Puppywalkers, You Do Amazing Jobs!

I went to Dublin on Saturday, where I met Nicky as we were invited to a 30th birthday party in the city. I was in Dublin for exactly 24 hours. It’s amazing what you can get done in that time!
We had lunch in a hotel that the bus stops outside. The staff are always friendly, so it’s a good place to eat. Then we took a taxi to our own hotel, the
Grand Canal Hotel
which isn’t too far from the city. It’s often difficult to get a hotel in or near Dublin city with grass nearby, and they can be so expensive, especially on a weekend. This one was in a great location, with grass and a bin just a minute’s walk away. The things us guide dog owners have to worry about!
The hotel staff were very helpful without being intrusive, and one in particular adored Sibyl! The breakfast wasn’t anything special and not worth the extra money, but apart from that it was perfect, and I’ll definitely be back.
The party was fun, and Sibyl did great. We met up with some friends and met some new people, which is always nice.

In between lunch and dinner before the party, Sibyl’s puppywalkers came to the hotel to see her. She went back to Cork for training in October 2013, they hadn’t seen her since and possibly didn’t think they ever would. I don’t think she particularly recognised them, but I know she’d remember their house if she saw it again. Two of their children couldn’t come but really wanted to see her, so we’ve promised to go and visit them soon. We talked for more than two hours, and it was lovely for me to hear about the places they brought her and how much they enjoyed having her. She was their first dog, but hopefully they will puppywalk another, because they were obviously very good at it.

I’m very lucky to have met both of my dog’s puppywalkers, and that they have taken such interest in their dogs and my life with them. These are the people who do all the hard work before the dog reaches training. These people are the heros of the guide dog world! I think Irish guide dogs could do more to connect puppywalkers and guide dog owners, both during training and when dogs qualify. I sent an email to their CEO this morning to suggest this, as well as an email to the manager of the Grand Canal hotel to tell him or her how helpful their staff are.

We Always Had Fun in Dublin!

In the last few years particularly, O.J has traveled to Dublin a lot, whether it’s on our way to Carlow, to visit friends, to go to a concert, or for work. He always seems to enjoy the change of scenery, and works enthusiastically when we are there. I never really took time to teach him particular routes there, but he remembers certain places, and is always happy to follow whoever we are with. We’ve been to Dublin twice within the last ten days, so I thought I’d write about both trips since they will be O.J’s last.

For my birthday in February, Nicky got tickets for the Barrytown Meets Musictown event in Vicar Street on April 12th. It was a musical and literary celebration of Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown trilogy (The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van.) I love his work, and love all three books, and the musicians were some of my favourite Irish musicians too, so it was a perfect present.
Before we went to Vicar Street, we had a lovely afternoon and evening with Darragh, Emma and Meabh, and Nama the dog. Orrin isn’t well at the minute, so unfortunately Nicky had to share a dog, but we managed. Well just about! After a lovely lunch, Darragh and Emma walked us to our hotel to check in, and we had a funny encounter with somebody on the way, which made the two boys almost collapse with laughter. I’ll say no more, but Darragh hasn’t left me a blog comment in ages, so maybe he’d like to tell more!

O.J was as happy as I was to be back in Vicar Street, where the staff fussed over him as usual. I think he missed Orrin when he stayed in the store, but they checked on him and took him out to see me during the interval. Our seats where right in front of the stage which was brilliant. The sold-out gig had a nice atmosphere, and we were all kept entertained. There were some hilarious readings from Roddy Doyle’s books, as well as his own input. The music was great, but I particularly enjoyed Imelda May, Damien Dempsey, and Colm Mac Con Iomaire who opened the show. There was a tribute to Tony Fenton, as well as a nice mention for Christy from Aslan, who unfortunately couldn’t make the gig due to ill health. It was also lovely to hear Imelda May and Glen Hansard sing together. The gig will be broadcast (and probably heavily edited!) on RTE Radio 1 at 3 PM on May 4th if anyone’s interested in hearing how good it was.

