blogs, dogs and music

I have nothing too exciting to write about these days, but just wanted to mention a couple of blogs. I found
R’s blog
through a link that someone mentioned on
She lives in the US, always joked that she would never see her thirtieth birthday because of the kind of lifestyle she used to live, and she went blind when she was 29. She’s an amazing writer and its very interesting to read.

I’ve mentioned
before. She has been waiting for her first guide dog for over 18 months now, and could have a new furry friend very soon. Check out her blog and read what she thinks of the potential new dog and how they get on.

I had to work later than planned today, so OJ didn’t get a nice long walk in this nice dry weather. My uncle is up from Limerick and he came for dinner yesterday with his wife and 5 children. Of course OJ loved it! They all came to visit me in Cork when we were training, and they thought OJ had grown a lot. We’re going out for dinner with them tomorrow.
I’m recording another radio show tomorrow. I have most of the music planned I think. I know I’ll definitely be playing a couple of tracks from the new swell season album ‘strict joy’, which was just released last week. A few friends heard the show on monday. It was the first time people I know, who like the same music as me listened, so it was interesting to hear what they thought.
I was supposed to go to Mick Flannery on halloween night. I hate going out and dressing up for it so it was a good excuse to get out of it, but that’s not happening now. Funny story, but lets just say I think my friends in love, though she’s not admitting it!
Happy halloween everyone!

ps. If you have any blogs or sites you think I might like, post links in the comments section. I’m looking for new things to read and new people to meet, and also just curious to see what people come up with.

Subject = none in particular!

As well as the Josh Ritter gig on Sunday, OJ and I have had a busy week.
Last friday we went to visit one of the sixth classes in the local primary school. The teacher taught me when I was at the school, and I talked to her class around this time last year as well. They were very attentive and well behaved, and asked lots of mature, sensible questions.
There teacher gave me a lovely thank you card in braille, as well as a lovely present today to say thanks. I don’t expect anything like this at all. It was really nice of her.

On the way back from the pet shop after the school, I went for lunch with my PA. We met a young man called Shaun, who has autism and is terrified of dogs. He became scared a number of years ago, after a dog jumped on him and the owners did nothing to stop it. He has met OJ many times on our way to the beach and has gradually came over to pet him. On friday he recognised him straight away and his parents were delighted. They would love him to have a dog, but since OJ is the only one he will touch at the moment, they don’t know if he will ever have one.

We walked to town last saturday, and after visiting my granny, OJ and I met one of my best friends for lunch. Lunch took about an hour and a half because of the lovely weather, and we were entertained by about 5 children constantly around our table. They asked a lot of questions! Then I got my hair cut and OJ tried to eat my hair as it fell. He always does it! Gross!

Tomorrow could be a good day. The new swell season and REM albums are out. I should be saving money, but sometimes there’s things you just have to buy.
My friend Mark is on a quiz team who are in the semi-final of the all Ireland Ray Darcy quiz on today fm. The finals will be broadcast live from Vicar Street tomorrow, between 9 and 12 a.m. on today fm.
I had hoped to be in the audience for this, as it would have been great fun. Unfortunately that won’t happen and I’ll have to listen from home. Good luck Markee. I know you’ll do well.

We don’t get a bank holiday on Monday. There is one in the republic, and one of my radio shows is being broadcast between 5 and 6 PM instead of a regular presenters. I’m not sure which one it is.

Currently listening to: Alison Curtis on today fm
Currently reading: ‘one voice: my life in song’ by Christy Moore. Its a really brilliant book.

The happiest man in music

I went to Belfast yesterday to see
Josh Ritter
and the love cannon string band in the Empire. A friend from Derry got the same bus up as me and OJ and we met two others there. We had a few hours to relax and have food and coffee before the gig. OJ had a chance to dry out too.

The support act began before 8, so things started nice and early. I have no idea what his name was, so that shows how good he was! Josh came on smiling from ear to ear as usual. His string band also featured Zach (who plays in his own band) on double bass. I wasn’t sure about all the strings, and especially the banjo with Josh’s acoustic folk style, but by the third song I loved it! The crowd were brilliant, and apart from the noisy glasses at the bar, the venue is great for Josh. He loves playing there too and it shows. They played a two hour set of songs from his four studio albums, along with some new ones that people really seemed to enjoy. They played a beautiful version of ‘moon river’ as well. We didn’t get a springsteen cover, but I suppose you can’t have everything!

OJ is getting very used to this gig thing now. Steven who is the manager in the venue was very helpful, and got us a table with some seats where OJ wouldn’t get stood on. He was so good during the gig and got lots of attention when it finished.

Josh is known for being very friendly, and usually always takes time to meet people after he performs. He stood talking to people, taking photos, signing cds and tickets and giving hugs (he gives the best hugs ever!) for two hours, and he was still smiling when we got to talk to him near the end. I think he was glad of some non-human company too. OJ didn’t mind waiting so long because people kept petting him. Adam the banjo player even came over to say hello. Everybody was so friendly, because the vibes from the stage are infectious. I met a girl who I hadn’t seen in five years in the queue. She retired her first guide dog last year. It was great to catch up with her quickly, but I wish we’d met sooner.

Josh was great fun and asked lots and lots of questions! He wanted to know all about OJ, and when I told him the only other gigs he’d been to were Christy Moore’s, he said he thought he looked like the sort of dog who would like Christy, as he’s so relaxed and placid! When Josh petted him for the third time he tried to walk away. Josh said he wasn’t sure if OJ liked him, but I reassured him that he likes most people, and that he was probably just dying for a pee!

