OJ, did you not realise we were having aftercare?

A trainer from the guide dog centre visits once a year to see how O.J and I are working, to teach us a new route if we need help, or to deal with any problems that might be happening. Yesterday my sister and nephew helped me to wash O.J as his coat hasn’t been as nice as usual since his operation. The weather was lovely so he dried quickly. I gave the house a good proper clean to make myself look like a responsible guide dog owner. I’ve been a bit slack since the folks have gone, so it was a good excuse to get it done.

Natalie came this morning after ten. She got a bit lost and I decided I’d meet her in town to make things a bit easier. We’ve done the same route on the previous aftercare visits so it was good to have a bit of a change and to see O.J working in the town in a busier environment. We met at supervalue and walked to my grannys at the other end of the town. O.J decided two minutes after we left that he needed to go to the toilet. I tried to run to grass at my granny’s house, with him walking sideways down the street. He very rarely has to go while he’s working, unless he didn’t go in the morning, but he did this morning so it didn’t make sense. Of course I didn’t come prepared but met my aunt who went and got me a bag to clean up after him. Natalie said he probably just picked up on the fact that I was nervous, and thankfully she saw the funny side of it.

We went to a cafe for a much needed coffee, and O.J lay quietly and slept. I always enjoy talking to the trainers, as their experiences and the work they do is so interesting. Natalie is from New Jersey and worked with the seeing eye there for five years before coming to Ireland. It is interesting to hear how the two organisations are so different, and her perspectives on both. When we left the cafe to walk back to the supermarket it was beginning to rain. I changed part of the route slightly and the rain made O.J’s sensitive sniffy nose go into overdrive. He was very distracted and sniffed at everything. I wasn’t impressed! Natalie reminded me that this is all quite normal, and if sniffing is the extent of my problems then I have absolutely nothing to worry about. She was happy with how quickly O.J responds to me, and how focused he can be when he needs to be. It was funny because he has behaved perfectly during his last two aftercare visits, and I told her he probably would after she left. Sure enough, I decided to walk home, and he didn’t stop to sniff once. We met people with dogs and he ignored them all. Bloody typical!