I was back in Dublin last Monday for work. Our funders for the schools disability awareness and development programme run an annual conference, where we were asked to have a stand and talk to students about our workshops. This week is the end of a very busy school term, so my colleague and I enjoyed relaxing when we got to Dublin. We met up with a good friend from home who I hadn’t seen in a while, and she was glad to see O.J before he retires. The next day was a busy day in the Aviva Stadium. I’d never been there before. It’s an amazing building, and the staff were very friendly and helpful. We met lots of students, teachers and people doing great work. I was particularly inspired by how much confidence some of the students have. O.J attracted a lot of attention as usual, and brought many people over to our stand.
When the workshop was finished we had a quick cup of tea before getting the bus home. It was O.J’s last trip on McGinley coaches, who have always looked out for us on our many trips to the capital.

O.J has a few more last time things to do before the weekend. Tomorrow will be his last bus journey to work, his last school, and his last day in the office. Then we have three more days together before I go to Cork for training, and he goes to my parents house to play and sleep and do lots of fun things, just not with a harness on.

Didn’t I tell you we’d be busy?

All this talk of retirement hasn’t meant that O.J is winding down at all. We’ve been busy recently, and he’s worked and behaved like a star through everything. This is a long post, but the point is, I love this dog!!

On Thursday 5th I went to see
Duke Special
in McGrory’s in Culdaff. It’s my new favourite venue. It’s intimate and cosy, the people who come really love their music, and you can order coffee and nobody laughs or thinks you are strange!
The gig began with some songs from a band called the Pox Men. I can’t even describe them. There were some good musicians in the group, but it wasn’t really my thing. I wasn’t expecting any full bands to be there and they were quite loud, but O.J never moved.
Derry singer/songwriter Soak played next. She’s only eighteen, and has been getting a lot of attention during the past year. There’s something about her voice that makes you stop and listen, and the audience were silent while she played and kept us entertained with her great sense of humour.
Duke special himself played next, a solo gig just on piano. He’s more than capable of doing a great job on his own, and although it was random, enjoyable and entertaining, it wasn’t the best I’ve seen him play. It was nice to talk to him before the gig, and O.J got to say hi too.
We got one of the best seats in the room, because we had a comfortable sofa and lots of space in front for O.J to stretch out and relax, without being in anybody’s way. I think this was why he was so chilled out during the whole gig, and people were surprised that there was even a dog in the room.

On Wednesday morning we worked in a local school, and took the bus to Dublin afterwords. One of the only bands I love but still hadn’t had a chance to see live was the Decemberists, so I was delighted when they announced a gig in my favourite Dublin venue, on a day when I had to be in Dublin for work anyway. Nicky and I met up, fed the dogs in our hotel and met my cousin for dinner before the gig. She walked with us to Vicar Street, and we were all very impressed when O.J enthusiastically turned left into the entrance of the venue without even being asked. He knew that this was a place where he would be spoiled and petted and well looked after, and as usual, the staff couldn’t have done enough to help us.
The dogs chilled out on a mat in the store room while we watched Irish band Windings, and then the Decemberists. The audience were lively and really knew the band so well. Colin’s voice is amazing live, and he’s very funny. They played for just over two hours, and they were brilliant. The wait to finally see them was worth it.
We left the gig happy, with two happy dogs, who would have stayed for another few hours if they had to.

O.J worked really well around the hotel and nearby area, especially since there was no grass like we thought there was. It’s only taken him seven years, but he finally leash relieved on concrete twice! This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but in the awkward life of O.J, it really was!!
He behaved great during the training day on Thursday. It was my first time going there on my own, but everybody is so friendly and helpful that it wasn’t a problem. Meeting up with them is very reassuring, and it makes me want to continue the work I’m doing in schools a lot more than I sometimes do when I’m in the office. Irish Aid’s
World Wise Global Schools
team are so supportive and easy to work with. One of them even took the time to wait with me until I got the bus home. We went for coffee and had a good talk, and the four and a half hour journey home felt a lot easier.
Next morning we were up early to travel to another school. The students have been brilliant recently, and they’ve done some great presentations as part of our workshops. Work is feeling a lot more promising than it did before Christmas.

