Tag Archives: Blog

Friendship, Relationship, Love

Gary and Sassy cuddling together on a bench. photo taken from behind with a lighthouse off to the left.

I never thought i’d end up with Gary, in fact, neither of us ever thought it would happen…

We met at University when he joined in 2012, both my Uni housemates met him on nights out during Freshers week, at separate times, and before long he joined our friendship group.

He and I clicked straight away, and it was nice to have another male within the group. Gary wasn’t like a lot of the other Freshers, he wasn’t the biggest party goer and was mature for his age, which I think is why our friendship blossomed and the group felt so relaxed around him.

We hung out, texted, stayed at each others houses and gave each other relationship/ dating advice, it was plutonic. Our friends all joked and said if we ever lived together, we would get together, but we laughed it off and ignored their comments; we didn’t see each other like that.

And this is where the story gets interesting…

It was my housemates’ last year at Uni (it would have been mine too, but that is for another story), our lease was due to run out and I was frantically searching for a place to live as a singular student that I could afford, with no luck whatsoever, Gary and 3 of my other Uni friends had all agreed I could stay at theirs until I found a place, it’ll only be about a week I said, so i’ll be out of your hair in no time!

Gary and Sassy both laughing. Sassy with her hands covering her face and Gary stood behind her grinning

3 months went by before I finally found somewhere ! Needless to say Gary and I grew closer, spending more time together: hanging out, eating together, and because of my sight loss he even helped me go shopping. Being blind and moving to a new area takes a lot of mobility and energy to get where you want to be. I was most grateful for his support, friendship and sense of humour at that time!

It literally came from nowhere, one night we were playing drinking games, and when the others had left the room he randomly just kissed me.
I was in total shock, but for the strangest reason it just felt right…

Gary and I moved in together as a couple after his student lease ran out, and we’ve been attached at the hip ever since.

He’s been my rock, confidant and my best friend for as long as i’ve known him, it’s just intensified since being together. He has been at my side through the toughest 5 years of my life, 3 of which has been as my partner.

We are a very happy family unit, spending the majority of our weekends rambling and chasing our gorgeous pup Ida!
Currently we are saving for our first house and plan to move where his family live, although, we have made a happy life four ourselves here.
I can’t wait to start the next chapter of our relationship and eventually be his Wife! ❤

sassy touching noes with Ida the guide dog

Disability Q&A #16 Glen Sheader

Hello and welcome back to my #DisabilityQ&A Campaign 🙂
today’s interview is brought to you by a very interesting man called Glenn, we met on Twitter and he was keen to be part of my series. I hope you will agree that his interview is interesting, eye-opening and shows that if you have the right support, and determination, you can do anything!

Tell me about yourself:

Hi, I’m Glen Sheader, 33, I live in Blackburn, but from Bolton. I am a assistive Technology Coordinator. My hobbies Include: Walking, trying new food, reading, social media, technology, TV, football, and generally keeping fit.

Now we know the basics, can we learn a bit more about you?

What is the medical reason you have a disability?
I am registered blind/severely sight impaired due to Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy.
Have you had your Visual impairment / disability from birth?
No, I developed my eye condition early in 2006 when I was 22.

Which terminology do you prefer: Partially Sighted, Visually Impaired,

Sight Impaired, Severely Sight Impaired or Blind?
I usually refer to myself as being Visually Impaired.

Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither?
I use a long white cane.

If you could extinguish your disability, would you?
This is a difficult question, you would think that the obvious answer would be a straight forward Yes, however I would say that I would be a 70% Yes. When I lost my vision, it went in around 5 weeks, and took almost 2 years to accept, and I fear that if it came back instantly, it would also take some time to accept. There would be some hesitation, but my answer would be a yes. I know that I still miss having sight, there are many occasions when I day-dream about what life would be like being fully sighted again.

For those who do not know much about your VI what can you see?
My vision is severely blurred, if you imagine a thick fogg right up to your nose and trying to see through it, that is what it is like. So most of the time, I can see what is in front of me up to a certain point, but I cannot see any details. So, I can see a person, but I have no idea what they look like.

How has your disability effected you?

*Socially – to be very honest, when I developed my visual impairment at the age of 22, I slowly isolated myself. From my perception, there was an obvious social awkwardness. My people did not know how to react or what to say when around me, plus I did not know how, or did not want to explain my condition. Now later in life, I have a small circle of friends, but it is hard socialising when you cannot recognise people. If someone walks past me and says “hi”, most of the time I am not sure who that person is. So 11 years on from developing my eye condition, I would say it is still a challenge for me socially.

*physically – I have no problems physically. I often think that I am physically fitter than most, as I do not have the luxury of jumping in the car. I am on foot or public transport everywhere I go.

*Mentally – I am fine mentally, but I do have down moments. There are rare occasions when I find myself feeling low due to the stresses and strains of living a life with a disability. Those first couple of years of trying to accept my disability were extremely difficult. I shut myself away, I had problems sleeping, I drank too much and I struggled to see a future as a blind person. It was a huge help to study as a Counsellor. I did this for personal and professional reasons. I gained an excellent set of skills and a qualification, and I benefited massively from understanding more about ways of thinking, emotions and feeling, and most importantly understanding loss and the grieving process.

Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?

I have strong feelings about this…I feel for some strange reason this happened to me as a harsh wake up call. Before my eye condition my life was not going anywhere. I lived at home with my mum, I drank every night, I liked to smoke pot, I was not very outgoing or adventurous, and I had no good qualifications or a career path. As difficult as those years were trying to get my head around what had happened to me, it was a period of time when I became broken and slowly I started a rebuilding process. Between then and now, I have developed as a person, I have carved out a worthwhile career path for myself, I have met lots of fantastic people, and I feel privileged to have volunteered and worked for some great organisations giving me the experience and opportunity to help and support many people in varying ways. For example, working one-to-one with a person as a Counsellor, or delivering a workshop to a group on Assistive Technology.

Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your

disability?

“Can you not just wear glasses”
Or not necessarily a question “You don’t look blind”
My condition is related to my optic nerves, I have no problem with my eyes, so glasses will not make any difference. Also, most visually impaired people do not look blind. I think both of the above are due to a lack of awareness of sight loss in general. Surprisingly many people think that you are either fully sighted or you see total darkness, with nothing in-between. Similarly, people do not understand what a white cane is, or they expect everyone with a sight problem wears dark glasses, taps a white cane around and uses a guide dog, or as many call them a “blind dog”.

What are the positives of having a disability?

I think that my experience of my disability means that I have a different outlook on life. I am a very positive person, I feel that the worst is behind me in my life, and I try my best to enjoy most days and I look forward with hope. I am confident that overcoming the hurdles that I have, have given me the strength and skills to deal with hardship in life.

What are the negatives of having a disability?

Of course I acknowledge that life as a visually impaired person has challenges and difficulties. Because I have had sight, there are times when I know that something would have been much easier to tackle as a fully sighted person. Similarly, it’s tough when you find yourself in a situation where you are treated differently, or even abused for having a visual impairment. These can be harsh reminders of the fact that I have a disability and the happy bubble of life bursts leaving you a little vulnerable.

What would you say is a difficulty for you being VI / disabled?

I think the point that I mentioned above; the issues of socialising are difficult. It is hard to sometimes communicate or more importantly maintain communication are the difficulties. If I could explain to the world that I am very unlikely to recognise them when passing, and a polite “hi it’s such a body” would be great. Many neighbours, associates, friends and even family, will pass me and not acknowledge that it is them, therefore socially communication breaks down. I am sure there are people that no longer talk to me, as they feel that I have ignored them in the past. Where as, the truth is that I have walked by in my bubble and been oblivious to people around me.

