A picture of Ike. My new guide dog?

Ike is standing beside me.

So… I’ve had eight text messages, four direct messages, one email and 5 calls from people wondering how the matching visit went today. Thanks for the concern. I know that many of you have gone through this process so your support is appreciated.

The day started at half 7 in the morning. As the song says, the weather outside was frightful! The winter decided to fling all its lode at us in one night. Thunder, lightning, rain, snow, sleet, hail, wind and frost ravaged the country over night. The M1 and M7 were particularly bad roads. Certain parts of it were reduced to one lane. Most dangerous parts of the road were made worse with compacted ice.

I was more concerned about traveling than Emma was. She braved the elements with a lot more confidence than I’d have in that kind of weather. It was very slow going in parts. In total it took us five hours to get to Cork.

We got to the Irish guide dog centre in Model farm road in Cork at just before half twelve where we met the instructor. He introduced himself again and started the conversation off right away by introducing the dog to me. We went into a different room after a few minutes and we continued talking.

I asked a few dozen questions and the instructor answered them all expertly. It was very interesting to hear about this perspective dog. We discussed its likes, dislikes, things that needed to be improved and its strengths.

The next stage of the matching visit was the walk. We did a route that the dog would be reasonably familiar with. It’s important that the dog is happy with where it is walking around so that it has one less thing to worry about when it’s doing the first walk with what could possibly be its new handler.

After the walk we had another quick conversation with the instructor. I was impressed with his plans for the next dog. He has some really nice methods of ensuring the perspective dog is given the right training to enable it to hit the ground running so to speak.

We decided that Ike, the dog that I met was a very suitable dog for me and I will begin training with him on the 10th of January.

The walk was better than I thought it would be. The dog is incredibly easy to anticipate. With Freddie, movements were fast, snappy and very confident. This dog is a little bit more apprehensive. This is obviously something that will improve but I hope it doesn’t change his body language all that much. I love it! Everything he did I could anticipate well in advance. He’s a very long bodied dog so when he’s making a change to his position or his movements there seems to be a little bit more advanced warning.

Let’s see how it goes.