Up Donegal!

If your reading this and your Irish, chances are you’ll already know that Donegal won the All-Ireland Gaelic football final last Sunday. They’ve only won it once, back in 1992. I watched the match with my family in my uncle’s pub, and it was very exciting. Donegal led throughout the match, scoring two goals against Mayo in the first eleven minutes, making them very deserving winners of the Sam Maguire cup.

 

I’m not mad about sport, but I loved watching the match and enjoyed the fantastic positive atmosphere in the county this week. Everyone is very proud of the Donegal team, and rightly so.

 

The highlight of the weekend for me wasn’t just the match, but the fact that Nicky got us two tickets from Carlow, which were very difficult to get. My brother came back from Afghanistan and went with my dad, so it was a nice unexpected surprise. He went back today, but the very short visit was better than not seeing him for maybe another year.

I’ll miss seeing the Gaelic team bringing the cup through our town tomorrow because I’m going to Portugal for a few days. Obviously I’d rather the sun than standing in the cold, but I’m hoping I will get a chance to hold the cup when it comes to the local primary school. Last time I held it I was six years old, and I thought it was huge because I was so small. I’d also love to get a photograph of O J with the Sam Maguire, and If I do I’ll post it here.

 

Jimmy’s winning matches!! 😀

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Retiring a dog

My boyfriend Nicky’s dog retired at the weekend. He retired a couple of days after his tenth birthday, after being a working guide dog for over eight years. Ralph could be described as a gentleman of a dog. Every time I’ve seen him he was so quiet and obedient you’d hardly know he was there. He was an enthusiastic worker, and loved to be petted and fussed over like most dogs. I don’t know any dog who enjoys rolling or eating icecubes as much, and the big shake he sometimes did while working used to always make me laugh.

O J and Ralph had a funny relationship. They got on well together, but O J didn’t constantly wind Ralph up and want to play, the way he does with other dogs if he thinks they’ll react.

 

I was there on Saturday when Ralph’s new owners came to collect him. He is living in an ideal situation for any retired guide dog, on a farm with lots of space, four other dogs and most importantly, with people who absolutely love animals! He retired when he was happy and healthy, the ideal situation for any dog.

 

The lead-up to Ralph’s retirement has made me think a lot about O J’s, and how much I need to consider beforehand. I hope its at least three or four years away, but its worth thinking about in advance. I’ve learned that its easy to assume that you know who will take care of your dog if you can’t, but its good to have a backup plan encase that person’s circumstances change over time and they are unsuitable to keep your dog. I’ve always thought that the ideal situation would be to notice that your dog needs to retire, and go on the waiting list while you are still working that dog. That way you’ll hopefully go from working one dog to another, and not have a long wait in between dogs. When a guide dog is your preferred mobility aid, going back to a cane or assistance from friends and family can be stressful, so the less time you have to do that the better. On the other hand, I think maybe a short break between dogs could be nice, even if its only for a couple of weeks. Maybe going from one dog to another is more emotionally draining than you’d think. There’s probably no correct way of doing things, everyone is different and experiences things differently, and whatever way you do it, its going to be tough. I would hope that guide dog organisations are helpful during the retirement process, but I’m not sure if they understand what its really like from a blind or visually impaired person’s point of view.

 

I have also thought a lot about what I want in my next dog, and what to specify in my matching visit. Like I said, I hope this is all a few years away, but the weekend has made me think about it all a bit more. In the meantime, O J and I will look forward to getting to know the new dog that Nicky will be working with.