As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily /

weekly basis that frustrate you?
*In your home – Not knowing where something is if it has been miss placed. Since being visually impaired, I have been very organised, as I need to know where things are, so that I can find them easily.

*outside your home – I really hate it when people obstruct the pavements, the main culprits being drivers parking their cars inappropriately. It is very frustrating when walking along and having to go into the road around a vehicle to get past. I think some drivers forget that they need to leave sufficient space for a person to get past on the pavement; and this also includes room for a pram, wheelchair, etc.

Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass

on to another VI/ disabled person?

One of the biggest tips that I can give to another person with a visual impairment is to become confident with today’s technology. There are accessibility features on most popular devices today, that allow a person with little or no sight to get the most out of using them. There is so much that you can do with a smart phone, to help you be independent. The list is pretty much endless, but here are some benefits that might not be obvious: access print by using the camera, using it to help navigate, an accessible communication device in your pocket, look up bus/train times while out and about, audio description on videos/programs/films, get a picture described, plus all of the main-stream Applications are accessible. It can easily bring a person up-to-speed with their peers.

Do you use Assisstive technology in your daily living?

*Screen reader I am able to use many pieces of Assistive Technology due to my work, but personally I use JAWS on my work laptop and Voice Over on Apple products.

My main device that I use daily is my iPhone. It is such an important piece of technology for me. I use it to communicate by calling, texting or emailing, I use various social media to keep in touch and up-to-date with the world, I read the news, I watch TV/videos/films, I read books. Also, it is my magnifier, my note tacker, my calendar, my diary, my scanner reader, my audio book player, my radio, my GPS navigator, and much more. These are all things that historically I would have to buy as separate items costing a huge amount of money and would certainly not fit in my pocket.

What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going
through a deterioration in vision / or mobility?

I would definitely say speak to someone. Both professionals and others with similar issues. When the time is ready get practical help, whether that’s mobility training, or other things, get emotional support, maybe Counselling, self-help advice, peer support groups, and get out there and try your best to keep going. Try not let life stand still for too long, as roots can set in and it is then very hard to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone.

Any advice you’d like to give to a person with sight / no disabilities?

variety is the spice of life as they say. If you feel that someone maybe different to you, don’t make that negative judgement. Be open minded and why not accept some variety into your life. What’s the worst that could happen? You might meet someone new interesting, you might, if anything, learn something, and you just may be inspired.
Also, don’t park inappropriately on pavements.

Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your

family deal with your situation?

*RNIB Schools? I lost my job working for a Ford Dealership in the Motor Trade, so from here I attended an RNIB college in Loughborough.

I had mobility training from a Rehab Officer.
I had some Counselling.
I attended some social groups at my local blind society.
I did lots of volunteering to fill the gap in my skills and experience to help me seek employment.

Where can people find you out in the world?

FaceBook
https://www.facebook.com/glensheader

Twitter
@glensheader
@viparent_glen

Email
glensheader@gmail.com

❤❤ Thank you so much Glen for taking the time to be interviewed! Your journey with sight loss has definitely been an interesting one to read, I love how you’ve turned your negatives into positive’s, especially with becoming a counsellor, learning to understand yourself and help others is a great thing!

If you, or anyone you know, would like to take part in my Campaign, do not hesitate to contact me on the following:
Email:SassysWorld6@gmail.com
Twitter
Facebook

http://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/category/disability-qa-campaign/

Why not take a look at the rest of the interviews so far? #DisabilityQ&A Series http://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/category/disability-qa-campaign/




Disability Q&A #15 Sean Randall

Welcome back to my #DisabilityQ&A series.
Today’s interview is brought to you by Sean, we met on Twitter and I asked if he would like to participate, thankfully he said yes 🙂 his no nonsense approach with his eloquent writing echoes everything I’ve come across in the blind community.

Enjoy!

Tell me about yourself:

My name is Sean Randall. I’m 28 years old and I live in a village just outside of Worcester in England with my fiancée, 5-year-old daughter and Guide Dog.

What is your job?

I am an accessibility and technology specialist at a school for the blind and visually impaired. My workday is split pretty fifty-fifty between working with a student and his or her technology needs, and providing accessibility support for the college as a whole.

When teaching the students we can be working on practicing typing skills to writing computer software or anything in between. Students bring me any technology they want to learn to use better, and together we explore all the options and find techniques for improving their access. It’s a great feeling when a student who has never used a computer before can walk into the classroom and reply to her emails before moving on to her next task without any input from me at all. We’re just at the start of a new school year, so there’ll be a new intake of students to get to grips with, and I was pleased to learn that over the summer, all our former students got their places at university or ended up somewhere they were happy (one of my best pupils is now working with the BBC!)

The other half of my job is not as immediately gratifying but it *is* important. I manage our school network and technology from an accessibility point of view. This can involve anything from making sure new software the college wants to obtain is accessible to all staff or students, right down to deciding on specific manufacturers and suppliers for specialist devices (such as Braille Displays. We also run a lot of outreach events, where teachers and support staff from all over the country come to see what we do, and I answer lots of questions and help find paths through the education system for young people throughout the UK during these sessions. I get questions from young blind people themselves, their teachers, parents and carers, and even sometimes their friends. It’s a hugely rewarding job I do, with such a variety of tasks on any given day that I’m never at a loss for something to do.

What hobbies do you have?

I’m a huge reader. If I ever have 5 minutes to myself you’ll find me sneaking a few pages of my current novel: I enjoy science fiction and fantasy books in the main, although a good contemporary fiction novel or legal thriller sometimes hooks me. I follow technological, political, disability and accessibility news very closely, mainly because it’s the sort to impact me and my family and job the most, so I don’t read much non-fiction for pleasure because I like my books to whisk me off to somewhere pleasant for a while!

I also enjoy horror films, long walks, country music, goalball and good food and spend some of my time volunteering to help people with their technology over the phone or in their own homes if they need it. I dabble in software development too, my fiancée is quite partial to having a pet programmer who can whip up little computer programs to do her bidding.

What is the medical reason you have a disability?

I was born over 12 weeks prematurely, so my eyes weren’t fully developed. I needed Oxygen to survive, and that further damaged my retinas. I weighed less than a bag of sugar at birth. People often ask me if it would’ve been sensible to try without the Oxygen to keep my eyes intact, and I always tell them the same thing. Without Oxygen I would die. With damaged retinas, I simply need to be a little more creative to live the kind of life I want!

Have you had your Visual impairment / disability from birth?

Yes.

Which terminology do you prefer: Partially Sighted, Visually Impaired,Sight Impaired, Severely Sight Impaired or Blind?

Blind. Even though I don’t live in pitch blackness – I can see light sources in one eye – I don’t have any “useful vision”. Blind is a simple word with a simple meaning and it makes sense for me to use it to describe myself, and it has the added benefit of being true!

Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither?

A guide dog. I took the step of getting him when my daughter was born, because I knew we’d need to go places. True enough, the walks to nursery, the bakers, butchers and shops around town were made much more efficient and pleasant with him and he is a faithful companion and family pet when he’s not working. I was very against getting a guide dog until I had a pressing need, and the village where we live at present is probably a little too small for him really (I find myself walking him for the sake of it more than work). SO even though he’s loved and a huge part of the family I would have to think carefully about the need before replacing him when he retires in a few years.

If you could extinguish your disability, would you? – If not, please explain why.