O.J had a well deserved run on the beach and a swim yesterday after all his hard work. My sister washed him after the beach, so he’s lovely and clean. He really seems to be taking advantage of his Sunday rest today, but he totally deserves it.

A quiet February

My definition of a quiet February probably isn’t the same as most people’s. By quiet, I mean that I haven’t gone out anywhere at weekends and haven’t spent much money. It’s exactly how I hoped January and February would be this year. Last year was so busy, and although it was brilliant, I definitely want a less busy year.

During the last couple of weeks, I’ve got some things done that kept being put off, which is always good. The CD holders that I got in Ikea were finally put up, and all the CDs are almost labeled and sorted. They are much neater now, and I have a lot more space in my office. Getting a shelf up in the kitchen has also been a great help. But in a way, the most useful thing my brother in law put up was a hook to hang the dogs leads and O J’s harness. Sounds simple, but it makes life much easier!

I had a lovely few days before and during my birthday last week. Got some lovely presents as usual, lots of cake and lovely food in my sister’s house. Apart from making soup twice in the last week, I haven’t cooked dinner in my own house which is rediculous!

O J has been doing some great work recently. The weather is improving so we’ve been getting out for lots of walks. Even with Dougal trailing behind us, he’s been so enthusiastic to work which is brilliant. In the last few days he’s been randomly getting up from his sleep and coming over to be cuddled for a few minutes, then happily going back to bed. It’s actually very funny. Sometimes I wonder if he’s having a mid-life crisis or something these days, because he has these bursts of energy that are just hollarius. He has such a funny personality and makes me laugh every day. Nicky and I went to Kilkenny at the beginning of the month, and it was O J’s first time there. Not that he cares where he is, but I’m hoping to take him to a few new places this year. I’ve been thinking a lot about the great job puppywalkers do recently for some reason, and if O J’s were interested, I’d love to take him to see them again this year. See if I write that down, then I’m more likely to do something about it! Any excuse to travel 🙂

Another new place O J and I went recently was to Dublin for a training day for work. We stayed in the accomodation in
Allhallows,
which reminded me of my student days in Belfast. When my colleague booked our rooms and told them that I had a guide dog, they asked if there was anything they needed to do for us. There was lots of grass outside, and O J got a bit of a run around in the morning before we left for training. The staff asked how our stay was when we were checking out, and told us that O J was the first guide dog they’d ever had staying there. My colleague found it interesting to watch O J properly at work, since he’s usually relaxing beside my desk most of the time when we’re in the office. He was fascinated at how I know when there’s a step ahead. O J will put his two front paws on the step going up, and pause slightly before walking on, and of course I can feel this through the harness. I sometimes forget that people don’t really understand how a guide dog works until they see them in action.

I got much more from the training day than I had expected. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, and I think that deciding to link up with this particular organisation for funding for the schools project was a very good idea. If we decide to apply for funding for next year and are lucky enough to get it, I have a lot to think about in the meantime. Working only two days isn’t easy since I always like to be busy, so I’m doing a lot of thinking and googling these days. Two part-time jobs might be easier to find than one full-time one.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. Not sure who cares really, but I like writing haha.
🙂

The Lion King (audiodescribed)

Last Thursday, Nicky, Darragh, Emma and myself went to the
Bord Gais Energy Theatre
to see an audio described performance of
The Lion Kingmusical. I’d seen it in London on my birthday two years ago, but we couldn’t go to an audiodescribed version. I was nine when the film came out, and being crazy about animals, i loved it, and had almost every type of Lion King merchandise you could think of.

The highlight of the evening for me was the touch tour before the performance. People who were blind or visually impaired had the opportunity to touch some of the amazing costumes that would be on stage, and these are partly what makes the musical so brilliant. They are so colourful and elaborately designed, its impossible to imagine what they are like without touching them, so this was a great bonus. I particularly like Rafiki’s costume! The staff were great at describing them, and answering all my questions about the cast and the performance. I was very curious!!

