28 February 2009

Meet the brother!

Pepper Canister Church, Dublin - Fundraising Service for Guide Dogs
- that's my brother Clint with his owner Rosemary on the left .. Fundraising walk in Cabinteely Park for Guide Dogs - that's me on the left, Clint on the right!
Calming our nerves before an appearance on Ireland AM - breakfast show on TV3 - we were in studio to promote the annual Shades campaign for Guide Dogs!
Out of our litter - four of us are working doodles - Clint, Chad and Cash are Guide Dogs and I'm an Assistance Dog! Luckily Clint lives quite near to us and we get to meet often. We love to fundraise together and spread the word about the services Irish Guide Dogs offer. It's great for school kids in particular to hear about the benefits of having a guide dog and also the difference having an assistance dog can make to a family with a child with autism.

27 February 2009

We doodles are everywhere!

Great to see another doodle get his picture in the paper! Hear a certain person in the White House is also considering one too!

Pity the golfer in this house doesn't play as well as the one in the photo (hope - the golfer in this house doesn't check this blog either!!)

Golden Ball - only a week away ......

Only a week away to the Golden Ball!

Still a few tickets left - please contact Melanie at www.guidedogs.ie if you would like to come along!

It will be a great night - with lots of superb prizes

All money raised goes towards the Assistance Dog Programme - providing more dogs for children with autism

Watch out for a mention on the Late Late Show tonight and the opportunity to win a great hotel break plus 2 tickets to the Golden Ball! Tune in to the Late Late at 9.30pm tonight

26 February 2009

Up, up and away!!

Grand Place, Brussels - December 2008

We can fly again with no problems!!

Last December we went over to Brussels for the weekend - the little man went to school there for one year when he was just four years old. He attended the International School of Brussels - and split his day between a mainstream class and their Special Education Department. The school were fantastic and we have always kept in touch - we're back home six years this summer! Time flies!!

Anyway, travelling back and forth to Brussels used to be incredibly stressful for the little man, all the crowds, the noise - the family dreaded every flight they had to take. The change in routine, the unfamiliarity of a new environment were extremely stressful and the little man was always, always sick.

That all changed when I arrived, two a half years ago, and now flying is a pleasure (or it should be). We're flown Dublin - Malaga and back no problem but flying Dublin to Brussels a few weeks ago became a bit of a nightmare! We had promised the school in Brussels that we would visit - they were really keen to see the little man and to hear about the Assistance Dog programme.

We got out of Dublin (after a lot of discussions - although we had booked and checked and re-checked with Special Assistance - Aer Lingus!) but trying to fly home three days later from Zaventem airport was stressful (to say the least). The check-in desk refused to check us in! Aer Lingus out source their check-in staff now and the young lady absolutely refused to even discuss the matter with us. We had flown over on Aer Lingus on the Thursday evening, so obviously if Aer Lingus accepted us on the way over - they would now take us back to Dublin!

After speaking with a supervisor, a manager, handling agents etc - we were eventually allowed to board the plane. The little man was sick - stress is really difficult for him to handle - and all the benefits of having me with him were quickly disappearing ......

On arrival in Dublin - the Dept of Agriculture vet was not there - he needs to check my pet passport and scan my micro-chip - and check the prior approval form - but no vet! Eventually, a colleague from the Dept agreed to scan me and sign the forms. We got out of the airport but the idea of having to fly again with all that hassle was not appealing ....

Under new EU legislation brought into force in July 2008 - it is meant to be easier for service animals to fly - but you wouldn't know it!

Anyway, we heard from Aer Lingus Customer Service yesterday - they have absolutely guaranteed us it won't happen again - that all relevant staff have been informed - and gave us two complimentary flights on any of their European routes! So, will we chance it again - well, we'll let you know what happens if we do!!

24 February 2009

A bit of fundraising and a CAT in Tangiers!

Many thanks to the High School, Rathgar for having us in today to talk about Irish Guide Dogs and in particular the Assistance Dog Programme! Hope you learnt lots kids about what we do and hope you all get involved in Shades 2009! Hear you're doing a cake sale as well - good luck with that also!

She who must be obeyed took the photo - she's still learning but I think I look okay??

Okay, yes another Cat! He insisted - the little man who rules this house - he actually wanted (and tried) to bring this cat home from Morocco last Saturday! Thankfully the cat was having none of it! Half of the beach in Estepona (ie hundreds of shells are on the kitchen table - he is making us all listen to the sound of the sea every meal!!) but another cat in the house would have been one step too far!!
As for all the talk of riding camels - well, I didn't even allow those photos on my blog!

Clive in Spain ....

'Neustro perro, Clive, ha sido completamente entrenado y adiestrado por la fundacion Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (Fundacion Irlandesa de Perros guia para invidentes). Trabaja como Perro de Asistencia, y ayuda a mi hijo Murray que es autista'

With those few words of Spanish - we went to Spain - it explained about Assistance Dogs and we hoped it would work .....

Sitting in Orange Square in the old Town Marbella - we loved walking around the town and we had no access issues anywhere!

Eating my favourite - fresh prawns for lunch!