If you’d asked me this question 5 years ago I would’ve been emphatic and firm and said no. I was happy in my skin with a quality of life I was content with doing what I wanted to be doing. All this changed when my daughter came along. We have a great time, but there are things having vision would improve: getting around is probably the biggest one, the freedom to hop into the car and drive off somewhere is strong. Also just being able to know where we are by looking, and to see what my daughter is up to without needing to keep an ear or a hand on her would be a big incentive for me to gain any vision I could.

For those who do not know much about your VI what can you see?

Just light. It’s enough to tell where the sun or brighter sources (windows, larger lamps etc) are coming from. I do get burned-out quickly, which is hard to explain, but for instance if I was standing in a room and you turned the light on and off a few times quickly my eye would stop processing things and I wouldn’t be able to determine if it was on or not. Sometimes I get random flashes of light that aren’t there, which can be confusing, usually when I’m very tired or unwell.

How has your disability effected you?

My disability has shaped my life, in many ways. Socially it’s made me very keen to help others, and I enjoy a good level of engagement within the blind community (I’m active on social media, mailing lists and so on). I don’t have many sighted friends, but those I do have I get on well with.

Physically, I don’t know what impact it’s had. I’m not particularly coordinated or skilled with my hands and fingers, perhaps that would’ve been different if I wasn’t disabled. I am quite fit – I can run a fair distance and spent the first few years of my daughter’s life carrying her around on my back.

Mentally, being blind has made me realise that if I want something, asking for it has to be done the right way. So many of my friends have asked for “help”, without being specific enough that the person in question knows what to do. For example when our daughter started school, it wouldn’t have worked if we’d just said “we want letters in an accessible format: how on earth is the school receptionist supposed to know what we find accessible? The spectrum of visual impairment goes from needing print a little larger than average to deaf-blind people reading Braille and nothing else, and blind people themselves can often do things in a number of ways. “Can you email us letters?” is what we said, and we get them that way and everyone is happy. I think the core lesson here is that you as a person with a disability need to have the awareness of what’s out there to help you and the ability or advocacy to communicate that where appropriate. This is where the sociability comes in, being part of the blind community on social media or otherwise gives you a great resource when you’ve got questions.

Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?

Certainly it’s made me do what I do. I can’t imagine I’d work in the disability sector if I didn’t have a disability myself. I’d like to think it’s made me a more tolerant, caring and understanding person. It’s hard to separate me from my disability because it’s always been a part of me; if I’d lived nearly 30 years with working eyes then maybe I could answer this one properly!

*Please give a positive example of how this has done so… Example: Not judging people by their appearance

Although it mightn’t appear positive to begin with, I think the one thing my disability has done for me is to not take any excuses. There’s no reason why someone with my eye condition and nothing else wrong with them couldn’t learn to do the things I do. Not the things I’ve chosen to learn (like computer programming), but the day-to-day tasks of maintaining a house, paying the bills, helping with homework and going to and from my job are all things that society expects of me, that I expect of myself and that I would expect of anyone in a similar situation.

Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your disability? If so, please explain below.

I think the most widespread question is sort of an umbrella “how do you manage?” and of course that depends on what you’re doing at the time. The average sighted person tries to imagine themselves doing the task in question with their eyes shut (making a cup of tea, sending an email, changing a nappy, chopping vegetables) and of course to them it’s a scary and worrying prospect. They almost invariably decide they couldn’t do it, and so they assume I have some amazing secret that enables me to work on their level. I’m as guilty as anybody of this – I’ve met people with one arm or missing fingers, or who can’t hear or speak, and of course I find myself wondering how I’d cope in that situation.

There’s no easy answer, either. And that’s because we adapt in hundreds of little ways to thousands of different tasks whether we’re disabled or not. There’s no magic solution, and I think people leave perplexed because they’re expecting something to make up for my lack of vision when in reality, I simply do things differently sometimes because I’ve never had it.

What are the positives of having a disability?

Learning that things are rarely impossible. It’s probably the best time in history to be disabled because of the profusion of technology. I can work, bank, shop, play, study, interact and absorb online with, in nine cases out of ten, very moderate adaptations to the way anyone else might do it.

One of the best examples is books. I used to buy second-hand paperback books from charity shops because I had a huge beast of a scanner, which would scan one page at a time into the computer so I could read the book. I’d buy old tatty copies so I could chop them up and feed the pages into the system, and spend about a month correcting the scanned text to something readable. Seriously, weeks on a single book. Today? I just buy the Kindle edition. I cannot express the glee that it gives me to know that in less time than I could walk to the shop and pick up a print copy of the book I can be reading it curled up in my dressing gown, lounging in the sun, or heading off somewhere on the train. And the point here, of course, is that the same holds true for you if you are sighted. The difference is in how we absorb the material, not how we get it. And that’s the key problem historically and one where the gap is slowly but steadily narrowing.

What are the negatives of having a disability?

I have two big downsides to my disability. First, I can’t live as spontaneously as I’d like. If I wanted to go on holiday, drive to a random restaurant for a meal, go and see a film or treat my fiancée to a day out I have to plan more than most do. I need to look at audio-description in the cinema, menus at restaurants, travel assistance for trains or aircraft and guidance to or around unfamiliar areas. None of the things are impossible, but all of them are less practical. Perhaps not all of them are completely necessary (you can argue we can watch a movie without the audio-description) but why not use it if it’s there? I don’t see this ever going away completely. Things are improving, the sheer variety of apps on the market for your phone for accessibility is a staggering testament to this, but unless we end up living in a society where we have little robots to be our eyes I imagine there will always be situations where another person is put on the spot to render some small assistance.

The second negative to being disabled for me is the lack of belief and understanding from the general public. It’s by no means the majority, but I have come across people who tell me that my daughter “will be a help”. Really? DO people honestly believe that my fiancée and I live such dreary and doleful lives that we had to have a baby to cheer us up with the understanding that she’ll be a working pair of eyes when she’s older? Well, yes. Some people clearly believe that. And it’s utter nonsense, of course. She’ll do her fair share of chores as anyone else (washing dishes is a chore but we can’t stop eating and when she’s old enough to help out around the home she’ll do so). But that would happen whether we or she were blind or not, the two just don’t conflate at all. I know the great public can be stupid en-mass (remember Boaty Mcboatface?) but how they can’t perceive that we lived perfectly viable lives before her birth but must be bringing her up as a slave to our vision loss is a mystery to me. It’s not just about having a child, of course. I tell someone I’m late for work and I get “Oh, but it’s so good you’ve got a job!”. I ask a company to email me something and I’m told “isn’t it amazing that you can do email?” and on one memorable occasion I was told that “you’re a star” when I came back from a public toilet. What on Earth is that all about? So if I had to put it into a sentence I’d say that this downside to being disabled is the negativity that people project on me as a result of it. I feel very sorry for those who lose their vision later in life because as well as their own uncertainties and confusion about how things will work, they have this huge cultural bundle of negativity to deal with as well.

What would you say is a difficulty for you being VI / disabled?

Perhaps my biggest personal difficulty is having a written signature that isn’t clear. I wasn’t instructed in the use of a pen at an early age. I have a vague memory of a week or so’s practice to open a bank account in my early teens, but that never followed through and so I can rarely duplicate a written signature the second time around. Luckily it’s something with time, effort and practice I should be able to resolve!

As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily /weekly basis that frustrate you?

*In your home

I think my number one irritation at home is consistency. I use a variety of apps to read labels and scan bar codes of produce so I know what things are, and if they are perishable items (such as food) when they go out of date or how to cook them. I’ve found that there’s rarely a simple solution to knowing exactly where on the packaging the bar code or expiration date is. It’s brilliant that I can do so much of this stuff on my own, but frustrating when there’s no consistency of labelling between brands. I understand getting the information in Braille would be a huge cost and mean changes to the manufacturing process, but surely a directive that best before dates should be on one side or other of a product’s packaging isn’t too much to ask!

