found it I didn’t watch it. I got distracted when I found
this blog

I have read about Murray and his assistance dog Clive in the guide dog magazine and in some newspaper articles, and it is obvious that Clive has made a great difference to their family’s lives. It was great to find such a well-written and informative blog. Its also nice to see another Irish blogger connected with Irish guide dogs.
Now O J is jealous that he doesn’t get to blog as much as Clive does!

Shades week

Press Release: 30 April 2009


Today, Thursday 30th April 2009, recently appointed Ipswich Town Manager and Irish football legend, Roy Keane, officially launched the seventh annual Irish
Guide Dogs for the Blind (IGDB) / Specsavers SHADES campaign 2009. The campaign which focuses on raising funds for the training of guide and assistance
dogs, centres around a week of fundraising nationwide which kicks off on Monday 4th May 2009

Speaking at the SHADES 2009 Campaign launch in Croke Park, Roy Keane said;
“I’m delighted to be here to launch Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind/ Specsavers SHADES 2009 Campaign. It’s remarkable to see the positive impact a guide
dog or assistance dog has on an individual or family. I am a great admirer of their work and the effort put in by their volunteers and partners in making
a difference to others”.

Over the past seven years Roy has donated his time and support to the Irish Guidedogs for the Blind/ Specsavers SHADES campaign to help not only raise awareness
of the needs of persons living with blindness or vision impairment but also to raise much needed funds for the charity. Through the Specsavers partnership,
the campaign also aims to promote eye care.

The 2009 campaign has for the first time taken to the big screen with Roy and his trusted canine friend Triggs featuring in the campaign commercial. The
commercial will also be featured on television and will therefore reach a large audience of viewers.

Throughout May, SHADES pins will be available for purchase within all 34 Specsavers stores nationwide. Pins cost €2 each and can also be bought at Dunnes
Stores, Greyhound Stadia, UCI and Storm Cinemas and various other participating stores nationwide (
Alternatively, donations can be made by simply texting the word ‘SHADES’ to 51444. Normal text rates apply. The IGDB volunteers will also be selling SHADES
pins across the country in various shopping centres and outlets during SHADES week.

Padraig Mallon, Chief Executive for IGDB, said: “We’re really excited about this year’s campaign, especially the commercial, as it gives us the chance to
tell our story to the general public’.

It costs approximately €38k to train a guide dog, and while IGDB trained more Guide and Assistance Dog partnerships in 2008 than ever before in its history,
the demand continues to increase.

Padraig continues: ‘Roy’s contribution coupled with our partnership with Specsavers has positively contributed to the overall success of our fundraising
and awareness campaign and we are sure we will again enjoy the same support from our volunteers and the public as in the past. We are currently extending
our national headquarters and training centre in order to accommodate more dogs and clients for training. It is through the public’s generosity that we
are able to continue to grow our services for our clients who are blind and vision impaired and families of children with autism”.

The IGDB / Specsavers SHADES campaign also aims to remind the public to protect their eyes from harmful ultra-violet rays from the sun by wearing sunglasses.
Members of the public are invited to support the campaign by wearing their shades during SHADES week.

Speaking at the launch Specsavers chairperson for Ireland, Hugh Morris:
“Our partnership with the IGDB has been immensely successful to date and we are keen to build upon our efforts over the past number of years. It is important
to the Specsavers stores in Ireland that we support a sight-related charity and raise vital funds that can be injected in our communities.

Protecting your eyes from the sun’s rays is extremely important and many people are unaware of the damage that it can cause to your eyesight. The IGDB/
Specsavers SHADES campaign amalgamates the great work of the Irish Guide Dogs while highlighting the importance of sun protection and the need to have
an eye test every two years”.

So if you have any spare change you know where to give it this week!