Whose boat is it anyway??

Those prawns again!!

Thankfully I got a present home of a couple of pigs ears this weekend.

Provided you stay in a right place - holidaying in Spain with an Assistance Dog is possible. Spanish law is not as good as Irish law in terms of access - it is the personal decision of the hotel/restaurant etc to allow access in the Andalucia region. Every region in Spain differs with access better in northern Spain. Hopefully things will improve in the future.

For pet passports - and the prior approval for entry form - visit www.agriculture.gov.ie/pets. We had to fax into them a copy of my passport and vaccination certificate to obtain the prior approval form needed for re-entry into Ireland.

23 February 2009

We're all back together!

I'm so happy I could jump up and down with excitment!

Well, the gang are home from Spain - they tried to bring a cat home from Tangiers - a photo later - they took the fast ferry over from Tarifa and all of them were sick - I'm really glad I wasn't there! They rode camels and the little man wants a camel now (over my dead body!)

I've got them to put together a few photos from the last trip to Spain with me (which are much more interesting) - will post them later - for the moment - we're just all enjoying being back together again - jumping for joy in fact!

18 February 2009

I'm dreaming of a beach .....

Well the gang are still away - only four more days before we're all back together again - they're fine - keeping in touch on the webcam - missing me lots of course, but coping!

Here's to the big reunion on Sunday night!! They better have some decent pressies!!

The photo is me last year on Dollymount Strand - wish I was with the little man on that Spanish beach they told me about earlier .....

15 February 2009

Today is a sad day ....

My date never showed up ......

and it got even worse, the little man, she who must be obeyed and the sister all left this morning for Spain! The Spanish hotel refused to accept a Service Dog - I know, they did try ... even got on to the Spanish Embassy, the Spanish Guide Dogs, Spanish Assistance Dogs (just newly formed) but the law in Spain just isn't as good as the law here in Ireland and when the hotel said 'No' - that was it! The little man is gone - his grandparents and grand uncles and aunts are out there so it was bit of a family reunion plus his uncle, his new auntie from Cameroon and his new cousin so I guess they'll all be having a great time meeting up this evening!

Did I say I was sad, first I was let down by my 'date'
then I'm deserted today ......

(okay, I know I am getting really well looked after here in Dublin - but what about those Spanish prawns I had the last time I was in Marbella - prawns are one of life's great pleasures!!)

I am so sad, I'll just have to have another lie-down!

14 February 2009

Big Night Tonight!!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
Just getting myself ready for my dinner date tonight ....

13 February 2009

Hey, thanks a million ... the little man is in, the post box has been opened (finally!!) and the card count is as follows:

Me (the main man) - 6 cards
The little man - 2 cards
The sister - 2 cards
SHE who must be obeyed - nothing!!
HE who pays the bills - nothing, zero, zip!!

Guess who is happy ....

Thanks for the gifts too!

Sally - the heart shaped cookies are just too cute!!

Josephine, the chocolate hearts for the little man are too much - you are some bus escort!!
Buddy - sorry you got no cards, but there's always special delivery tomorrow!!

Sponsor a Puppy ...

Help a puppy become an Assistance Dog or Guide Dog ...

At just a few weeks old, Oscar is a tiny bundle of fur just like any other puppy. But in 18 months time, he will become one of the most responsible dogs in the country. He will qualify as a Guide Dog for a vision impaired person, or as an Assistance Dog for a family of a child with autism.

For just €250 a year (that's less than €5 a week!) you can help support Oscar through the first 12 months of his life, as he is being trained with one of the volunteer puppy walking families. Your sponsorship can be paid by cheque / credit card or by standing order.

As a sponsor, Guide Dogs will keep you informed of your pup's progress on it's journey to becoming a Guide Dog or an Assistance Dog. They will send you regular pupdates and photographs.

Whether you choose to sponsor a puppy yourself or as a gift for a loved one or friend, through your help it can go on to be trained to change somebody's life forever. To sponsor your puppy call 1850 506 300 or e-mail fundraising@guidedogs.ie.

12 February 2009

Book your ticket for the Golden Ball ...

All that glitters is most certainly gold ....
Irish Guide Dogs will be hosting its third Golden Ball on 6 March at the Stillorgan Park Hotel in Dublin to raise funds for our Assistance Dogs Programme for families of children with Autism. Tickets are €125 each or if you have 10 friends - a table costs €1,250!

Contact: Melanie on 01 7978741- or melanie@guidedogs.ie to book your table.

The Assistance Dogs Programme for families of autistic children is designed to provide quality of life improvements to the autistic child and their family. The intervention is based on the principle of providing a fully trained dog to the parents and the autistic child and providing them with the training and support to ensure that the dog works to the maximum of its abilities. Go to http://www.guidedogs.ie/ to learn more!

Yes, it's not me in the photo (thank you for noticing!) - I couldn't make the re-shoot!!

but just so you're not too disappointed .......
Just one last dance, 4am in the morning - dancing around the kitchen after last year's Ball!

11 February 2009

Our thoughts and prayers .....