*outside your home

My biggest issue when out and about is again consistency and awareness. If the bus doesn’t stop in the same place as it did last time I got off, I may only be a few feet from a landmark I know about but that might as well be a mile. Perhaps this is an endemic issue of how mobility training for a blind person works, but it is very hard for me with no useful vision at all to have an overview of an area. I can learn a very specific route from point A to B, and along that route I can identify stable landmarks to assist me, but very rarely am I able to find points nearby any of those landmarks and from there know where I am. This again is something that is changing with technology and I must admit, on the rare occasions I get lost, the public are amazingly helpful. But it would be good if bus drivers were able to explain the difference between where the bus is and where it should be, if shop owners are careful not to obtrude their goods and car owners keep their vehicles on the roads not the pavements. It’s a lot of little things which can add up to an unsettling traveling experience and that which with a little forethought and curtesy would make life much easier not just for me I am sure, but for many blind people too.




Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass on to another VI/ disabled person?

I think my biggest tip would be to embrace whatever equipment or aids you need. Whether that’s clipping your socks together for a wash or getting an app on your phone to identify the colour of the pepper you’re chopping into your meal.

Do you use Assisstive technology in your daily living?

Screen reader:

Yes, on the computer, phone, tablet an TV.

Braille note :I use a Braille display when needing to make notes in meetings or to read back things when I’m in conversation.

Colour detector:

Occasionally, usually for food and drink (i.e. the colour of milk bottle tops etc.

Talking scales:

We have 2, my fiancée is an avid cook. I found the scales useful for measuring baby milk when we needed to do that.

Apps are a huge part of my life, because I use them for reading text, identifying colours and currency, working out what products are and how long they’ll last. I’ve probably spent over a hundred pounds on apps on top of the cost of the iPhone itself, but its seriously worth it. Less used apps are handy for working out if the lights are on, GPS, getting lifts in bigger cities, playing games etc.

What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going through a deterioration in vision / or mobility?

I think the best bit of advice is that there’s stuff out there to help and people who can help with it. Losing anything is bad, losing part of your sensorium must be a huge shock and adapting is never easy.

Any advice you’d like to give to a person with sight / no disabilities?

Don’t assume that because you can’t do something with your eyes closed that it’s impossible for someone else.

Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your

family deal with your situation?

No. I had support at school as a blind student, but remember, “my situation” was normal for me as an adult.

Where can people find you out in the world?

I’m on twitter @cachondo, write blog posts on my LinkedIN profile at http://UK.linkedin.com/in/AccessibleSean and review good books on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/Seanrandall

You can always email me on contact@SeanRandall.me or, if you like to talk and have a smartphone, send me a message on roger at https://rogertalk.com/cachondo

❤❤ Thank you so much Sean for taking the time to be interviewed! this is definitely an interview I’ll be reading and rereading. Your thoughts and values show that with a positive mental attitude and the right support we really can do anything We set our minds to. ❤❤

If you, or anyone you know, would like to take part in my Campaign, do not hesitate to contact me on the following:
Email:SassysWorld6@gmail.com
Twitter
Facebook

http://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/category/disability-qa-campaign/




#GuideDogDiaries Day 13

#GuideDogDiaries Day 13

Breakfast was still a little chaotic but I definitely think Ida is grasping the expectations we have for her.
This time she did stay in her bed while I was getting her breakfast ready but that was primarily because Gary was sitting there telling her to stay.
Ida clearly couldn’t contain her excitement because Gary shouted through to me that there was a puddle of drool forming on her bed!

She did speed through to the kitchen at the mention of her being summoned but thankfully she was quicker to settle. I gave her her breakfast and she scoffed it like there was no tomorrow!

I was really excited about today; this was going to be our first walk in our local area together!
Mikyla arrived and as expected Ida was a total whirlwind! She was ecstatic to see her friend again, However Mikyla deliberately didn’t show the same enthusiasm, she wanted Ida to settle and remain calm.
Mikyla explained that this was the process of her withdrawing herself from Ida, Ida needed to learn that Mikyla was no longer in charge, I was,. Because they have spent 3 months together training and being a companionship Ida was more likely to look to Mikyla for guidance and obedience. However when Ida was fully relaxed and content Mikyla did say a quick hello, reinforcing that she wanted Ida to be calm in a visitors presence, but also to make sure Ida was aware she had done nothing wrong.

We chatted about the events of the last few days, she seemed happy with th progress Ida and I had made so fa and happy that Ida was relaxed… Even if she was still jumping at the air-freshener! 😉

Our walk was short and sweet: we walked around the block only once.
We talked, stopped and repeated certain areas of the walk that Mikyla thought Ida needed more help reinforcing, for example indenting at the pavement. Not because Ida or I were doing anything wrong, but to ensure that Ida would indent enough so it was safe for both of us to cross.
Ida did fabulously by locating the up kerb; putting her 2 front paws on it and waiting for me to reach it, and giving the command forward before proceeding.

As this was our first walk together since we arrived home Ida was keen to say the least,: the tension on the harness was probably as strong as it had ever been but thankfully she did steady and slow herself down when I asked her to.




I was so impressed with Ida on the entire route, particularly when I got her to locate the bus stop, she did it slowly but precisely, and put her nose to the seat indicating that she had found an empty space for me to sit.

We repeated the approach to the bus stop again, and Ida executed it perfectly! I couldn’t stop grinning, and Mikyla and I both gave her lots of fuss for working so hard! 🙂
On the last stretch of our block route there is a zebra crossing, which Ida located. Even though I wasn’t planning on crossing Ida got a positive response from me for doing so; “
not today, good girl!”

This assures Ida that she did a fantastic job by locating the zebra crossing, however we were not taking that route today.
Training with any dog, especially a Guide Dog is all about positive reinforcement. Congratulating them on a job well done, and communicating this assertively so they will repeat such behaviour. 🙂

On the approach to our house I gave the signal to Ida to find it.

“”Where’s that gate on the left? Find it.”

She found our house beautifully and seemed rather impressed with herself for doing so,wagging her tail happily!
She got lots of fuss for working so hard! 🙂

Mikyla and i chatted through what we had just done and how pleased she was with our partnership, and Ida’s intuition for locating things such as the bus stop and zebra crossing.
Mikyla said she wanted to do the block a few more times, and in reverse too before she qualified us on the route, but assured me with our work ethic and ida’s enthusiasm it could be as early as Monday!

Mikyla wasn’t going to return until Monday, and as we were not qualified she did not want me to do the route, however she was more than encouraging for Gary and I to take Ida on a free run on the Sunday together.
This would give Ida a chance to let off steam, Gary and Ida to spend more time together and most importantly a chance for me to test Ida’s recall!

All in all a very positive day, I’m super excited about tomorrow: free run here we come! 🙂




#GuideDogDiaries Day 12

#GuideDogDiaries Day 12

Ida settled really well and seemed very relaxed and content when it came to bed time.
I think I was more worried about her settling and getting a good nights sleep more than she did.
As I live in a one bedroom flat I knew she wouldn’t be too restless because she could hear and smell us from her bed.

When Gary’s alarm went off in the morning she decided to come in and say good morning to us. Ida was very happy to see us both and intruded our space to say her hellos’ and ask for a fuss, it was very cute!

