Day 6 – Training with Mr Banks, my new guide dog

Barking mad.

Today was as quiet as I expected. Not in a bad way though, I had everything very planned out so that the day wasn’t boring. I got up around 9, went for breakfast at half past, showered and took it easy at 11, took the dog out for a run at 2, went out to play some music after that, got back late, groomed the dog, played with him, made a few calls and wrote this blog post. That’s the general gist anyway. Of course, a few things happened that were unexpected so while I’m doing this documentary I may as well fill you in.

The mornings are very similar as far as Mr Banks is concerned. So I won’t go into any more detail there because I would just end up repeating myself. To summarise, he’s a playful idiot. Breakfast in the centre was a kind of traditional Irish breakfast. Not fried so as it wasn’t too unhealthy though. I must say, that for an organization that are trying to keep donations coming in, they don’t show that their having a hard time of it to the users of their service. Their standards are as high now as they were ten years ago. This shows their dedication, resourcefulness and commitment. Again, please use the donate button on the right of every page on this site if you can. Your support will not go unappreciated. It costs thirty five thousand Euro across the life of a working guide dog. For training etc. I could be wrong here but no more than eight to ten per cent of this money is provided by the government. The rest is provided by private donations. It was eight per cent about ten years ago but with cut backs, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this has been slashed during recent years. If you want more information, please call 1850506300 or 0214878200.

Before I was able to leave the centre for a few hours I got a message from someone I work with asking for some help This delayed me for an hour but I managed to get to Charlie’s, a pub in cork city that is host to a brilliant Irish traditional music session on Sundays from 3 to 6. I need to take a minute to acknowledge the flexibility shown to me by the company I work for. Fujitsu have been nothing less than absolutely amazing during this. They allowed me to take this time without asking anything in return. Usually holidays are a maximum of two weeks but the training for Mr Banks will take a little longer than this. It’s a testament to them. A lot of companies don’t have the best of reputation for accommodating their employees so I am very aware of how fortunate I am to work for them. Of course, I will say that the views on this website do not reflect those of my employer. Although, that probably goes without saying at this stage.

Getting out of the centre was exactly what I needed. I am finding being here easier this time around for some reason but still, I needed some freedom for a while. The staff in the centre are incredibly kind and generous but you know, just once it would be great to hear one of them respond with, “Get it yourself you lazy fecker” instead of doing something without a second thought. I insist on making my own coffee etc. because there’s just no need for them to do it. Now, during lunch time, there are a lot of people around the kitchen area so because I’ve been asked to stay away, I let them do it. I’m not talking about anyone else here. I’m only talking about myself because I know people have different strengths but without going too much into it, it was nice to talk to people who knew me well and who completely forgot that I am blind. When I wanted a pint I went and got one. No one asked if I needed a hand. When I went to the toilets I forgot the first time so one of the fellas gave me a bit of slagging and pointed me in the right direction. Goo d enough for me. I should have remembered where I was going. I didn’t want to carry a pint down for someone at one stage and the woman behind the bar asked me what my last slave died of! They know me reasonably well in there and I enjoy the freedom that everyone has.

Let me take a step back. Before going out and before getting caught with work stuff, I took Mr Banks down to the sand run again. He went a bit crazy though and started barking at me a lot. The person managing the kennels as of the opinion that I shouldn’t tolerate this but his trainer says I should just ignore it. I ignored it for about five minutes but then I decided enough was enough. I put the lead on him and settled him down for a good ten minutes. He seems to have been getting possessive over his toy. I think this was a little bit of mistaken association on his part. He recognises the sand as an environment where when playing with other dogs he has been winning dominance over them. Therefore with me today, because he had been cooped up all morning, the sudden release caused him to get carried away. However this theory is based on a limited awareness of how dogs operate so I’ll enlist the superior experience and skills of the instructor in the morning to become more informed. I’m hoping I handled it correctly. I put him on a lead and repeatedly retrieved the toy. He didn’t show any signs of possessiveness after that so he was allowed to enjoy the rest of the time off the lead.

Again, this post is quite short. I it’s been a quiet and very uneventful day. I think Mr Banks has been pushing his luck a little with me so hopefully tomorrow he’ll snap out of it.