After dinner we returned to the theatre where we were seated in the circle and given headsets. There were two audio describers who described half of the show each, so this provided an interesting mix. They read through the show notes beforehand, and did a fantastic job throughout the performance. It added so much extra to the story that I was already so familiar with. The fact that it was live was very effective, and the describers were down to earth and sometimes funny, without meaning to be. Everything made so much more sense when we had seen some of the costumes.

The musical is so much different to the film, yet never straying from the original story. One of the most amazing things about The Lion King is the music. The african music and singing gives me goosebumps, particularly in the opening five minutes during ‘the circle of life’. If you’ve seen the musical, you’ll know what I mean. The animals come into the audience and the atmosphere is brilliant from start to finish. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you have children who love animals.

The staff in the theatre couldn’t have been more helpful, from the minute i booked the tickets, to ensuring that our seats were okay, to checking during the interval that we were happy with the headsets and the description. The dogs were welcomed, with no fuss being made of them at all, the way it should be. O.J lay down before the performance started and never moved until it finished three hours later.

There were a few other blind and visually impaired people at the touch tour and the performance, though I’m not exactly sure how many. Its a pity there weren’t more, since opportunities like this rarely happen in Ireland. I’d advise anybody to go and experience at least one audio described performance of a show if you get the opportunity.

Radio Documentary Training

Last weekend I attended a radio documentary training course in the radio centre in RTE. The course was delivered by the “doc on one team”, made up of six documentary makers and producers. For anybody who doesn’t already know, a 40 minute documentary is broadcast weekly, as well as a short documentary as part of a series called ‘the curious ear’. There is a great variety of topics covered, and the documentary team have won many awards. You can find out more about the work that they do, and listen to over 1000 documentaries on their website
here,
which is definitely worth checking out.

The course ran from 9.30 until 6 PM both days, but it was so interesting that it didn’t feel long at all. We explored everything from coming up with the initial documentary idea, to recording and interview techniques, script writing and structuring the documentary, editing, choosing the music, use of sound effects and pitching ideas to RTE. This was something I found interesting, because I wasn’t aware that so much of their work comes from independent producers and members of the public. If your idea gets chosen, the documentary team will help you to put the documentary together. I’d love to do this sometime, because if you’re working in documentary making, these are the best teachers you could have in Ireland. There was an opportunity after every session to ask questions, and I learned a lot from this, as people often asked things that I was curious about myself. Their was an audio equipment company there who had equipment on display for people to look at and ask questions. I avoided it completely as I would only be tempted and don’t have the spare money I would need to buy all the things I want. They raffled a digital recorder, but of course I didn’t win.

Everybody was so helpful to myself and O.J during the weekend. Going into a big studio with at least 130 people that I didn’t know at all was a bit scarey at first, but I wasn’t going to let it put me off, and after about two minutes we were both completely relaxed. The staff brought my tea and coffee so we didn’t have to move around much, and accompanied me to the canteen for lunch, spending time talking and getting to know us. I met some very interesting people during both days. O.J behaved very well, considering he was sleeping on a hard floor for so long. He was happy to get back to my uncle’s house in the evening, where he could run around outside and get lots of attention.

The weekend was very informative and educational. It was one of those ones that you pay your money for, they deliver it, and you can take as much as you want away from it. It has made be listen to documentaries in a different way, paying more attention to particular things. It has also made me think about how I can record, edit and produce audio as a blind person. There are some limitations, and I wouldn’t be able to use all the equipment and things that they recommend, but its still definitely possible. Its the area of radio I’m most interested in, so hopefully someday I can do more of it. So many people in Ireland have so many great stories that are just waiting to be told.

Paul and Bruce

Who are Paul and Bruce you might wonder? If I said the names Simon and Springsteen, you might just have a better idea of who I’m talking about.

Last Friday Nicky and I went to see Paul Simon in the O2, the second Irish gig of his ‘Graceland’ 25th anniversary tour. We took O J and Ralph, who stayed in the radio control room during the gig because it would have been too noisy. It wasn’t actually as loud as I was expecting, probably since we were seated in the wheelchair section. I learned at Victoria Stilwell’s seminar that dogs hear at 67,000HZ, compared to humans hearing at 20,000, so I think we made the right decision. The staff in the venue were great with the dogs and couldn’t have been more helpful.