Breakfast was a bit of a dance. Ida decided to follow me everywhere I went; just encase I was making something for her!
When it came to actually getting her breakfast ready she was very enthusiastic.
I wanted her to lie in her bed as I got everything prepared, but the second I walked away she would jump out and follow me!
I had to rope Gary into getting her to stay as I pottered around.
He had no luck, she would lie down for a few seconds but as soon as he moved or stopped looking at her she tried to sneak past him to find me.
We both found it very funny, and couldn’t help but giggle a little, but we knew we couldn’t encourage her excitement, so we tried to be stern telling her to go lie down.

Eventually when I was organised and ready for her to approach, she bounded through to the kitchen, skidded all over the place and finally sat wagging her tail furiously.
The waiting process was probably less than 40 seconds but in this time Ida had formed a pool of drool, that literally sounded like a dripping tap!
Both Gary and I were very disgusted, and said as such to one another!
I got Gary to clear it up… there was no way I was touching her slimy slobber!

When Gary grabbed his jacket and headed for the door, Ida thought it was time for a walk because she stood by the front door, tail wagging. She seemed rather sad that he was leaving, but I made sure to distract her and we had lots of cuddles afterwards.

Because it was our first full day together at home, and due to safety and insurance reasons I was not allowed to leave the house with Ida, we spent the whole day indoors playing lots of games and having lots of cuddles.




Due to the weather being rubbish, I decided to groom her inside. She loves being groomed and took this opportunity to start rolling on the floor and pawing at me. Although very amusing I had to be stern and get her to up stand and stay focused while I groomed her.
She did try her luck a few times but I just kept repeating the obedience training.
She thoroughly enjoyed her grooming and found it very fascinating when I started cleaning up all the fur.
I soon noticed Ida wasn’t a fan of the hoover because she disappeared and ran into a different room every time I was in the same proximity as her.

When Gary came home, Ida got a little confused thinking there was an intruder at the door… She began to bark and rushed up to the front door to investigate the noise.
She didn’t bark for long and with lots of stroking and some obedience I managed to calm her down.
Everything went to pot when Gary came through the door…

Ida bounded up to him excitedly wagging her tail and backing her body into his.
I had tried to hold her by the collar but she managed to wrench out of my grip as her focus was on Gary.
I asked him to ignore her until she settled down, which he did.
When she realised she wasn’t going to get any attention until she calmed down, she just sat in front of Gary wagging her tail and smiling up at him until he eventually said hello.

Dinner time was interesting: although Ida was more relaxed than she was in the morning, she was still very excited and it took Gary and I being a tag team for her to stop wondering through to the kitchen to see what I was doing.

The rest of the evening was spent playing lots of games with Gary and I.
Gary and I love our little pup so much already, she keeps us entertained and on our toes… We couldn’t ask for a better companion! 🙂




#GuideDogDiaries Day 10

#GuideDogDiaries Day 10

Wow, our last full day today… Even today has sped past!

The weather was really miserable this morning, I was aching because of the damp, and due to coming down with a cold I only got a couple of hours sleep last night.

Although this really had nothing to do with my circumstances above, I managed to have the worst case scenario known to a Guide Dod owner as I attempted my first ever bus journey with Ida.

Firstly there was a pigeon right under Ida’s nose, she did do really well until the thing decided to flutter it’s wings and she tried to lunge after it.
Once that was all settled I had a lady try and distract Ida by trying to stroke her.
On her gentle leader there is a sign attached saying: Guide Dog is working, please do not distract or feed me.
The lady came over and as she went to stroke Ida she caught a glimpse of the tag on her harness, at the same time Mikyla said: please don’t distract her, she is working.

The lady got a little flustered and said
“Oh, i’m really sorry.”
“Yes it does say not to distract her.”
Sorry, i’m really sorry.”

Me:
“It’s ok, thanks for apologising, please don’t distract working dogs in future.”

Her:
“Really sorry!”
“What is her name?”

Me:
“Ida.”

Her:
*Calling out*
“Ida!!!”

Bus pulls up.

Mikyla:
“Don’t distract the dog, she is working.”

Lady:
“Oh sorry.”

Mikyla to me:
“Tell her to find the bus.”
There is a small gap but no step up.”

Me:
“Ida, find the bus.”

I trip up on to the bus edge and go flying….

Me:
“SHIT!”

Me to the Driver:
“”See, this is why I need a Guide Dog!”

SILENCE.

The bus is rammed, a wheelchair user, a Mother and pram who’s darling toddler was delightfully screaming down the bus!

We finally got to the first set of priority seats, Ida going first. Which she didn’t like very much!
Talk about making a mess of the situation; I couldn’t find my seat, nearly sat on Ida because she was blocking my seat, and then sat on the harness because it was on the seat.

All the while lovely toddler screams away.

Me:
Christ, that was a mission and a half!!”
I don’t like this very much.”

*Ida wriggling*

Shall I get her to back up into the space, it might make things a bit easier for her?”

Mikyla:
“Yes, good Idea.”

Me to Ida:
“Sorry for making a fool out of us, you did a good job though!”
“Oh look, isn’t that noisy baby just delightful to listen to?”
“You are showing her how to behave and be a good girl. Showing her how it’s done!”

Get off bus, no falling over; point to me!

Lady with screaming toddler gets off too.
“Oh, how lovely Ida, screaming baby has followed us.”

Mikyla:
“Just get her to move over here and sit, and we can discuss the route back.”

Lady 2:
“Ooh doggy!!”
*Making a beeline for us.*

Mikyla:
“Let’s move forward, we shall discuss it on the way.”

Both ladies had learning disabilities, and they were not fully aware of the complications distracting a Guide Dog can have.
Mikyla and I had to giggle, she happily exclaimed that this was the worst case scenario for bus travel… Everything from now on will feel like a breeze!

Ida did fantastically on the route back to the car, it was a longer walk than what we have been doing, and towards the last few minutes of the journey the damp was really affecting my knee.
It became much stiffer and I had to slow down considerably. Lots of love for Ida because she slowed right down and allowed me to walk at a pace that was more comfortable.

The only issue we faced on the way back was at the zebra crossing. She slightly over walked so I had to turn her around and get her to find it after correction.
We settled nicely and I heard a driver coming very fast towards us…
I knew he wasn’t going to slow down so I put my hand up to signal what are you doing?!

But he just drove straight past…
So I shouted after him that he was a bellend!
This made Mikyla laugh and react in a similar manner!

The afternoon was far more carefree, we took our Dogs’ for a free run, sadly not together though.
Ida spotted Hope and barked and whined when she realised what she was doing.

When it was her turn, Ida was clearly excited.
She started to pull on her gentle leader and speed up her pace.
We combatted this by walking away from the free run area, this automatically slows her down.
And when she got too overexcited I got her to sit.
I had to do this several times.

You want your Guide Dog to let off steam, charge around and be a normal dog. The issue is, they are still a working dog and you do not want to get them hyped up and losing control.
By slowing her down and giving her commands such as “steady” and “sit” I was able to calm her down so she entered the free run area much calmer and focused.

When I let her off the lead she went speeding off, running here there and everywhere and even made some doggy friends.

There was a Doberman Puppy and a Spaniel out with their owners.
The owner of the Spaniel was throwing a ball about for his dog, and Ida and the Doberman puppy decided to join in.
Neither were as fast as this Spaniel, but they seemed to be having lots of fun anyway.

The guy with the Spaniel kept walking further and further afield away from us, even though he was fully aware that Ida and the puppy were following.