We listened to music and watched one of the
DVDs when we got home. Three of us got the same bus back to Derry, and talked about music practically the whole way, and probably drove everybody else mad. We have so much in common, don’t all know each other too long, and would never have met if it wasn’t for the frames message board. We all shopped in Cool Discs before I went back to work and the others dossed for the rest of the day.

Josh thinks he’s going to be back in April or May next year. I can’t wait already. If you don’t already know him or his music, he’s inspired by people like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Check out his albums and then take the opportunity to see him live if you can. You’ll understand why I like him so much after you’ve done that.

Bits and pieces

OJ and I haven’t done anything too exciting recently. My works getting a little busier, and his is always busy! This weekend I have a family dinner for my uncle’s anniversary, and I’m going to a Kings of Leon tribute band. OJ might come for dinner, but not to the band. He wouldn’t like them. He’s coming to a gig with me soon though.

We were in the local newspaper on Wednesday to promote flag day in Donegal. \it takes place tomorrow and people will be collecting all over the county. We’re not collecting this time. We always do the church gate collection and another guide dog owner does flagday. The article included the picture of us with Roy Keane.

Thanks to everyone who commented on the post about the guide dog age limit being reduced. It was the most popular topic I’ve ever posted here, nothing compared to the amount of comments other blogs get, but its still really nice to read them all.

who is without doubt, the hardest working assistance dog I know, has started a new blog about cooking.
will come in very handy when your feeling hungry, as the family will share lots of yummy recipes.

If you’ve nothing better to do tomorrow between 12 and 1 PM, the radio show I recorded last friday will be broadcast on Inishowen community radio.
Its a bit dodgey as I hadn’t done one in months, but I accept slagging, no problem!

UK guide dogs to drop age limit

I know I know, two posts in less than 24 hours, but I’d be really interested to hear what you think of the article below.
Maybe we can have a bit of a discussion in the comments section. I personally think its crazy, but I’ll stay quiet for the meantime.

Guide dog age limit to be dropped

Charlotte is helped around her school by guide dog, Paris

Guide dogs are going to be available for visually-impaired children in the UK for the first time – as the age limit is removed.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is to begin training dogs to help blind or partially-sighted people under the current limit of 16.

The association says too many visually-impaired youngsters are lacking in independence and mobility.

“These young people end up isolated,” says chief executive, Bridget Warr.

The charity says many visually-impaired youngsters have only a limited social life and have to endure bullying because of their disability.


Giving some of them guide dogs at a younger age is intended to help them to widen their range of activities and to improve their sense of self-confidence
and independence.

Charlotte, helped by guide dog

Charlotte is one of the youngest people to have had a guide dog

Guide dogs for these younger teenagers will begin to be provided from next year.

“The picture that emerges from our research is shocking. Children are being conditioned to expect to underachieve for the rest of their lives when in fact
sight loss is no barrier to actively contributing to society when the right support is in place,” says Ms Warr.

There has been a pilot scheme to test the use of guide dogs with younger people.

Charlotte, aged 14, from Northampton, was among the youngest guide dog owners. She has been gradually losing her vision since the age of eight – and lost
her sight completely this year. She has been assisted by a two-year-old Labrador retriever, Paris.

Charlotte used to have a long cane to help her move around but says having a dog allows her much more freedom and makes her feel safer.

At her school, St Paul’s Catholic School in Milton Keynes, there is a dedicated unit helping the school’s 12 vision impaired youngsters.

However the association says there is a worryingly patchy provision of services for young blind people across the UK and it calls for national minimum standards
to be introduced.

As with adult blind and partially sighted people, only a small number of children are likely to be deemed suitable for a guide dog. Most will continue to
rely on extra help and training from education and social services.

There are about 4,600 guide dogs helping people – with a Labrador-retriever cross the most commonly-used breed.

a busy Friday

I went to Derry today to an event by poet, and former children’s laureate
Michael Rosen.
There were approximately 600 children there to listen and get books signed. I only stayed for an hour to hear his presentation, as there wasn’t much I could do to help (the VAC where I work was hosting the event.) He was very interesting and entertaining and the children seemed to really enjoy it. OJ behaved well even with so many children around him. I only realised when I took him out of the car in Derry that part of his harness that goes under his belly had come off and was at home, so it was even harder for him to control his excitement, when he technically wasn’t working. Good boy OJ!

I bought the new Pearl Jam, Noah and the whale and Dave Geraghty (its for a friend, I don’t need two copies for myself) albums in Cool Discs and went to the radio station to record a show. I hadn’t done a music show in ages, technology failed me so many times and I couldn’t seem to remember names of anything even though I had it all brailled in front of me. OJ was great here too. He just sleeps in the studio and doesn’t move until I take my headphones off when I’m finished. Then he can’t get out quick enough because all the girls who work there will pet him.

My dad and I went to the school to vote in that God forsaken Lisbon treaty and then we all had a yummy indian (dogs do not get Indian food ever.)

My nephews are staying with us tomorrow so if its dry we’ll take the dogs somewhere. We have a spanish student until Christmas and he really likes them so its great. I have a party tomorrow night because one of my friends just finished her PHD. Three years of hard work needs to be celebrated properly, and she got a job straight away too. OJ will have to stay at home for this one I think.

Finally, there’s a nice interview with Glen Hansard in the Irish times:
I know you probably don’t care, but i’m looking forward to hearing what the frames do next when they eventually come back.

Currently listening to: ‘the first days of spring’ by Noah and the whale
Currently reading: ‘the van’ by Roddy Doyle
I love it simply because the dog is called Larrygogan!