With the horrible news from Australia about the number of people killed and burnt, the homes and livelihoods destroyed and the horrendous devastation being caused by the fires - our thoughts and prayers are with every person caught up in this and also with the animals .....

09 February 2009

Just a normal working day ....

Playing in the snow in the morning - what a great snow filled week ...........

I love the stuff and the cat hates it so he's stuck inside the whole time!

Working in the afternoon with my 'little man'
Just congratulating his sister here and her friends on winning
their medals in the Shield U11's Division 1 Final and on winning
the league - Foxrock-Cabinteely GAA Club

08 February 2009

Say 'Hello' to the fish .......

Okay, a certain little man in the house insisted that the fish say
'hello' too! So here are two of them ....

This is a grey one ...

and this is a blue one with a yellow fin ....

- yes, difficult to get excited about fish - I know but he insisted they get a mention, don't worry - we'll be back with dog photos later ....

I was working hard today - Medals Ceremony at Foxrock-Cabinteely GAA Club - 400 girls and more, lots of noise, lots of people and Murray and me were really good (if I say so, myself). The cocktail sausages at the end probably helped a bit as well (only don't tell anyone from IGDB!) Anyway, there are some photos - only waiting for someone to get around to downloading them ....

More later .........

07 February 2009

Meet the Cat!

Meet Tinkerbell - the cat who thinks he's rules the house! Little does he know!! Tinkerbell (not an ideal name for a male cat, I know - but everyone thought he was a girl until the vet told us otherwise!) He came with the house when the gang moved in six years ago ....

Tinkerbell copes very well with having a dog around the house - a big consideration when
getting an Assistance Dog is how will the other pets in the house cope!

It's not fair if there are pet dogs in the house - our job spec is different
and it would stress both the pet dog and the working dog!

But cats are okay!
Tinkerbell and me are good friends now ....

It's the camera he's scrowling at there and the snow!

Tinkerbell gets nearly as much attention as me (nearly!!!)

What a pose! You see he's learning from a pro!

06 February 2009

The job description!

Fundraising photoshoot - Eddie Rocket's, South Anne Street, Dublin 2 - June 2008

What is it exactly I do? A question we get asked a lot!!

Well, I'm an Assistance Dog from Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (IGDB) trained to work with children with autism. I was matched with Murray in Spring 2006 and have been working with him and his family since June 2006.
A bit of background on the Assistance Programme:-

The Assistance Dogs Programme is designed to provide quality of life improvements to children with autism and their families. The intervention is based on providing a fully trained dog to the parents and autistic child and providing them with the training and support to ensure that the dog works to the maximum of its abilities.

IGDB has been training guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired for 30 years. An Assistance Dog is the same breed, age, and temperament as a guide dog but its training differs in that it is trained to work with and react to an autistic child and their family. The parents are trained how to work the dog and how to get their child to interact with it.

Three families were trained in a pilot programme in 2005 and by the end of 2008, 61 families had Assistance Dogs. The impact an Assistance Dog can have is immense. Each Assistance Dog wears a special blue jacket, which has a small handle attached. There is a belt attached to the child's waist and short lead attaching the child to the dog. The parent, using an extended lead from behind or the side, then controls both the child and the dog. The dog responds to the verbal commands from the parent who controls speed and direction. Autistic children often lack a sense of danger so the fact that the child is attached to the dog means the parent can have confidence that the child is safe. If the child tries to bolt, the dog will sit down.

The benefits of an Assistance Dog include:
  • increase child's independence
  • control child by commanding dog
  • teaches the child responsibility
  • full public access to shops, restaurants, etc
  • positive changes in behaviour, lower aggression level
  • comforts when upset

Murray would not have gone near
the stadium before I arrived!
Even his sister's football match
in the local football grounds
was too much for him!
Croke Park
June 2008

Walking through a very crowded Christmas market at the IFSC, December 2008

Well, that's the job description and background to the Assistance Programme really. We do lots of fundraising also but we really enjoy that and it's our way of saying 'thank you' to Guide Dogs.
To apply for an Assistance Dog - contact http://www.guidedogs.ie/

Coming up over the next few days ..... meet the rest of the animals in the house
  • learn about the great Puppy Walking Volunteers that mean dogs like me get to be Assistance Dogs or Guide Dogs!

Have a good weekend - Blogdog!

05 February 2009

Enjoying the snow!

Having a snowy dog day!

Welcome - my first post and we're having such great weather today - only the second time I've ever experienced snow - and I absolutely love it! - so this post is about the snow and me! Just look at the photos - I played in it, ate it, peed on it and watched the snow turn golden, and best of all had great fun playing with my little man. He made the snowballs and I ate them - one after the other. He threw them up in the air and I caught them mid-air and crushed them in my mouth. Yummy!

Missed a fundraising photo-shoot today - the model and photographer cried off. These humans, bit of snow and they can't function. I personally thought the falling snow would have set me off beautifully but there you go, have to put up with a quiet night in and a re-scheduled shoot next week.

Meanwhile, a few snowy dog photos following of me enjoying some downtime this afternoon .....

- the serious stuff about what I do, how I do it and the benefits of the Assistance Dog Programme for children with autism will be following on .........