OJ and I did lots of traveling by public transport last week. Buses, trains, cars and taxis, and he seemed to enjoy it all. Sometimes I really wish I could drive, but having O.J is definitely the next best thing. He makes life so much easier.
Last Friday morning we got the bus to Dublin and met Nicky and Orrin. We all got the train to Cork, which took just over two and a half hours. I’m so used to going to Carlow that Cork didn’t seem much longer at all. We stayed in the
Oriel House Hotel,
in Ballincollig. It’s a lovely hotel and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful. There is grass within the grounds of the hotel too, which is always a bonus when you’re bringing a dog. It isn’t too far from Irish guide dogs HQ, so they are familiar with seeing guide dogs around the area and often have guests staying with their dogs. It was strange being in Cork and not going to visit the centre, but we weren’t there for long.
When the dogs were fed, we decided to go for a walk and get our own dinner. We asked for directions to an Italian restaurant that was recommended to us, and after asking four or five different people along the way, we found it down a side street. The food was lovely, and as we left, I wondered how we’d find our way back because I really didn’t remember the whole walk there. Orrin kept in front as usual and got us back to a wide crossing, which a couple of boys had helped us with on the way there. O.J usually likes to follow behind, but at this point he insisted on being in front, and walked confidently until we were practically outside the hotel. It’s the fastest I’ve seen him work in a long while, and his enthusiasm for finding the way was very impressive!
After breakfast on Saturday we met a friend of Nicky’s and his baby boy, and had coffee in the hotel bar. Staff were a bit nervous because they were testing their coffee machine for the first time. We gave them plenty of practice because we all asked for a different type of coffee. The coffee was lovely, the machine worked fine, and the staff member gave it to us free! My cousin, his wife, their two kids and some of his wife’s family came to meet us and we had a lovely lunch together. The dogs were very chilled out and didn’t bother the young children at all. My cousin insisted on driving us to Kerry. It saved us doing two bus journeys, and the lift was really appreciated.
We spent the next few days in Killorglan with a friend of Nicky’s who I’ve only come to know in the last year. We were looked after very well, and on Tuesday I didn’t want to go home. We spent the weekend eating, talking, meeting her lovely family and lots of really lovely people, and just having a relaxing time. The dogs got lots of attention all weekend too. It’s great to stay somewhere with somebody who loves dogs, because they are made so welcome and nothing is a problem. I think they pick up on this too, because they settled in quickly and made themselves at home. Maybe too much at home sometimes, because they barked every time people came to the door, and it was a busy house!
I’d never experienced anything like the night out that we had in Killorglan. The pubs were very different from home. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly, and I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere around the town. I found the sayings and phrases that Kerry people used particularly interesting!!
One of the best parts of the weekend was when O.J’s puppywalkers came to visit us on Sunday afternoon. We had met before five years ago, and I always knew that I wanted to see them again while O.J was still working. On Sunday they had a chance to see him being both hyper and relaxed (he seems to spend his time alternating between these two moods these days!) I know they came out of their way to visit us, and I really appreciate it. The work that puppywalkers do is so important. Guide dog owners can’t thank them enough. It’s lovely that they have taken such an interest in O.J and the things we get up too. They could have just acknowledged the first phone call I made to them, sent me a letter with photos and left it at that. I’m glad I’ve had the chance to ask them questions and find out more about the life O.J had before he eventually came to live with me. The poor dog went from probably a peaceful gentle lifestyle to the torture of living with me, my noisy music and even noisier family and friends! I told them that they can have him back when he retires, but only if they move to Donegal!!
The journey home on Tuesday took almost nine hours. O.J was a star, and got lots of attention on the way. Nicky and I had a conversation on the train about how many people you actually come into contact with when you own a guide dog. Some people might find this annoying, but I love meeting people, and most of them are usually friendly. If I didn’t have O.J, public transport definitely would be a lot more lonely and a lot less interesting.