On the Mend

O.J is almost ready to go back to work. I don’t know who is happier, me or him! He’s been so good since his operation, and has been making a really good recovery.

Last Tuesday the vet rang me to tell me the good news that O.J had two benign lipomas. That’s what they had expected, but it was a huge relief to have it confirmed. The vet took O.J’s stitches out on Friday. He was happy with how well the swelling on his side had gone down. My sister had taken him the previous weekend to have it checked as the wound looked very swollen, and she was worried. Apparently that was to be expected since the piece they removed was so deep down that it was almost near his lung. The day before when I was petting him, I found another lump under the skin on his neck. Of course I was a bit freaked out, but the vet almost laughed when he told me that sometimes dogs get a reaction to an injection. He seems convinced, and it makes sense because of where the lump is. He better be right!

The vet thinks it would be okay to take O.J back to work, but I don’t want to risk putting his harness on too soon. I’d hate it to irritate the area where the shaved hair is growing back, and the skin is already probably tender enough. I took him for a two minute walk to my aunt’s the other evening, and although he walked, he didn’t pull into his harness much. So we’ll be keeping his work short for another week I think. Luckily I don’t really have to be anywhere very important, and all this couldn’t have happened at a better time. I’m just really looking forward to going for a long fast walk along the beach again.

The Patient

Just a quick update on how O.J is doing since his operation.
I collected him on Monday evening, and he was very sleepy and sore from the operation and the anaesthetic. He could hardly stand up and was whining a lot. Unfortunately I didn’t get to speak to the vet who had done the operation, but the staff member was helpful and the vet had left very good discharge instructions. They are 90% sure that the two lumps that were removed from his side and under arm (or paw) are nothing serious, which is a great relief.

O.J’s recovery has been going well since Monday and he is improving every day. He basically spent the first two days sleeping, but was livelier yesterday and was showing signs of bordum. Myself and my dad took him around the park for a slow walk on his lead today. He was happy to be out but is very tired now. His stitches come out in a weeks time, so I just have to keep him from jumping around too much until then. He has wounds in two different areas so he has to be very careful. Luckily they are both on the same side, so he can still lean up against people with his other side!
Dougal has been staying with my parents just encase he gets in the way and accidentally hurts O.J. It’s very strange having only one dog.

Our Weekend

On friday afternoon I went to an annual dog show that took place as part of the festival in our town. My friend was taking her Lhasa cross Roxy in the show just for fun, so O.J and I went to watch. He behaved brilliantly around so many dogs, and enjoyed all the attention he got, even though he wasn’t even in the show. One of the organisers joked that they should have had a working dogs category, or if I put him in, he’d have won best dog overall.

The best part for me was getting to pet so many dogs, some types I’ve never seen before. I know about dog breeds and know what many look like, even though I’ve never touched them. My aunt asked her friend to hold O.J while she asked owners if I could pet some of the more unusual types. I particularly liked the Alaskan malimute, the Akita, and the gorgeous gentle white long-haired shepherd. It was interesting to finally see what a St. Bernard looked like without it almost attacking me. I couldn’t help wondering how O.J wasn’t seriously hurt before, because of how heavy they are. Ben the miniature poodle attracted a lot of cuddles and attention, as did the labradoodle x retriever pup, who I could have taken home. There was a bigger labradoodle pup, but he didn’t stand long enough for me to feel him properly. They are becoming pmore popular as guide dogs in Ireland nowadays, and I’d imagine it would take you a while getting anywhere with one, because people would constantly stop and ask about the dog. You can’t beat the labrador though, and a four month old golden one tried to follow O.J around and play with him as much as she could.
Overall, it was a good afternoon. All the dogs behaved well, and it was lovely to see children so involved in looking after their own dogs. I hope to go to Crufts someday, and if I do, it might be very hard to get me to leave!

It rained for most of the day on Saturday, which was disappointing because I had hoped to take the dogs for a long walk. I ended up leaving them at home and going for a drive and a hill climb with my dad, sister and two youngest nephews. We got soaked but it was great fun!
I did get a chance to take O.J for a quick walk on Saturday evening. Yesterday he came with us for lunch, and we walked around the town to see what was happening for the festival. I took both dogs for an hour-long walk in the evening. They enjoyed walking around the beach, which was part of the very first walk I did with O.J when we came home from training in Cork. It’s always a nice walk for both of us.

At 10 o’clock this morning I left O.J to the vet to have a couple of things checked out. I’ve been keeping an eye on a small lump he had on his side. Like before, it started causing him to lose weight, which is why I decided to have it removed. Just last week I found another bigger lump. Hopefully it’s nothing to be worried about, maybe a lypoma like last time, but better to be safe than sorry.
Blogging is useful, because I could go back and read about his recovery last time and remind myself what to expect if all goes well. He won’t be working for at least a couple of weeks, and I knew this was going to happen, so I made sure that we got as much walking done as we could at the weekend.

A Well Travelled Dog

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.