Failte abhaile!

Today is the day that I’ve been looking forward to. The first real opportunity to introduce my new guide dog to my home environment without an instructor following behind offering support. But, I’ve jumped too far ahead. Let me go back a bit too yesterday. Before that though, let me tell you a little bit about my new guide dogs name and why I didn’t want to make it public until now.

People who know me or who read this website may know that things with my previous guide dog didn’t go well. For a number of reasons the dog was returned to Irish guide dogs to be retrained with another person after just nine months of working with me. This is mainly because the dog could not adapt to the high work load that I needed it him to handle. However, let me point out at this stage that the dog is now with someone else and with the different routine has exceled.

Because things went so badly with the last time I entered into the process of training with a new guide dog I decided that in case it didn’t work out this time I should be a little more careful. I used the name Mr Banks as a private joke.

I am delighted with our progress so far. I never expected the training to go so well. So, because I am very confident that this new partnership will last the distance, I am very happy to tell you the name of my new guide dog.

Are you ready?

His name is…………………………………


If you’re from Ireland, you’ll recognise this name. It stands for the National Asset Management Agency. I’m not going to explain what this is on this blog. Guide dog pups are named by the association. Each litter has a letter of the alphabet. This litter was the letter N. Of course, when so many litters are born so frequently it is hard to find new names that haven’t been used recently. It is unusual to give a dog a topical name. In other words, they usually try to stay away from names or words that are relevant to a particular fad because they would become irrelevant very quickly. So, it’s unusual that a name such as Nama would be picked but. Although it’s a bit strange, it’s grown on me.
On the other side of things, Nama is Hindu for Name and the word Namakaran is the Hindu christening ceremony. Or, so I’ve been told by a friend who really likes the name.

So there you go. Nama. AKA Mr Banks is my new guide dog and he is getting on really well. At this moment while I write this blog post he’s snoring in his bed in the living room of our house. The television is on in the background and he’s very content.

Sorry I didn’t write yesterday but the day passed by very quickly and really, my priority was making sure Nama was settled into the house properly. We played a lot, did some obedience, allowed him to relieve himself in the designated place and of course, he also had the opportunity to meet Emma for the very first time. I’m hoping she’ll write a guest post very soon to tell you of some of the things she’s noticed.

In terms of Nama’s working life, the after care has been great. Yesterday the only route we did was to get the ball rolling. We walked from the house to a coffee shop in the middle of town called Esquires. This is a nice route because it passes a number of places that we will need to visit over the next few weeks and unlike the routes we did in Cork, it has a specific start and end.

Today we did the route to the train station and back. This was a much more difficult and extended route for the dog to sink his teeth into. The instructor was with us again so I got some great pointers on managing his enthusiasm and excitement. When the instructor went off we did the route to the coffee shop once more just to see what would happen. I enjoyed the freedom so much you just wouldn’t believe it! I could do that route to the coffee shop with both my hands tied behind my back but with a dog it’s just so effortless. Avoiding people and obstructions, walking straight through a staggered crossing, finding alley ways and then finding the door to the shop is just exceptionally easy with a guide dog. There’s just simply no stress in it. I had forgotten the pleasure of just walking down a road. I can’t wait until the next time I leave the house. It will be tomorrow morning I think but there will be no frustration, no dread, and no indecision while walking like there was when I was using the cane. I know some cane users are perfectly happy with this mobility aid and I’d never try to convince them that my preference is better. Different things work for different people. For me though, nothing beats handing the responsibility of navigating around an obstacle to a trained, responsive and cautious guide dog.

Nama and I aren’t quite at 100 per cent efficiency just yet. This level of work will be attained over the next six to twelve months but what’s important is that it will happen and already we are at an adequate level to be very mobile and independent.

Fortunately, there’s not a hell of a lot to write about as far as the work is concerned. Nothing has really gone wrong so far so it makes for slightly shorter blog posts.

All I can say at the moment is Failte abhaile Nama.