Holiday preparations

In my first post of 2012, I think I briefly mentioned that I’m going on holiday with my family in February. We’re all going to Thailand to meet my brother and his girlfriend, and to celebrate his 30th birthday since he won’t be home for it. It was all very unexpected and unplanned. To cut a long story short, its a chance to spend quality family time together, which we don’t often get to do, and lifes too short not to. We just happen to be going somewhere amazing and warm to do it!

Dog owners will understand when I say its not always straightforward to go on holiday and leave the dog. Putting a guide dog in kennels is an option for some people but not for me. Apart from at the vet, when he was probably too sick to care, O J hasn’t been in kennels since I began training with him in Cork almost four and a half years ago. He has a passport but I’d never even consider bringing him to Thailand as its too long of a flight, it would be too hot for him and I don’t want him getting any Asian animal diseases! Anyway, I’ll have three nephews to keep me busy!
I’ve never found a suitable place to leave O J when I’m on holiday. The place I used to leave him was fine. He was kept with Dougal inside and walked regularly, but he was fed too regularly too, which really annoyed me. The people were so good to him and felt that he should be spoilled when I was away, not really realising how that could affect his work when I got home.
The guide dog organisation in the UK has boarders who volunteer to look after guide dogs. They know what to do and what not, and its a fantastic idea if you ask me. I would love to be a dog boarder if they ever did something like that here.
No such thing exists here, and all the dog lovers I know already have dogs of their own and couldn’t watch O J, even though they’d love to.
I found a good solution that I’m very happy with. My aunt has agreed to watch O J in her house, and walk him the days she isn’t working. My cousin is using my house to study and she will keep O J company there when my aunt is working. That way he gets the best of both worlds, walked and company every day, but he gets to spend a bit of time in our house as well. Hopefully the fact that I’m not there every time he goes home won’t confuse him too much. He knows my aunt and she knows how we work together. My cousin is willing to learn. At least I’ll be able to text them if I want to know how he is behaving himself.

So one dog’s sorted, what about the other?
Dougal will have to go to kennels, but he’s very independent and not really bothered about people so I think it suits him fine. I’ve looked at a few and while they all had pros and cons, I’m going with one I visited today that the dog groomer recommended. The family are respected animal people, and the kennel owners are successful show dog participants. They run a small kennel in a quiet area, and although the actual main kennel building didn’t smell the nicest, the kennels themselves were spotless. She feeds her dogs what I feed Dougal so I don’t have to bring food, making them the best value kennels that I’ve found.

So as you can see, I’m very fussy about my dogs! Hopefully they will enjoy their holiday as much as I will enjoy mine, providing the waves stay small of course ūüėÄ

Guest Post: Guide Dog Awareness

Hopefully you’ll be glad to know that the monthly guest posts are still happening in 2012. The first one of the year comes from Allison, who is raising her fifth guide dog puppy. Check out her post and find out more by visiting
her blog.