The gig was amazing, and the African musicians added a fantastic sound to Simon and his regular band. ‘The obvious child’ and ‘the boxer’ were personal highlights. The funniest moment came near the beginning of the gig, when a girl shouted “we love you Paul” to which he quickly replied, “I love me too. 28% of the time anyway.” Maybe you had to be there 😀

On Wednesday we were back in Dublin to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band, for the second of his Irish shows, and my third time seeing him. As usual he was incredible, playing for three and a half hours like he did the previous night, only leaving the stage for about a minute. He changed sixteen songs in the thirty-two song set list from the previous night, which is impressive, especially if you were lucky enough to go to both. The death of Clarence Clemence last year had a noticeable effect, but he was well remembered. His nephew Jake Clemence did a great job, despite sneezing and pulling his back the night before, and playing his sax from  a wheelchair. I was ridiculously jealous of the kids who were taken on stage, and the people who got their signs read and requests played. Some day I will be in that front row!! You can read reviews about the gig

<a HREF=”http://www.state.ie/43867-live-reviews/bruce-springsteen-the-e-street-band-dublin”>here</a>

And

<a HREF=”http://samsonsdiner.blogspot.ie/2012/07/bruce-springsteen-review-dublin-2012.html”>this blog review</a>

And there’s lots more online, which describe the gig better than I ever could.

Both Simon and Springsteen proved that they still absolutely love what they do, even after all these years of touring and performing. Paul Simon’s band sounded very tight and polished, while Bruce’s, even though they played effortlessly, sounded more like they were session musicians having fun. Both singers showed great respect for their band members, introducing them and name-checking them more than once. It’s nice to see the main performer not steeling the limelight all the time, and these two seemed happy to share it often. I know that my  musical highlights for the year are over, and nothing can beat or even equal the last week of music. Hopefully Simon and Springsteen enjoyed Ireland so much that they intend coming back very soon. I’ll be saving for tickets for both in the meantime!

Set lists below, thanks to

<a HREF=”http://www.swearimnotpaul.com”>Swear I’m Not Paul</a>

The second Paul Simon Graceland 25th Anniversary Tour show at the O2 featured a very special guest – legendary Irish fiddle player Martin Hayes. Martin guested on Simon & Garfunkel song ‘The Boxer’

Set list:
Kodachome
Gone at last
Dazzling blue
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Mother & child
Hearts & bones
Mystery train/wheel
Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard
Slip Sliding Away
Obvious child
Hello my baby
Unomathemba
Homeless
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes
I Know What I Know
Boy in the bubble
Crazy Love vol II
Gumboots
African Sunset
Under African skies
Graceland
You Can Call Me Al
Sound of Silence
The Boxer (with Martin Hayes)
Late In The Evening
Still crazy After All These Years

Night two of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s stop over at the RDS on the Wrecking Ball Tour brought many more classics to Irish shores, including the fantastic ‘Atlantic City’ and ‘The Promise’ as well as a sign request of ‘Jackson Cage’.

Setlist:
1. This Hard Land (acoustic)
2. No Surrender
3. Two Hearts
4. The Ties the Bind
5. We Take Care of Our Own
6. Badlands
7. Something In The Night
8. Adam Raised a Cain
9. Wrecking Ball
10. Death to My Hometown
11. My City of Ruins
12. Spirit In The Night
13. Jackson Cage
14. She’s The One
15. Jack of All Trades
16. Atlantic City
17. Because The Night
18. Darlington County
19. Easy Money
20. Waitin’ On a Sunny Day
21. The Promise (solo piano)
22. The River
23. Backstreets
24. Land of Hope & Dreams

25. Born in the USA
26. Born To Run
27. Glory Days
28. Seven Nights To Rock
29. Dancing In The Dark
30. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
31. Rocky Ground
32. American Land

Rhymin Simon!

