30 September 2009

Meeting up with old friends!

Yesterday we went to meet with Veda and Vespa - sisters - and two labs that trained with us in Cork three years ago! We were in County Louth - running around in farmer's fields and having a wonderful time ... first up - Vespa ....
then I got in front of the camera ...
and finally Veda ....
and despite the attractions of the field - we did manage to sit together for another photo!
We three dogs were first brought together in June 2006 with our new families - we trained for a week with the Moms, came home and met our respective children and have spent the last three years working with our families.

For all of us, in many different ways, it has been a journey of discovery, of success in many ways and of understanding of how children with autism can relate so well and so beneficially to Assistance Dogs.

For some, times are now very difficult and it is not our place to talk about it further. As their Assistance Dogs, we can only do our jobs .... and be there ....

27 September 2009

Losing matches, pints and dogs in training .....

Today at the All Ireland Ladies Football Final in Croke Park - the not-so-little man was really happy to be there watching the Dublin Senior Ladies play against Cork! He was really happy that is, until Dublin lost by one point!
He was upset, shocked and mad (all his own descriptions of himself) and he kept taking and asking for photos of his 'sad and mad' face!
We had to sit down for a little while to let his Mom calm him down and explain that it was okay to lose, that there are always winners and losers and that today Dublin was just 'unlucky'! It was a great performance by the Dublin team as they were rank outsiders. Cork were going for five All-Ireland titles in a row and were two points down with 10 minutes to go.
As we were leaving Croke Park - I lent a little extra support to his Mom and tried to get him to smile!
his Mom could smile but my not-so-little man was still finding it hard to accept that Dublin lost!
Sometimes he takes things so seriously and no amount of explaining seemed to work today .....
His Mom was down in the Guide Dogs Training Centre in Cork yesterday morning for a meeting and had a quick look around the kennels before she left .... here is Avra who was outside in the kennel area ....
inside was Yvette - a beautiful retriever who was really friendly ....
but the dog that both his Mom and Dad (who just happened to be down as well) really enjoyed meeting was Quillion! A 3/4 poodle cross - Quillion has sadly not made the Guide or Assistance Dog Programme but he is a really lovely dog!
Anyway, I don't share well so thankfully they just took him for a little walk, took a few photos and said 'goodbye'! Last Thursday, on Arthur's Day - we went up to the local pub for a little while to see how they were celebrating ....
Bakers Corner Pub had been turned into a 'tavern' from the 1700's with bales of hay, saw-dust on the floor and some strange dead animals around the place! This pheasant was hanging over my head!
I lay down quietly on the floor while all the singing and music was going on - the saw-dust got everywhere - and stuck on my coat! But my new label on my jacket seemed to be working well - and I was left alone! Being a working 'doodle' can create a lot of unwanted attention - sometimes it just gets too much for my not-so-little man - people continually petting me and calling me and trying to feed me and distract me while I'm working so we recently got a new label for my jacket.
As we were leaving the pub though - we met one of the staff dressed up specially for Arthur's Day! She sat on a bale of hay and chatted to us for a little while! This attention we didn't mind!
and finally I got another taste of the lovely creamy head on the top of a glass of Guinness. Thanks to Ken - the official photographer there who emailed this photo to us yesterday.
Dublin may get beaten in the football - mind you the Ladies did at least get to the All Ireland Final (unlike the men!!) but somethings always remain the same - reliable, constant and always delicious!

24 September 2009

Clive celebrates 250 years of Guinness!

As millions of people around the world celebrate 'Arthur's Day and toast the birth of Guinness today - Clive enjoys his pint as well ...

Here we are in the Guinness Storehouse - the most visited tourist attraction in the country! Dublin's St James's Gate will be the main host today of the many festivities to commemorate Arthur Guinness. At 17.59 patrons there will raise their glasses to celebrate the historical signing of Guinness's lease in 1759!

Mr Darcy tagged us earlier this month for name 6 things that make me happy - well, today as Guinness is celebrating 250 years years of brewing we'll talk about 6 'Guinness' things that make us happy!

- the Guinness Storehouse and visitor centre - we love visiting

- we appreciate very much the very friendly staff - thank you for letting us 'not have to queue' to gain entry

- the wonderful view from the top of the Storehouse - Murray loves looking out over Dublin and seeing all his favourite places - in particular - Dublin Zoo only a short hop away ....

- Guinness ice-cream (Murray's mom makes the best Guinness ice-cream!)

- Guinness adverts - there have been some amazing ads over the years and the horses in the waves is one of the not-so-little man's all time favourites!
- all the different bottles of Guinness that you can admire in the Storehouse - Murray loves counting them!

and the fact that you can get Guinness anywhere in the world - here's Murray's dad and uncle in Cameroon two years ago - and in search of a pint! (think you're looking in the wrong place lads!) In 1936 the first overseas Guinness brewery was opened in London, followed by four more in Nigeria, Malaysia, Cameroon and Ghana! (Saige and Guinness hope you're celebrating too!)

and you are never to young to appreciate a good pint ...

Relax everyone, Sorcha didn't drink it - she was just holding onto it while her Mom took the photo!

we'll leave you with some more Guinness facts .....

