Dining and dog grooming

The RNIB in Derry work closely with staff at the Northwest regional college learning support service, to ensure that courses and services are accessible for blind and visually impaired people who decide to study there. Yesterday evening they held an awareness event for the staff and students of the cookery department. Dining in the dark is an opportunity for sighted people to eat a meal blindfolded, to get an idea of what its like having a visual impairment.

Yesterday’s event was very well organised. Before we were seated, I worked with an RNIB employee to teach the students who would be waitressing sighted guide. When everyone was blindfolded, the students led them to their tables in the restaurant. Each table had around eight staff members, as well as a person with a visual impairment. There was a braille menu on each table. . The food was beautiful and the students did a great job at explaining where things were and helping people if they needed it. After the meal, blindfolds were removed, and we had a short discussion pannel to hear what everyone thought of the experience. Myself and three other people who are visually impaired answered questions.

I talked to someone recently who said they didn’t think disability simulation was a good idea, since it isn’t a true representation of what its like to have that disability. I can see where they are coming from, but surely doing it in a fun event like this can’t do any harm. If it makes people stop and think for a while, and makes them more aware of issues that blind people might encounter then it has achieved something. It’s something I’d like to do again, maybe as a fundraiser or just with family or friends for fun. I know
Gavin’s family
from the US ran a very successful ‘night without sight’ fundraising event recently.
During dinner people said that they became more aware of background noise when they were talking to each other. They took their time eating and took much smaller spoonfuls, sometimes empty spoonfuls! My two favorite points during dinner was when someone drank the wrong coffee by mistake, and when the waiter asked the man beside me if he was finished, and he replied, “I don’t know, am I?”

After I did the radio interview with Mark Patterson at radio Foyle last month, a dog groomer rang in to offer O.J a free groom. I brought him to
groomin marvelous
this afternoon and Michael did a great job. It was a very kind offer and I really appreciated it, and will take both dogs back there in the future.

I’ll have a series of guest posts on the blog next week for the first time. They are very interesting so check them out.



I haven’t posted here in a while, and the blog died for a couple of days for no logical reason, so appologies to anyone who missed it! Thanks to the people who wondered if we were Okay and where we’d disappeared to.

More tragic and important than my blog dying, was the death of Ireland’s most popular radio broadcaster Gerry Ryan yesterday. I still can’t really believe it. Gerry presented a talk show from 9-12 every weekday morning on RTE 2fm for 22 years, and he will be a great loss to our country. I didn’t listen to him much, but when you did, it was clear that he was tallented, intelligent, humourous and knew how to connect with his audience. He could move from a serious topic to a rediculous one in seconds, and he wasn’t afraid to be contravertial and give his opinion. Like him or hate him, there’s a lot to be said for an honest broadcaster. Listening to the tributes on radio in the last 24 hours, the texts and calls from listeners, and the feature on last night’s late late show was heartbreaking. He often spoke about his family, in particular his five children who he adored, so I’m sure its very difficult for them.
I was interviewed on a local radio station last week (not my finest moment on radio) and one of the girls in work joked yesterday that the manager would have me on with Gerry Ryan next. Unfortunately I was never lucky enough to meet him, but apparently he was very generous and helpful to young broadcasters. I would have loved to have gotten some advice from someone as good at their job as he was.
RIP Gerry.

O’J has been busy recently, going to work, radio stations, a fundraising concert for the station I work in, and a book launch in the local primary school. I bought him a furminator, which if you haven’t used one before is the best grooming tool for a dog like O.J. Its a comb that removes all the dead hair under the top coat, hair that you couldn’t remove as quickly with an ordinary comb. I like it almost as much as the brand new Josh Ritter album! Its brilliant!