After a good while I blew my whistle to recall Ida. This failed miserably because the guy threw the ball every time I blew my whistle so Ida was far more interested in what he was doing than what I was wanting her to do.
He kept moving further and further away making it even harder for me to get Ida’s attention.
Even Mikyla wasn’t having any luck blowing the whistle and recalling her.

It took Mikyla to go over and get Ida for her to actually come back.
The reason she was not coming back was because she had somehow managed to get the tennis ball, and refused to let it go.
She is such a cheeky madame!!

When she finally came back, she was panting like a good one, at least chasing the dog and ball has worn her out!

Ida rested all afternoon, and it wasn’t until dinnertime things became a bit chaotic.
I took her out to spend and she became very stubborn, not coming back to me when I called her.

In fairness to her there were a lot of distractions in the form of people using the fire exit and walking past the spending run, but it took me a good 5 minutes to get her to come to me.

When we left the spending run it was like she was spooked, she pulled and pulled on her lead and I even had to get her to sit, in order for her to steady.

When we got down to dinner she headed straight under the table and wouldn’t reverse. I had to physically pull her back by her lead.

Thankfully I got her settled down and the rest of the evening went off without any stress.

When I spoke to Adam about it he did say that high distraction levels, the wind and her gentle leader slipping off her nose may have all contributed to her erratic behaviour.

I’m glad to say she settled quickly and she has been fine ever since.

Adam had mentioned that Hope had watched him pack and her behaviour had changed.
Maybe the dogs can sense something is going on?

All I can say, is i’m glad my little pup is back and I plan to give her lots of fuss and cuddles as soon as i’ve hit publish on this post.




Things I’ve Learned.

•Ida prefers her space after a free run because she has knackered herself out so much.

•Ida really does not like the hairdryer!
I went to use it on her this afternoon from our very wet soppy walk and she literally freaked out.
This has made me very concerned that something has happened to her with a hairdryer and it has spooked her since.

•When the gentle leader is not around her nose, the strength through the lead is far stronger and I feel like she is constantly pulling.

She loves making new doggy friends! 🙂

•She doesn’t like feeling like she is missing out!



I’ve packed the majority of our things, i’m really excited to be going home tomorrow, I just hope Ida settles quickly and doesn’t get too stressed.

Wish me luck!

And as always, i’ll keep you updated 🙂 xxx

#GuideDogDiaries Day9

#GuideDogDiaries Day 9

I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since my lovely pup was handed over to me! I am loving learning and experiencing new things with and about Ida everyday! 🙂

In the morning we set off for the same area as the day before to run through traffic awareness.
We covered the same routes and that darned lady in the blue car was still trying to run us over!
Ida was 100% responsive and did not get us maimed or killed: winning! 🙂

Because the morning was so successful and we were close to the shopping centre we decided to head straight there instead of breaking for lunch and coming back again in the afternoon.

We followed the building all the way around, giving Ida plenty of opportunities to steer me through crowds, objects and furniture.

Again I was totally in control of Ida on harness, Mikyla didn’t use the support lead and deliberately followed behind us so Ida would not get distracted by her.

Ida worked very well, listening to me every time I told her “over” “left” and “right”.
She really has been a joy to work with on harness and it’s great that she is very responsive to me now! 🙂

I only had to correct her the once.
A part of the wall had jutted out, and Mikyla got me to stop, tell Ida “watch” and “over”, if Mikyla hadn’t of stopped us, Ida would have caught/ walked me into the wall.
These moments are all learning experiences for both of us, and it makes Ida more aware of the distance between us and the inner shoreline.

Ida successfully took me to the toilets, overshot the cubicle, and when I pointed this out to her she shot in there as if she was the one desperate for the loo!
I even got her to guide me to the sink, handdryer and get me back out into the mall.

We met up with Adam and Hope on the last leg of the journey, and the girls stayed nice and calm until Adam deliberately tried to get Ida’s attention, she held off for a little while, but this girl can’t refuse a fuss!
So naturally I got my own back by distracting Hope! 😉
Once the fun was over we headed back out and towards the car.

Ida made us chuckle; asking her to find the car she decided to head off to the car parking space where the car was parked the day before, instead of looking around at where the car actually was… She found her way eventually! 🙂

The afternoon was spent playing and having lots of down time before we headed down to dinner.

When we first arrived she did try to commando crawl under the table . to pick up a crumb i’m sure… But when I put on my authoritative voice, she settled down very nicely and stayed relaxed for the whole meal.




Things I’ve Learned.

•Ida and I have a great partnership on and off harness, but her obedience is paramount when on harness.

•I too have to be vigilant that if I feel myself getting too close to inner shorelines or objects, a quick flick of the harness and “over” really works wonderfully.

If Ida is trying to turn and I don’t want her to and she may not have registered my commands, stepping right up to her head and using my body to physically block/ push her in the right direction will always work.

She loves finding things even when she is not on harness.
•She is getting so good at finding our hotel room door! 🙂

•She loves playing with me, and especially when her toys are involved.
I even have to ask her to leave her toy dinosaur behind when I put on her gentle leader.
I deliberately leave it near the door, (where I put her lead on), so she heads straight for it as soon as her gentle leader has been removed!
It is the cutest thing!



I cannot believe that it is our last full day at the hotel tomorrow!
I’ve absolutely loved being here at the hotel with her, but I am truly excited to be taking her home and settling her in.

All going well, mostly weather dependant, we are going to be taking our dogs on a free run and doing our first bus journey together! I’m really looking forward to it! 🙂

#GuideDogDiaries Day 7

#GuideDogDiaries Day 7

With it being Sunday we were able to have a bit of a lazy morning, well Gary did; I still got up with Ida. I did manage to sleep in until 08:00 which was great! 🙂
We headed down for breakfast and decided to treat ourselves to a naughty cooked breakfast.
Because the restaurant is so hectic in the mornings we’ve been asked to leave our dogs’ in the hotel room.

As Ida has been pushing the boundaries and getting onto the bed Mikyla said it was best to bench her.
Benching is where you use a specific lead and tie it around a sturdy surface and attach the dog to it.
This is good because it meant that although the lead itself wasn’t short, it was short enough that Ida could not climb onto the bed, which is exactly what she tried to do before the lead stopped her a foot short.

When we came back we made sure not to give her attention, as to not excite her. After a few minutes I released her from the benching lead and gave her lots of praise for being good.

Gary was invited by Mikyla to join us on our walk. We headed off to the city centre again and headed for the mall.
As it was a Sunday it was a lot less busy than the previous day.

From a mobility standpoint I was actually quite uncomfortable and felt my right foot sticking right out as I was walking.

This was the first time Mikyla relinquished the use of the support lead, giving me more scope to really feel Ida and have more control of her while she was on harness. Unfortunately with my foot pointing outwards at an angle to the right this then encouraged Ida to slightly come across me meaning she too was going slightly at a right angle instead of being straight at my left hand side.
I had to keep telling Ida “over,” giving a flick of the harness off to the left and saying the command.
This made her more aware that she needed to be straighter and more streamlined, rather than following the angle my body was taking us.

Mikyla really insisted I do this because it is good for Ida’s awareness and cements her obedience.
I did feel guilty though because this was the first time I had full control of her on harness by myself, I really had to tug the harness to get her to move across.
Mikyla assured me it wasn’t uncomfortable to Ida, but it didn’t stop me feeling bad.

I did manage to bump into a man slightly and I did say a snooty excuse me, but I was quickly informed that he had tried to manoeuvre out the way but as Ida was so close, and I hadn’t made her move over, it was going to happen. Oops!

