My review of 2010

Now that We’ve survived Christmas, which involved excited nephews with lots of toys, lots of lovely food, a few nights out with my best friends, and some nice presents such as clothes, make-up and new music, its time I wrote about the year that was 2010. Apart from our government being a joke and the country being in a huge financial mess that affects everybody who lives here, It was mostly a great year for myself and O.J. If I didn’t keep a blog I wouldn’t remember half of it!

In January 2010 I
lost my job
As a result of lack of funding, and a week later, I got
a new one.

In February I spent my 24th birthday in London with my mum and sister, and we went to see Lion King the musical, which I’d wanted to see for years.
O.J got his first professional groom, and I applied for his pet passport in March.
In April I did an amazing work placement for a week at Radio Foyle. O.J came with me and was always the centre of attention. I think its fair to say we both enjoyed it a lot!

In May I had five amazing
guest posts
On the blog, from guide dog owners who wrote about different stages of owning a dog. They are definitely worth a read if you haven’t seen them already. Guest posting is a feature I want to do again on the blog next year.
I was also asked to be a guest blogger on Peter Nagle’s blog
2uibestow
Where I wrote five music-related posts.

June was a busy but brilliant month. On the 3rd, my gorgeous nephew Harry was born, the following week my brother came home, and the week after that we celebrated my dad’s
sixtieth birthday.

O.J had an
operation
To have his anal glands removed in July. He recovered well after a slightly difficult start, and hasn’t looked back since.
We worked on developing a disability awareness project in work, which meant that O.J and I featured in a few newspaper articles and on a few school walls.
I gave my first talk to secondary school pupils in October in
St. Cecilia’s College
In Derry and it was really enjoyable.

O.J took his third flight in November, when we went to
Cheshire
To visit my cousin’s school.
December was the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced in my life, but when the yak trax I bought from Amazon finally came in the post we managed much better than previous years in the ice. I missed a lot of days at work and it restricted us a lot, but there was no point in getting annoyed about it when there was nothing anybody could do.

As usual, music was an important part of the year. I attended my first music award ceremony In Vicar Street In March, Duke Special’s Hector Mann performance, two Neil Hannon Gigs with O.J, that incredible Glen Hansard gig in
Dunlewey
In September, and two of the Frames 20th anniversary gigs in December, (I found out I definitely had a ticket for the Wheelans gig 3 hours before jumping on the bus from here to Dublin!)

I haven’t made too many plans for 2010 yet. That’s because my main plan is to renovate an existing house and move in at the end of the summer if all goes well. Hopefully I can improve at my job and learn new things, and O.J’s work will be as good as it usually is. I also hope we can go new places, have new experiences and meet new people.

I hope everyone has a happy new year, and a healthy and happy 2011.
) 

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Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and the kennels were still,
with most dogs now asleep having eaten their fill.

The Labradors sprawled out, quite snug in their beds,
while visions of ANYTHING edible danced in their heads.

And the Goldens and Shepherds curled up on the floor,
some twitched in their sleep and some even did snore.

The dog food was stacked in the feed room with care,
in hopes that a trainer soon would be there.

On the window ledge, one of the kennel cats lay,
surveying the lawn at the end of this day.

Something was different, that little cat knew.
Tonight something would happen, it had to be true.

For that day as the workers had left to go home,
they’d wished Merry Christmas! before starting to roam.

The dogs had noticed it too during this past week’s walks;
the trainers seemed just that much happier and eager to talk.

In the mall where they worked through the maze of people and stores,
there were decoration and music and distractions galore!

Most dogs pranced along without worry or fear,
but some balked at the man on the sleigh and those fake looking
deer.

The cat was almost asleep too when he first heard the sound,
a whoosh through the air and a jingle around.

It reminded him of a dog’s collar when the animal shook,
but this sound kept on growing. He’d better go look.

From the ceiling there came a faint sort of thunk,
as the kennel cat climbed to the highest pile of junk.

Once before people had worked on the roof
and come down through the trap door to a chorus of “Woooof!”