- ten million glasses of Guinness are enjoyed around the world every day

- poured at an angle of 45 degrees, it takes 119.5 seconds for the perfect pint to settle

- today Guinness is brewed in almost 50 countries and sold in over 150 countries

and finally, Happy Arthur's Day to everyone! We're all off to the pub for a pint!

22 September 2009

Happy Birthday Mr Cohen!

Today is Leonard Cohen's 75th birthday!

Wishing you a very Happy Birthday and here's a special birthday message from me and the not-so-little man .....


Murray doesn't say 'Happy Birthday' easily to anyone - one of his 'little' quirks - so you're a very lucky man Mr Cohen!

Hope you have a great day!

PS Leonard - listening to Murray singing 'In my Secret Life' while his Mom drives her car has nearly made her crash a few times as he sings along so well and she tries not to cry! Your music so obviously strikes a cord with him and his 'secret life' . A life that we always can't reach - no wonder the whole house are such fans!

21 September 2009

Sometimes it's necessary to just run and play ....

The other morning while the not-so-little man was in school I was out with his Mom and we stopped off to visit her auntie who lives up in the Dublin mountains. We went for a walk and I had a great free run .....

I waited until I was told I could go! I looked around to check out the field and then I was gone!
I checked back in every now and then ....
I saw some cows and ..... tried to say 'hello' but they weren't very interested! Finally we were back down in the farmer's field - just freshly cut I needed a drink! I had a great morning! Thanks to Mom's auntie for bringing us on such a great walk!

18 September 2009

Ice-cream Friday!

Friday afternoon and it was treat time - the not-so-little man got a great report card home so it was ice-creams all round to celebrate!
I was sitting quietly in the car just watching and wishing ....

and the not-so-little man asked me - would you like an ice-cream Clive??
I pretended I didn't mind either way but then ..... he got his Mom to go back into the shop to get me my own ice-cream! See how he took the chocolate flake out so I wouldn't get sick! It was just the most yummiest, most delicious ice-cream! Friday afternoons and great report cards are just the best! Well done to my not-so-little man! He's done two weeks now in his new school and he's really settling in well.

We were asked recently why I don't go to school with Murray - well, I'm trained to work with him and his Mom. She gives me the commands and I obey her and work with her and Murray. If I was to go to school we would need a Special Needs Assistant in the class to work with us. At the moment Assistance Dogs here don't attend special needs schools for that and several other reasons. However, maybe in the future that might change ....

Have a great weekend everyone .... it's started well for me anyway! I can still taste that ice-cream!

16 September 2009

A few Spanish dogs and more!

On what should just be a one pic 'wordless Wednesday' - we'll begin with just one photo of me and then like Khyra often does - hand over to Murray's Mom! Well, if I don't let her talk about Leonard for a few minutes - there'll be no walk later ...." Clive - we'll be brief! We had a great weekend in Madrid - thanks especially to our nephew Brendan who lives there and was a fantastic tour guide! On Friday evening he took us up to the Templo de Debod - to watch the sun set over Madrid.
It was a beautiful spot - full of madrilenos taking an evening stroll and lots and lots of dogs around ...
this little guy trotted over to us to say 'hello'
When the sun finally set we walked past the Catedral de la Almudena and the Palacio Real - both were beautiful in the evening light ...
Saturday we spent in the Museo del Prado having enjoyed a few hours in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza museum the day before.

You would certainly need a lot more than a few hours but during a brief visit we managed to see some wonderful masterpieces including ...Tiziano's - Federico Gonzaga - good to see that dogs were just as important in 1529! One of the most popular paintings there is Diego Velazquez's - Las meninas o La familia de Felipe IV - painted in 1656 - and another dog in the painting!
and finally to Leonard and the concert. Well, the concert began at 10pm (they do things much later in Spain) and finished at 1.20am! It was incredible - the atmosphere just as good as Dublin (if not better) and the audience loved him so much. Cohen's song 'Take this Waltz' is based on a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca so you can imagine how well that went down.
There was encore after encore and when Cohen was thanking all his crew at the end (and he does thank every single person involved in the tour) - there was a big cheer when he named one of his 'Irish' crew - we certainly weren't the only Irish people there!

In fact as we had been queuing to collect our tickets before the concert - we had heard Irish voices in front of us and when the couple turned around to us - we realised they were our old neighbours from 11 years ago when we had lived in Bray, Co Wicklow. We last saw them in 1998! It's a 'small world' as the not-so-little man would sing from Disneyland!

Sunday morning before we left - we went to the Parque del Retiro - full of locals enjoying the lovely warmth of early autumn ....and so many dogs everywhere ..... little ones - and big ones!Madrid was a lovely city to visit for a weekend - thanks Brendan for showing us so much and being such great company! Thanks also to Leonard Cohen for another memorable concert! We can't get enough! He's back in the US from next month - playing in Madison Square Garden, New York on the 23rd of October - Petey - would you like a visit???

- sincerely Murray's Mom and Dad!"

PS - don't worry Petey - they don't really mean it!! - Clive