We walked through the mall and Mikyla said that we were going to head into M&S, a route that Ida had been learning, so I was to relax and let her take the lead.
We walked through the food and then clothing section, she moved me beautifully and smoothly. I was very impressed! 🙂
It really is great to be able to give them that scope to make decisions and let them lead the way. It enhances their level of concentration as a Guide Dog and shows us how well they learn and remember routes!

In the car on the way back Gary explained how interesting it was to walk behind and watch us together. He did say that he was unnerved at some points where it looked like Ida was going to walk me into someone or something, but right at the last moment she smoothly and successfully managed to guide me around the object in question.
Gary said it gave him a better insight into how important the partnership is between Guide Dog and owner, and how impressed he was with her focus and work ethic! 🙂

With it being a Sunday and both Adam and I having visitors Mikyla gave us the afternoon off.
This gave Gary and ida more chance to bond and have fun together.
I could definitely tell they both had a soft spot for one another! 🙂
It was perfect to see them bonding so well and Ida being so at ease with having Gary around, It makes me more excited for us going home next week 🙂

Gary left after 7 in the evening and because neither of us were sure how Ida would react to him leaving, I made sure to distract her with food not too long after he left.
They did have some playtime not long before he left, but I encouraged Gary to then get her to relax and settle down before he was due to leave, that way Ida wouldn’t be too wound up or overexcited.
I definitely think the food made a perfect distraction! 😉



Things I’ve learned.

•It is a big difference taking full control of Ida in harness in comparison to having Mikyla using the support lead and helping to keep her straight.

•Ida will follow the pattern/ angle of my body as I am walking,. so if I am having a tough day with my leg jutting out I have to keep her as straight as I can.

•Using the word over: giving the verbal command and giving the harness a good flick gesture to move over.
This was tough because I did have to put a lot of arm strength into it because of my awkward body angle.

•When she is familiar with a route, Ida’s concentration is at peek level and she is very steady and careful guiding me through all different types of obstacles.

•having Gary visit was actually really important for their bond and interaction together.
Even though they have only met that once, i’m hoping this will make the transition to going home much smoother.



I’m really ecstatic because I got to see Gary, have some quality time with Ida, and, having him be so calm and gentle with Ida,, and, being on board with obedience made me appreciate them bonding even more.

#GuideDogDiaries Day 5

#GuideDogDiaries Day 5

Today has been full of fun and new adventures,well aside from the 06:00 AM alarm in the form of Ida barking!
I know she isn’t barking to be naughty, she’s either giving the noise a warning or she’s unhappy about the noise.
It wasn’t until I spoke with Adam later on that Ida barking had set off Hope… Ooops!

Our walk this morning was in a shopping centre type building, Ida and Mikyla have been training there so it was a chance for me to see how pro-active she is when she is on harness and knows exactly where she is going!
We walked through a carpark with her stopping at each kerb even if it wasn’t necessary for her to do so.
She veered off to the left and walked through automatic doors. As it was indoors the floor was lovely and smooth so it made the walk even more enjoyable and relaxing for me.

She weaved through people, past objects and furniture, and when she got to the end of the route she went straight to the automatic doors and headed left, back in the direction towards the carpark!
I was seriously impressed! If this is what she is like on a familiar route, I cannot wait for us to do routes together in places I actually know!
She is such a confident dog on harness and i’m so proud of her work ethic and minuscule distractions!

Before we headed back out for our second walk Mikyla taught me how to tackle stairs with Ida.
You get the dog to find the stairs and she put her front 2 paws on the first step and waits. This is so you can find the step, step up and then judge the depth of the step itself.
When you are comfortable you tell the dog to set off and you use the lead to control the speed you want your Guide Dog to go.

On the way down Ida sat at the edge of the stairs and waited, this gave me a chance to find the handrail and stairs.
I then stepped down onto the first step and asked her to come when I was ready for her to join me.
Her pace was fine until we got to the last 3 steps, she decided to go a little faster, and as the handrail stopped 2 steps before the stairs finished this made me really unsteady and uncomfortable.
Mikyla said that this happens with all dogs because they get into a rhythm, and I am just to hold the lead firmly and tell her to steady if I need her to slow down.
She wants to make sure that I am comfortable and confident to use stairs safely.
I’m going to definitely practise with Ida more tomorrow. 🙂

In the afternoon we headed towards the area we have been working in previously, this is so that both you and your Guide Dog can tackle a familiar route together and it gives you time to work the dog.

For this walk Mikyla reduced the tension on her support leader giving me a chance
to really steer ida on my own.
it definitely felt different; there was more tension in the harness as we walked and if I needed to make her steady or pay attention I would do a small jerk of the handle, to add a bit more dominance to her through the harness.
This isn’t painful to the dog, it’s a bit like a friend giving you a nudge if you were to fall asleep in lectures.

I did have to do this twice.
Once because Ida walked me into a wheeliebin.
I corrected her by taking her back to the setting off position and as we approached the bin I did a flick of the harness and said over.
Ida is so switched on that she did automatically move over this time, but it’s good practise for both of us to remind her that she needs to be aware of our width together.

The way Mikyla explained it to me was that Ida is still learning our width together and as this is very different to the width of her and Mikyla, she is having to readjust.
This also happened because Mikyla had allowed me to take full control of Ida on harness instead of steering her gently with the support lead.

The second time happened when we were approaching a down sloping kerb.
Mikyla had previously mentioned if I felt Ida going off to the left or right, I should flick the harness and tell her to go straight on.
As we approached the kerb I felt Ida veering off to the left. I flicked the harness and said no, straight on.She followed my direction and then stopped.
I bent down to give Ida a fuss for listening and as I did so my hood slightly grazed a stone bollard.
The reason Ida was going off to the left was to avoid the bollard and get me to a safe part of the kerb to cross.

Mikyla said she had an inclination to what would happen but she wanted to see what would happen if I would correct her. Which I did.
Immediately I felt terrible, Ida was doing the right thing and I made her go off course.
Mikyla said that sometimes things like that will happen, especially in environments I don’t know. She said I did the right thing by correcting Ida, because I thought she was going wrong, and when it does happen just give Ida praise for paying attention and doing as she was told, even when she knew which way to go.

A massive highlight of the day has to be when Ida took me into the Co-Op.
This is a route she has been learning with Mikyla, and wow was she amazing!
She found he automatic doors, turned right as we got into the shop, found a smaller set of doors and sat by them so I could judge the width and tell her to go.
She then took me through thee aisles without me catching anything. She stopped infant of a queue of people until there was a gap in the crowd and she gently manoeuvred us both through the queue.
She then stopped just after,, by the Irn Bru was, Mikyla has been training her to stop at. And then I gave the command to find the door, and she took us out the doors.
She did it so gracefully it was absolutely easy going and relaxed!
I don’t think i’ll ever forget that moment. It was so beautifully executed; ida was totally in control and utterly confident.
I’ll never forget the calmness that fell over me even though I had absolutely no clue where she was going!

On the way back to the hotel we popped into Pets At Home for a nosey; wow they like to hike up the prices for things don’t they?
But it was good to see the sort of things I can get for Ida. 🙂
Also, we saw a rabbit that was flat out on it’s side and fast asleep, but it looked eerily like it was dead!
And another rabbit who had one floppy ear and one stiff ear sticking straight up!

When we came back I decided to groom Ida, i’m really glad she likes being groomed, it’s good to see her so relaxed and zone out. 🙂

At dinner, Ida was great. There was a few distractions but she listened to me when I wanted her to settle down.