Thank you so much to Jenny, for letting us be a guest blogger!Most of you guys have seen (or heard of) a guide/service dog. Some of you may have family
members or friends that use a guide/service dog. But do any of you know the extensive training that goes into those wonderful animals?
I do because I help raise & train them.I open my home up to a cute little 9 week old pup (from
Southeastern Guide Dogs
), and for the following year, I will raise & train the dog, having him/her with me 24/7. Making sure to keep in the back of my mind, that once the time
is up… the dog will head back for “further” training, and then hopefully be placed as a guide/service dog. Which means, this dog¬†was never mine in the
first place¬†– I’m just someone in it’s life, that will put an imprint on his/her heart and help it get on the long road, to hopefully¬†becoming a¬†guide
dog. Our blog (okay…
Brandon’s blog
) is about the life of a guide dog in training. If you decide to follow his blog, not only will you be following “a guide dog puppy’s adventure” you will
be following a blog that explains and shows the extensive training put into these wonderful dogs and the amazing outcome once they go back.    Though Brandon
is still quite young, training¬†does start early, so Brandon already has¬†most of¬†the basic commands “under his belt” (sit/down/stand/stay/come/etc) he
will soon start using & learning the basic guide dog commands (find the door/switch/heel/forward) and much more. To mix things up a little, I have also
started teaching Brandon “ASL commands”.¬†Brandon adores learning sign language, and he¬†soon will be doing¬†ASL¬†just as well as a regular command! Brandon
does go everywhere with me (shopping/church/meetings/college/etc) and he really enjoys working. We also attend monthly guide dog meetings, where other
dogs in the group are also in training to be guide dogs.Brandon is a 4 month old male yellow lab. His favorite chew toys are nylabones… and boy does
he like to listen to the sound of them being dropped on hard surfaces! Brandon really enjoys going on walks, and is already doing a great job at maintaining
a “loose leash”. Brandon is the 5th guide dog puppy I’ve raised for
Southeastern Guide Dogs
, and though it’s a roller coaster ride,¬†I truly enjoy every second with these puppies! Questions are always welcome over at our blog, some people may¬†ask
training questions – others wonder about certain “guide dog rules” we follow, either way, we really enjoy answering them all!If you are interested in the
training that goes into these pups, feel free to stop by
Brandon’s blog
, we always enjoy new visitors!

2011 was great, bring on 2012!

Christmas and new year was so good and so busy that I didn’t have time to even think about writing here. Instead of reflecting on 2011, I thought I’d post this instead. Some questions have been thrown in to make it all more relevant to me.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Moved to my own house and borrowed my first ever bank loan.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No, and no.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My granny. I miss her every day.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
More new music. Everything else can keep going the way it is.

7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
26th October, the day i moved house.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Moving house, though there were other important ones too.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Losing my external hard-drive with lots of music and things that I really wanted to keep. Epic fail!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, thankfully.

11. What was the most spontaneous thing you bought?
A Paul Simon ticket. Something I’ll never buy again but totally worth it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Nicky’s for winning Glor Tire 2011.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Everybody in the Irish government.

14. Where did most of your money go?
On house things.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Showing people my house when it was finished.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Probably ‘pumped up kicks’ by Foster the People. Not my favourite song of the year but it will remind me of it.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? thinner or fatter? richer or poorer?
Happier, thinner, poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Went to more gigs, but i always wish that!

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worried about stuff that wasn’t that important really.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
In my sisters. Was woken at 5 by my nephews, had pancake breakfast with family and aunts, opened lots of presents and had a lovely dinner.

21. How did you spend new year’s eve?
With family and boyfriend (now there’s a word you don’t see written around here much!) at a party in my aunt’s house. Had an amazing night, and an amazing weeke in general.

22. What made you very proud?
Watching my mum coming home to a surprise party that she had absolutely no idea about.

23. What was your favourite gig?
The Mic Christopher tribute gig in Vicar Street.

24. Musical disappointment?
REM splitting up.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Decemberists, even though they aren’t a new band, I’m a bit slow!

26. What did you want and get?
My house.

27. What did you want and not get?
Funding for my job and for a radio project.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
None stand out.

29. Greatest guide dog related moment?
OJ’s quick recovery from an operation in September.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Walked to my new house for the first time with OJ the guide dog. Had dinner with my sister and cousin. I was 25.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Nothing really. Lots of unexpected but great things happened.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Cheap but stylish clothes from Penneys!

33. What kept you sane?
Music, family, brilliant friends.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
None really.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The London riots. Sickening.

36. Who did you miss?
My brother in Afghanistan, and my granny.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Didn’t really meet any new people, but in a way it feels like i did.

38. What one event in 2012 are you looking forward to?
Being in thailand with my whole family.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011?
Talk about stuff instead of worrying about it. You might be surprised what a difference it can make.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
As Jamie Lawson would say,
“I wasn’t expecting that”

Happy new year from me and OJ. I hope 2012 is a great one!