I’m not the biggest Paul Simon fan in the world. By that, I don’t mean that I don’t really like him, but that I am not familiar with all his music, and still have a lot of his back catalogue to explore. But when he announced a gig in Vicar Street ahead of his gig in Cork, I knew it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see him in such an intimate venue. Thanks to a mate managing to get tickets, and another offering to watch O J while I was at the gig and then let us stay with them, I saw one of the most amazing gigs ever on Monday night.

The Vicar Street staff were very helpful, since two of us are blind and one was visually impaired, so not a decent eye between us 😀
They brought us down a corridor and we had no idea where we were going since it was away from the direction of the crowd. The man told us that it would be easier to get out at the end this way, but in fact we ended up getting seats at the wheelchair section, right in the front rows! I was two steps away from the stage. Although I didn’t have a proper seat and it wasn’t very comfortable, the sound was fantastic and in my opinion I had the best seat in the place! We were so close that even the lights hurt my eyes they were so bright. That’s saying something, because my light perception is rubbish!

I really didn’t know what to expect from Paul Simon’s performance. I had only heard the new album ‘so beautiful or so what’ once the day before, and thought since he was touring it, I wouldn’t be too familiar with the new songs. He played a great combination of hits as well as new material, which blended in perfectly, with a few cover versions too. For a man of almost seventy years old, he is acceptional. His voice is perfect and he sounds so young. He doesn’t talk much but was polite and gracious, and seemed happy to be playing in what he called “a club.” It all just seems so effortless. Performers like him could teach many of today’s generation of bands a thing or two, because it seems nowadays, you are only respected and cool enough if you spend the majority of your performance shouting all the curses you can think of. God, I’m starting to sound like my dad, but you know he’s right a lot of the time, but I’ll never tell him that of course!
Anyway… back to the gig…

Simon’s band of eight musicians are also amazing. I’d love to have seen the stage, because there must have been a large amount of instruments up there. The audience were fantastic, interacting when appropriate and being completely silent at other times. The band even played a couple of songs suggested by the audience. They might have already been on the set list but it was still nice to hear an audience member politely ask, and the band play it straight away.

I left the gig feeling that I was incredibly lucky to have been there, to have seen a musician who has been playing music for so long, and still clearly enjoying his job. During the gig I couldn’t help thinking of Clarence Clemence, who unfortunately and tragically passed away last Saturday. He had a similarly long career, and watching him perform twice was a unique experience. His death was a reminder that musicians of this quality aren’t going to be around forever. Often gig tickets are rediculously expensive and difficult to afford, but if you have the opportunity, seeing a performance from somebody with such “legendary” status (for want of a better word), is definitely worth the extra pounds.

Setlist:
1. The Boy in the Bubble
2. Dazzling Blue
3. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
4. So Beautiful or So What
5. Vietnam
6. Mother and Child Reunion
7. That Was Your Mother
8. Hearts and Bones
9. Mystery Train
10. Wheels
11. Slip Slidin’ Away
12. Rewrite
13. Peace Like a River
14. The Obvious Child
15. The Only Living Boy in New York
16. The Afterlife
17. Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
18. Gumboots
Encore:
19. The Sound of Silence
20. Kodachrome
21. Gone at Last
22. Here Comes the Sun
Encore 2:
23. Crazy Love, Vol. II
24. Late in the Evening
25. Still Crazy After All These Years

The wheels on the bus…

O.J and I have been on a bus every day for the last week. He’s in great form and really enjoying the variety of work and change of scenery each day.

Last thursday morning we went to work in Letterkenny
The next morning I finished the second week of disability awareness training with possibly one of the nicest groups of kids I have ever met. There were only sixteen in the class, and the schools only had two rooms. Their teacher was friendly and enthusiastic, and it was clear that they all got along well and get a great education there.
After that we got the bus to Dublin to visit
Stuart
and his partner. We had a great weekend as usual. A couple of friends came to visit, we watched some Father Ted and did the radio show as usual. We went to the pub for food after it and met another of Stuart’s friends who I chat to on twitter but haven’t seen in eight years.
The good thing about visiting this part of Dublin often is that it is becoming familiar to O.J. He relishes in the fact that he can find the right house on the way home from the shop or the pub.