But the dogs still were quiet, all sleeping so sound,
as this man dressed in red made his way right on down.

He patted the cat as he climbed past his spot,
and then made his way right to the trainers’ coffee pot.

A shepherd sat up, not fully awake,
then a Golden followed her with a mighty loud shake.

That did it! All the dogs sprang to life with loud noise.
In spite of the din, the old man kept his poise.

He filled the pot full and it started to brew,
then he pulled up a chair and took in the view.

Dogs all around him, so carefully bred,
he knew well their jobs, the blind people they led.

Some had stopped barking and looked at him now,
while others delighted in their own deafening howl.

Laying a finger in front of his lips,
the jolly old man silenced the excitable yips.

“You all may not know me, but I’m Santa Claus,”
the old man smiled and took a short pause,

While he filled up his mug with hot liquid and cream,
“I’ve always wanted to stop here. It’s been one of my dreams.”

The cat had climbed down and was exploring Santa’s sack.
“Yes, little kitty, that’s an empty pack.”

Santa smiled as he drank and looked at those eyes,
deep brown ones and gold ones held wide in surprise.

Some of these dogs, he’d seen just last year,
in their puppy homes, cute and full of holiday cheer.

He’d seen the effects of a pup on the tree,
but now they were here at the school, just waiting to be.

“I didn’t bring you presents or bones just to chew.
I’ll tell you something better, what you are going to do.”

“You all will work hard and the trainers will share,
both praise and correction, gentle and fair.”

“You’ll go lots of places and face big scary things.
You’ll ride buses and subways and hear fire sirens ring.”

“Cars will drive at you but you will stand strong,
not moving into danger, not moving toward wrong.”

“And then just when you think that this trainer’s the best,
the kindest, and funniest person, toss away all the rest,”

“That trainer will begin to ignore you and give you away,
handing your leash over despite your dismay.”

“Now the person who pets you and feeds you will be
a blind person.
That’s a person who can’t see.”

“This man or this woman may see just a tad,
but their view’s missing parts or the focus is bad.”

“So you, well trained dogs, will act as their eyes.
You will work as a team and discover the size

Of this great world we live in, because you will go
a million new places with this person, you know.”

Santa sipped at his coffee and looked over the brood,
knowing what he had to say next might sound kind of rude.

“Not all of you will make it and become canine guides.
Your time here isn’t wasted though. You won’t be cast aside.”

“Some of you will be drug dogs and some will find bombs.
Some will become pets in a home with a dad and a mom.”

“All these things are important. People wait on long lists,
to receive such good dogs as you, the school folks insist.”

The last drop of coffee had gone into his cup
as Santa turned, smiling at each wide eyed pup.

“The best gift of all is to give something back.
That’s why there’s nothing for you all inside of my pack.”

Draining his mug, Santa went to each pen,
and petted and scratched each dog again and again.

“Now next year and many more years after that,
you all will give gifts wherever you’re at.”

“You might lick a hand that’s had a bad day,
Or notice a car and step out of the way.”

“You might help catch a crook or discover some loot,
Or just bring some joy to a tired old man in a funny red suit.”

“Your master will love you and treat you with care.
In return, your training and trust will always be there.”

After the last dog had been petted and soothed,
Santa put away the coffee pot and made ready to move.

Up the ladder he rose to the door high above,
with a smile and a wave as he slipped on his gloves.

And all the dog ears were pricked as he disappeared out of sight.
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!”

~ Author Unknown

Happy Christmas to anyone who has read here during the year. I hope Santa paws comes to all the dogs and they get something nice.

O.J got his first Christmas present last night. My friends and I always go to my cousin’s pub on Christmas eve eve to do secret santa and open our presents. I got a CD and O.J got a stocking. We ended up being the last ones to leave the pub. The girls were singing Christmas songs and didn’t want to leave! O.J didn’t know what to think of it all.