My mum is running another second-hand shop in our town, starting in a couple of weeks. She had hoped to start it during shades week, but better late than never. She’s running it for three or four weeks depending on how well it goes, and the money raised will be split between four charities, which all mean something to us and our family: Irish guide dogs, the MS society, a local Altzheimer’s unit and suicide aware.I’ll let everyone know how well it does.

lots going on

Hey I got the computer again! I have lots to talk about too, and as usual these humans are confusing me so much, so here goes!

Last week Jen only had to work one day so we didn’t have to get the bus much. I got to go for dinner with all the family and there was cake and singing afterwards. I didn’t have a clue what that was all about and then I saw Jen taking stuff out of paper and people reading stuff from bits of cardboard, and I heard the dreaded word “birthday” and then I realised I should have remembered this. Ooops! Well this all happened the day before her birthday and then she went away to London without me, so she didn’t deserve a present anyway.

I had a great time with Jen’s dad when she was away. I went to the beach and lay beside the warm fire and I didn’t have to get my harness on once. He always drops more crumbs on the floor so I love it when I’m with him on my own. haha. Jen said I would have been ok at the lion king, but I would have hated the escalators and so many people in London. They would have had to get taxis or buses and the hotel room was too small for me. I think I saved them some money by not going! She said she wishes she had me in Harrods with her though. Her mum used to work there so they went to have a look, and I think when Jen saw pet kingdom she nearly died. Thankfully she didn’t. She said it was nearly as entertaining as the lion king!

People keep asking Jen if she is bored because she isn’t working as much as she was before, but I don’t think she has been this busy in ages. Just last week she was talking about going to a conference in Lithuania but then the people who told her she had a place told her she hadn’t. I think they just said that when they found out that I don’t have a passport yet and couldn’t go. There’s talk of her going to Dublin next week for some awards thing she won tickets for, but its too loud for me. Could I not stay with somebody who will pet me and play with me in Dublin when she’s there? I hear I might be going to Belfast on Friday so I’m excited. I love it there. Jen rang a couple of people today to see how much it would be to have me “professionally groomed.” Now what in the name of dog does that involve? It better not hurt. It better be nicer than the vet when he does that horrible thing that hurts. Ouch!

Before I go off to bed, I have to congratulate
on his nomination for the Irish blog awards. Well done for getting this far, and well deserved.

Woof woof OJ x

looking good!

When you train with a guide dog, you soon learn the importance of grooming. No matter what breed you are matched with, grooming is necessary to keep your dog healthy and clean. As these dogs have access to all public places, their appearance is very important. As well as combing and brushing, grooming can include bathing, checking for any signs of health problems, cleaning ears and teeth, and even clipping toenails. It is also a good bonding process between you and your dog. Unfortunately all pet dogs don’t get groomed as regularly as guide dogs, even though they would benefit from it just as much.

Everybody approaches grooming differently. I spoke to a guide dog owner who happened to mention that they recently spent almost two hours drying their lab with a hair dryer after bathing it with shampoo, combing it and then putting on conditioner. Now that’s dedication!
I could lie and tell you that I groom O J every day. It’s more like every second or third, but I always do it if we’re going somewhere special or to someone’s house. No matter when I do it, lots of hair comes off! I don’t clean his teeth. The chews he eats take care of that, and the vet checks them often. I have never needed to clip his toenails yet, but think I would let Dougal’s groomer do it, rather than risk nearly cutting a blood vessel, which is apparently very very painful.
I try to wash him as little as possible, as too much washing can remove the natural oils from their coat. I’m not really into all this doggy perfume and stuff, but all the brushing ensures that he doesn’t smell. People constantly tell me how shiny his coat is (not sure if this is a black lab thing, or just my luck.) O J loves being groomed, but other
Don’t make it so easy!

I have thought of getting O J groomed professionally sometime, to see how he would react and to see if he can get any shinier! Maybe that could be his Christmas present. All groomers charge different rates, and some apparently reduce their rate for assistance dogs. I know a guide dog owner who’s local groomer will collect his dog at work, groom it free of charge and return it to him when its done. Talk about good service!

So what does your dog’s grooming routine involve?