‘For The Birds’

On 30 March 2001, The Frames released their fourth studio album
‘For the Birds.
Having been previously dropped by two record lables, and having little trust in the music industry, the band released For the Birds independently, on their own record label, ‘Plateau’. They were determined to do things differently, and make a record for themselves, not for music producers. They were aware that they could potentially lose many old fans in the process, but there was a possibility of gaining many new ones as well, and that’s exactly what happened.

The initial sessions for For the Birds began in a country house in Kerry in the spring of 2000. The band rented a house for two weeks, played music, wrote songs, cooked each other dinner, went for walks and had fun. Later that year they travelled to Chicago to work with sound engineer Steve Albini it his
Electrical Audio studio
and if you’ve ever heard Glen Hansard talking about this in interviews, it is clear that it was an incredible experience for them all.
The album sold more copies in the first few weeks of its release in Ireland than all of the band’s previous albums put together. It was very different from anything they had done before, but it was obvious that the band made the right move by finally making music the way they wanted to.

‘For the Birds’ was the first Frames album that I ever bought. I have a crazy memory, so can recall that day very well. I was in Dublin with my mum, visiting UCD and trying to decide what course I wanted to do and where to study when I finished secondary school. Before getting the bus home, I went to HMV and bought the album because ‘Lay Me Down’ was on it. I remember being disappointed when I heard it first because I didn’t look at the track list and was expecting to hear more songs that I was familiar with. ‘Lay Me Down’ was the only one. I didn’t listen to it much until we went to visit my brother in Australia a few weeks later, where I had lots of time to relax, and not enough music with me. I’ll admit the album took a while to grow on me, but it is one of my favourite Frames albums today. I think you really have to be in the mood to listen to it, and it is best suited to long drives or listened too on headphones late at night.

So why am I talking about ‘For the Birds’? On 30 March it will be ten years old, and since its release was such a turning point in the Frames career, they will perform the entire album in Vicar Street in Dublin. Tickets went on sale and sold out today, but luckily I have mine. I’ve decided to tell certain people who already think I’m mad for wanting to see this band so many times that I got free tickets. It kind of justifies my madness a little bit 🙂
I really wanted to take O.J to Dublin with me then, as it will make getting around much easier. I could bring him in during the support band, an amazing band called
who I’ve wanted to hear live for a long time. They play guitar and stringed instruments, and no drums. I decided to ask the staff if there was anywhere I could leave O.J during the Frames performance, explaining the reasons that I wrote about in
this post.
If they said no, I had nothing to lose. They actually said yes!
This is a very positive step for an Irish music venue, and one I am very grateful for. I just hope O.J stays on his best behaviour when I am watching my favourite band. He will be able to accompany me for post-gig drinks and meet some friends who are looking forward to meeting him afterwards.

What if your not a doggy person?

What if, you are visually impaired or blind and want to be more independent. What if, you use the cane but aren’t comfortable or confident or don’t feel safe walking with it. What if, you hear guide dog owners speak of how much freedom and independence their dogs give them, and how they couldn’t imagine not having one. What if, you would love this freedom, confidence and independence, but don’t really like dogs. You haven’t had much experience with them, and you worry that you wouldn’t be able to bond with one or look after one properly. Is it possible to be matched with a suitable guide dog and develop a good working relationship with that dog and trust it to guide you safely? How do you trust that dog if you don’t really like dogs? And, in that case, do you view your dog as a mobility tool rather than a companion?

Anyone who knows me already knows that I am a doggy person, have always loved dogs and will hopefully always own at least one throughout my life. I couldn’t wait to begin guide dog training, because training with a dog was all I had ever wanted when I was small. The training was difficult, challenging and exhausting, but I really enjoyed it. I’m convinced that one thing that made it a bit easier was that I had lots of previous experience with dogs. I could concentrate less on the daily care of the dog, and more on the new skills and techniques that I needed to learn to work with it effectively.

I know there are people who successfully train with guide dogs who have had little or no experience with dogs before. I have heard of people who were afraid of dogs before, but for some reason decided to overcome their fear and train with one. I know someone who enjoys working with their own guide dog but isn’t too fond of other dogs. I also know that there are people who view their guide dog primarily as a mobility aid that helps them get from A to B safely, and could do without the so called companionship it offers when it is off-duty.

I’m not saying the above situations are wrong, or the incorrect way to approach guide dog ownership. If anything, I admire people like this. It must be very difficult to put your trust in an animal if you aren’t very fond of them to begin with. It must be difficult to have to put so much time and energy into looking after it, cleaning up after it, taking it to the vet etc. I’d imagine its difficult to bond with a dog if doing this doesn’t seem natural to you. It must be a huge learning curve, and one I don’t honestly think I’d be brave enough to deal with. I doubt there is evidence that suggests that people who have had lots of experience with dogs make better guide dog owners or are easier to train. There is a good chance that they tend to concentrate on the pet dog aspect or on previous experiences more, and lose sight (pardon the punn) of the fact that the dog is a working animal and things have to be done in certain ways. If you can successfully train and work with a dog no matter what your doggy background is, the instructors will give you one. If you weren’t suitable, you wouldn’t be matched. As long as the dog is healthy, happy and working well, that’s the main thing right? Or is that enough?
Can someone possibly go from not really liking dogs to successfully working with their own guide dog?
I’m just curious!
and bored

Guide Dog Training, From Cork to New Jersey!

This week, two guide dog owners began training with their second dogs. Although they will share similar experiences as they bond with their new pups, the main difference is that they are sharing these experiences from different sides of the world.

Darragh and Ike
are training at the guide dog centre in Cork in Ireland, where I trained with O.J, while
Julia and her dog Kerry
are training in Morristown New Jersey.
It is interesting to hear their first impressions of their new dogs, their challenges, frustrations and expectations for the future, and the similarities and differences in the way they are trained. It brings back a lot of memories for me, and its hard to believe that I trained with O.J three and a half years ago. I can’t imagine working with another dog, but of course it will happen someday. I don’t want to compare my future dogs with O.J, but I suppose its only natural. I just hope I don’t have to do it for a very long time.