I usually spend most of Christmas eve visiting people and giving presents, before going to mass and staying in my sister’s house, so I can see her excited children getting their presents in the morning. Christmas would be boring if there weren’t any children around.
Have a good one everyone.
Jen and O.J xx

Dougal m"eats" Santa

Living with my two dogs is like living with the angel and the devil. Dougal has ate some crazy things in his almost four years of existance, but last week’s episode was his biggest achievement to date. How he is still alive, never mind perfectly healthy, I will never know.

I went up to my room after work to find a plastic bag in the middle of the floor. The only thing in it was a small bell. I was very confused for a few minutes, but then a quick look around my room confirmed my worst fears.
Dougal had eaten not one but three Lindt chocolate Santas, tinsel and all, only leaving one little bell. These are pure milk chocolate, and if you ate one yourself you’d feel slightly sick. Imagine a dog as small as Dougal eating three?

The next six hours were not good. I won’t go into detail, but lets just say there was a lot of constant cleaning up to do. My cousin who is a vet said to keep an eye on him encase of seizures, because chocolate can be fatal for dogs. He was very dehydrated and had a racing heartbeat, but I knew by how sick he was that he would probably be fine.

After a much needed bath the next day he was back to his usual self. His thieving habits haven’t stopped completely, but he has moved from chocolate to opening Christmas presents now.
Go fetch mine Dougal!

emails

My inbox had some nice things in it this morning:

1. an email from guide dogs in Cork saying their pups for sponsorring have been put online. Over the summer I mentioned that my mum and some friends did a charity shop and raised 2,500, 500 quid for five different charities, one being Irish guide dogs. I decided to use the money to sponsor two pups for my three and twelve-year-old nephews. two black pups, Doodles Harris and Holly will be going to live with a family soon, who will look after them for the next year. My nephews will receive their first update about them this week.
Danny pulled a wishbone for the first time the other day. His dad was explaining what it was and how you had to make a wish and not tell anybody. A few minutes later he came over and whispered in my ear, “I wished for a real puppy!” I can’t give him one, but this is the best I can do.

2. I got my first COAPE assignment back and got an A – 90% It will probably go downhill from there!

3. I am attempting to help a teacher for the blind in Minnasoda, who got in contact through the blog.

4. I went to see the Frames on Saturday in Belfast. It wasn’t my favourite frames gig but still amazing, and I met up with some great people again. I contacted the students union where the gig was taking place to see if there was anywhere I could leave OJ during the gig, as my parents weren’t at home. They thought about it for an hour but told me they didn’t have enough staff because of students doing exams, and they wouldn’t take the responsibility of leaving O.J on his own. They couldn’t guarantee that some drunk person wouldn’t go over and start petting him. This was completely understandable and they were very appologetic. It worked out for the best because Belfast was so busy with Christmas parties. It would have been a guide dog’s nightmare!
Anyway this morning I got an email from a staff member who was absent at the weekend. She said that in future if there were staff availible, (probably any other time of the year) O.J would be more than welcome.
Josh Ritter’s playing there next year. I just might have to go now and take them up on their offer.

"I Can See Clearly Now"

Sabrina McKiernan from Tralee recently released her debut CD to raise money for Irish guide dogs. She qualified with her first guide dog Ned when she was eighteen years old, and says that deciding to train with a guide dog was the best decision she has ever made in her life.
O.J and I met Sabrina in Cork in February 09, when she was working with her second dog Ella. During the summer, apart from being busy putting her album together, Sabrina trained with her third dog, a labradoodle named Vaz.

She has always enjoyed singing, and chose songs for the CD that meant something special to her or someone in her family. The Cd contains twelve tracks that people know well, such as ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’, ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Danny Boy’ and the title track – ‘I Can See Clearly Now’. There are no backing tracks on the Cd, musicians – Aine Murray, Alfie Curtin, Billy Curtin, Jimmy Canty, Ger Hurley and John Curtin all recorded live with Sabrina.

You can purchase a copy of the CD for ten euros from the guide dogs website
here

I’m just waiting for mine in the post.