The two dogs get on very well but had a bit of an incident on Saturday. We let them play outside because the weather was lovely. They weren’t really chasing each other as much as usual so we thought a toy would encourage them to play. They both ran and tried to grab it at the same time, and O.J got his ear nippled on in the process. He whined a bit and ran over to me. He was fine though, no harm done. The dynamic completely changed after that, and the dogs avoided each other for the rest of the day. O.J did try and get his own back by eating some of Q’s food. By the next morning they were friends again.

I worked in the office on Monday, finishing off preparations for a presentation I had to make at a conference. On tuesday afternoon my PA and I got the bus to Dublin again. We stayed in
Isaac’s Hotel
which is opposite the depot and very easy to find. Its very basic but there is grass close by which is good when you’ve got a guide dog who refuses to go on concrete. The staff were friendly and loved O.J.

We attended the shared learning conference for CILs yesterday morning. I had to talk about a fundraising project we’ve done in work, which I’m not directly involved in but the person who is couldn’t do it. I was very nervous and it didn’t help that I was last to present. Everybody was very friendly and I was worrying about nothing. The presentation couldn’t have gone better.
O.J was happy to meet Isaac, the first Irish guide dog trained for a person who also uses a wheelchair. He’s one very big dog!

We had a couple of hours to kill before the bus home, so I met Keri for a coffee. O.J didnt exactly know where to go to find the bus, but he knew we were looking for one and tried to bring me on every bus he could find.

Back in work today, and we’re both a bit tired. I think we’ll both be glad to have a break from buses for the weekend.

My trip to Dublin

Its been a while, but I’m finally back on the computer to post about my weekend in Dublin, which was great fun!

We went down on Thursday to stay with Jen’s friends. They are really cool, and one of them owns a dog. What’s even cooler is he is a guide dog like me and we get on really well.

The humans went for dinner in a lovely place called
Mona Lisa
We had to get the bus to town first and I didn’t know where I was going, but I followed like a good dog and did what I was told. After dinner we went to the Olympia to see the Divine Comedy. I went to see them with Jen
in July
and the crazy man on stage, (I think he’s called Neil Hannon) was just as funny as before. There were more people watching and they made more noise, and people kept walking past and I had to keep getting up. Sooo annoying!! Tracy who worked in the theatre was very helpful and couldn’t have been nicer. The manager wasn’t happy that us dogs were lying at the fire exit, but there was nowhere else for us to go, and we stayed quietly of course.

On friday Jen and her friend (who uses that white stick thing) went for a walk and had lunch. I ran in front of him on the way home and found the right house, which made Jen very happy. I slept for most of the afternoon because Jen was helping to make a documentary. She was on the computer editing for like 4 hours! I have no idea what that is, but I think she likes doing it.

Saturday was very relaxing and we didn’t go out because the humans were doing a radio show. It sounded like fun and they were talking to lots of people, even though I only saw one new person come into the studio. They played their
documentary
about the divine comedy on the show, and people connected to the band were very impressed. Jen edited the
podcast
of the show afterwards. Its all a bit mad. You should listen!

I loved playing with my guide dog friend, running around and pretending to fight over toys. We ran up and down the stairs, and sometimes Jen put my lead on to stop me being hiper. He always ran in front of me and barked at me to tease me. He barks a lot! I kept sniffing the bin in the kitchen because its one of those ones without a lid, and of course its very tempting for a lab type dog like me. I got told off each time I did it but I kept forgetting and still went back. The food bowl was kept right beside the bin, so sometimes i’d try to pretend I was getting a drink of water when they caught me.

I didn’t want to leave Dublin but I am very excited about some things I will be doing with Jen. She says we will be going to the theatre, visiting schools and going on a plane, all before Christmas. Then after that people will start building our new house. I love the house I live in now because its nice and warm with lots of space and Dougal to play with. I saw the house we will be living in and it doesn’t look too appealing at the minute. Just walls and bricks and rough ground everywhere. There’s no bed or food bowl or anything. Will it be a lot nicer when we move there? I hope so, or I’m not moving!