Oh boy, I actually had tears streaming down my face when it was time to go back to the room.
The bit of the harness that sits over her mouth and nose had come loose, and because I was all fingers and thumbs trying to put it back on I removed the lead so I could put it back on correctly.
This was when she decided to wonder off and wouldn’t come back to me when i called her (she was only about 2 foot away but still). I had to go over to her, I tried to get her to sit so I could put the gentle leader back on but the combination of her being on a tiled floor and her not being interested she started slipping about.
I guided her back to the carpet and got her to sit. She was completely uninterested and thought it would be fun to collapse on a heap on the floor.
At this point I was already giggling, but that ramped up to shoulders shaking kind of laughter… I put the gentle leader over my hand and guided it towards her nose, just as I got to her mouth she stuck out her tongue and licked the inside of my hand.
I removed my hand and repeated the process, but she just kept on sticking her little tongue out every time it was about to be placed over her mouth and nose.
After she snuck under the chair I managed to slip it on.
Maybe this isn’t as funny on paper, but honestly at the time I couldn’t stop crying!
Even Adam laughed along with me, telling me to never give up my sense of humour, because it’s good practise for the future when she wants to be be difficult!

As soon as the gentle leader was on, she went back to good dog mode! 🙂
I love her cheeky side, her character is just brilliant.
Her happiness and cheekiness is magnetising 🙂




Things I’ve Learned.

•Learning how to go up and down stairs with a guide dog, I definitely need more practice!

•I cannot leave empty food bags on the bed and then leave the room: ida rips them to shreds!
Clearly the smell of food is far too tempting for her not to jump onto the bed and grab it down.
I think she thinks i’m depriving her of food!

•She is so good at direction and knowing our routine within the hotel she now knows how far away to sit from each door so I can open it to get us both through, not only this but she finds the door when I ask her to.
Technically when a Guide Dog is on a gentle leader she is not guiding you so you shouldn’t ask her to find things but I think it’s good practise for her listening to me, plus she gets a massive fuss every time she is right! 🙂

•She enjoys being mischievous but will snap back into good dog mode when the gentle leader is back on.

•She loves company but also enjoys her own company; every time we come back from somewhere and have had some playtime together she takes herself off to her bed and entertains herself.
It’s great knowing that she’s not needy and will come see me when she wants attention 🙂



I’m so excited for tomorrow, we are heading to a proper shopping centre, AND Gary is coming to visit!
I can’t wait for them to meet, I can tell Ida is going to be a proper little flirt!
And of course, I shall let you know all about it! 🙂




🙂

#GuideDogDiaries Day 3

#GuideDogDiaries Day 3

It’s been such a positive day today: breakfast went smoothly, and although she definitely has it sussed what is going on when I go to the wardrobe (i’m either getting her food or grabbing my jacket) she isn’t overbearing with her obvious excitement.
Ida is certainly a character and i’m lucky to have her!

This morning we went for a walk around the area we were in yesterday, however more road crossings, traffic and distractions were in place to test her obedience and our bond together.

Considering it was a new environment for me in the case of uneven paving and more concentration the walk was very smooth and relaxed.

Ida definitely enjoys working, she is certainly a dog that likes purpose! She thrives off of approaching kerbs, she even stops and sits right at the edge without me having to ask!

There was a break between our first walk and lunch so I took this time to groom Ida. It was a lovely moment, Although we had distractions in the form of the cleaners knocking on the door, and her thinking it was time for a belly rub, not grooming, it was aa wonderful experience and i’m so glad she enjoyed it so much!
🙂

In the afternoon we had lunch in the hotel cafe, and this is where Ida’s character made an amusing appearance… She got excited when Mikyla got up to order. This ended inIda standing and attempting to watch just where Mikyla had disappeared to!
She was so giddy she wouldn’t sit for more than a second before getting back up again.
The word down was not in her vocabulary at this moment!
After about the 5th time of asking her to sit, and lie down, I decided to stand. Just at that point Adam suggested I stand and give her the command. This worked! Standing up shows the dog you mean business and it’s time to stop being silly!

After lunch we went out for our second walk of the day. this time accompanied by Caroline, Mikyla’s line manager.
When the boss turns up your dog is either going to show you up or shine like a star.
I was very fortunate that apart from a fumbling harness situation, Ida shined like the little superstar she is!

She took clear instruction from me when crossing roads, even when I stepped out into the road and a car decided to turn the corner at the same point. I pulled her back and said a firm no; she stopped dead in her tracks!

We had a number of obstacles on our second walk; ranging from street furniture, women with prams and even cars parking directly across the pavement that we needed to cross, and get over to.
Ida exceeded expectations and manoeuvred us smoothly and carefully; making sure that she stopped before stepping up onto the pavement!

We had one moment of autopilot were I wanted her to turn left, doing a back left, and she decided to do a forwards left.
I instantly corrected her and she aced it second time around! 🙂
When dogs become familiar with routes, they can clock onto autopilot mode, knowing that you are going to go a specific way, they jump the gun and decide to go with whichever way they have previously been.

I was totally impressed that on the last stretch of our walk she not only slowed down to move me around obstacles but she kept at a steady pace.

Speaking to both Mikyla and Caroline after the walk they both said that they were really impressed by my positive tone and guidance and that I was very good at following ida even when she made the smallest of moves/ turns.
I was blown over when Caroline commented by saying that I have picked up harness walking so well if she didn’t already know i’d never had a guide dog before, let alone a pet dog, she would have thought I was on my 2nd or 3rd Guide Dog!!
How amazing is that? I was totally blown over by these comments! I didn’t even think I was doing that much of a good job!! So to get such positive feedback was a real boost to my confidence! 🙂

Dinner in the restaurant was very positive; Adam and I were on our own for the first time since having our dogs, both Hope and Ida settled down quickly which was fab!
It was only me who was the messy pup, over pouring my glass with water and spilling it everywhere… I bet Ida was hiding under the table in shame! 🙂

I could definitely tell Ida was very tired because the last 5 or so minutes before leaving she became a little restless.
She managed to somehow get her paws stuck in her lead as I was trying to get her to stand, because she was on tiles her little legs started skidding so I had to sit her down to remove the lead before I could get her to stand! Poor little sausage!Adam and I couldn’t help but laugh!

On our way back to our room Ida started to tug and get overexcited, I quickly realised this was because a man was directly infant of her…
Much to my happiness and gratitude the man asked to stroke Ida, rather than just assuming it was OK.
I got her settled and let her have a fuss from the nice man; he even thanked me for allowing him to pet her.
Considering this is my first proper interaction with a member of the public, and she wasn’t on harness I am delighted that the man had the courtesy to ask my permission!
Win for manners!! 🙂

It’s been a long day, but a very good one, i’m loving this special time i’m having with Ida, even if it’s full of excitement!



Things I’ve Learned.

•There are 2 ways in which you can get your Guide Dog to turn left…
*Front left: Standing with your body and feet pointing towards the left, and swing your right arm over your body, in the direction you want to go.
This makes her turn left and then you give the command to go straight on after.
*Back left: Taking a step back with both feet and asking the dog to wait.
Sliding your right foot out to the right and tapping your right leg and saying back.
This makes the Dog turn to the right and walk around you. You pivot as she turns and then tell her straight on.
I’m not gonna lie, she is so fluid in her movements I get a little dizzy!

•Ida really enjoys being on harness. You can tell when she is in full concentration mode because her ears are flat to her head and she is taking a steady pace.

•Ida loves her material toy dinosaur; especially when we play tug of war, or I throw it across the room for her.

•She loves to sit on my feet as I give her back a rub.

•And of course she loves a good old tummy rub!
Which dog doesn’t?




I’m off to bed, it’s actually interesting just how tiring our days are, and how much concentration it takes from both of us! 🙂