Wednesday, 30 April 2014

In need of therapy

Today I was at an event hosted by the charity Places for People Scotland Care and Support. I'm on the Board of Directors and thought it would be a good thing to show my face.

The actual event was called A Single Step and was about getting people to think about taking a single step to becoming green. The main speaker was Wayne Hemingway and before I went I was a bit dubious as to what I thought about him, but he was inspiring. He was passionate about recycling/upcycling and growing things and I was very impressed.

As well as interacting with staff and clients I was given free seed potatoes and spring onions and had the opportunity to decorate a hat, which was good fun.

Sadly as the day progressed so did a sore throat and my sinuses became steadily more blocked. I left a bit early and was relieved to get home and do not much for the evening - and given that the weather became more winter-like I ended up holding on to my Peter Rabbit hotwater bottle to help me feel better.

I hope Peter Rabbit therapy works as tomorrow the lovely Folly (a 13-week German Shepherd/retriever cross comes to stay for a few days and I think energy is going to be the order of the day.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A better way

I was tired last night and was falling asleep on the sofa at 10 pm so went to bed, but the moment my head hit the pillow I was wide awake.

It was a couple of hours before sleep descended and then at about 4 am I was wide awake again. I managed to fall asleep again and was having a really in depth, intense dream (which of course I can't remember) when the alarm went at 6.

I struggled awake and sleepwalked my way to the bathroom and when I came out I bent down to pick something up, stood up and slammed my head against the corner of the wall.

Well I can tell you that, apart from having a small egg forming on my forehead, it was a helluva way to wake up.

Not the best start to a day.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Saturday night's are not alright for fighting...

... all they're good for are staying in and being low key.

Last night at about 7.30 pm Mountain Man had a callout with Borders Search and Rescue. At about 11 pm I went to bed. At 1.45 am MM came home and, although he was quiet, I heard him and was wide awake and stayed awake for about 2 hours. I then woke up at 4.30 am and couldn't get back to sleep.

The fact that I had to work today - I facilitate a Mindfulness practice workshop once a month for a group of parents in Edinburgh - didn't help at all. I was really tired and remained so for the rest of the day.

MM has now left for a 24 hour event he's working on down in the Lake District and Odi and I are spending an extremely quiet evening watching crap TV as I'm far too tired to read or do the work I really need to get done.

Odi is also very tired. Her season is taking it's toll and she's been sleeping for a lot of the day. In some ways it's quite a relief that I don't need to play with her lots, but I do feel sorry for her as she's not herself at all, poor wee soul. The only thing that seems to make her feel better is to lie on my feet and she's quite a weighty thing and doesn't understand that it's really uncomfortable for me.

So it's a low key Saturday night for us with nothing better to do than watch Avatar. Me for the escapism and Odi for the noises. Sound enthralling? No, I thought not!

Another play date

As I told you in yesterday's post Odi had a playdate with Mary, but because the photos were on Mountain Man's phone I didn't get them til late afternoon when he got home from business activities in Edinburgh.

Odi has quite a few Guide Dog pals. It amazes me that they all are so unbelievably good natured and seem to get on so well with each other. There's no drama, no fighting, just play, play, play.

Mary's puppy walker is also called Mary. There's apparently a funny conversation with the puppy supervisor and Mary that goes something along the lines of:
PS: Hi Mary, I'm wondering if you could take on a black lab bitch that needs re-homing due to circumstances.
Mary: Ok. Well what's her name?
PS: Mary
Mary: Yes?
and so it went on!

Here's pic of them both. Just lovely.

Odi and Mary. Mary has a bit of skin condition above her left eyebrow so it looks a little weird but it doesn't seem to bother her at all.

Friday, 25 April 2014

A day at 'Big School'

We got up before 6 to get ourselves ready for a special Induction Day at the Guide Dog's Training School in Forfar yesterday.

We had to drop Odi off with her pal Nancy. The 2 of them were going to spend the day together with Alec's wife, Jackie, whilst Alec, Mountain Man and I got the easy option.

As both of them are in season it was a great opportunity for them to have a playday.

On the way up my Puppy Supervisor had asked if I could pick up a puppy at the Forth Road Bridge Tesco's car park to take to Forfar with me and hand over. We rendezvoused at 9.15 am and picked up the absolutely adorable Victor. He was so cute and so different to Odi. Victor was unbelievably gentle and, although a bit unsettled at one point during the journey, he had none of Odi's biting or 'in your face' tendencies that she showed from Day 1. Whoever ends up with him will be very lucky. There were moments where Alec, MM and I talked about bypassing Forfar and kidnapping Victor because he was so adorable, but we decided to be sensible. I handed him over with a bit of a heavy heart!

The adorable Victor

The Training School at Forfar really is state of the art. We got talks from an instructor, a puppy supervisor, a dog welfare officer and a blind person who works there and has had several guide dogs. The last was incredibly moving and made all the difficulties we've had with Odi seem totally worthwhile. We also got a guided tour, which was fascinating and here are a few pics for you to give you a flavour of the place:

The Puppy Wagon that brings the puppies to Forfar

One of the 2 cats that live at Forfar. Apparently this one hates dogs, but chooses to live there!

The indoor training arena

The state of the art kennels. The dogs were only jumping up because one of their trainers was near.

We got to see several dogs doing a training demo and even got to do a blindfold walk with a dog in training. What an experience that was!

It was a long day and we didn't get to pick Odi up until almost 7 pm. Apparently Odi and Nancy had spent most of the day playing and having a really good time.

Odi and Nancy having a laugh

As soon as we got in the car Odi fell asleep and once home she flopped on the floor, where she remained for the whole evening.

Today we had her other pal, Mary, who's also in season and needed a play, come over, but the photos of that playdate are on MM's phone so you'll have to wait til tomorrow for those pics. Interesting that all 3 of them, who live relatively close, are in season together - Mary's 10 months, Nancy's 8 months and Odi's 7 months.

Anyway, that was our day at Guide Dogs big school where Odi will go when she's about 13 months old, unless she's withdrawn before for not being suitable.

It was good to see it all, but both MM and I were also tired when we got home and so Odi wasn't the only one who flopped for the evening!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A visitor to cell block H

Poor Odi has been an enforced prisoner at home since Sunday. I didn't dare take her anywhere since she's in season, but she spent plenty of time in the garden playing and rushing around.

Today I heard from the Puppy Supervisor and we're allowed to take her around town (streets only) as long as she's on the lead and there aren't any loose dogs around. But before I had that call I'd already arranged a puppy play date with the adorable 12 week old Folly, who's a German Shepherd/Lab cross.

I thought it would be great to introduce them as Folly is coming to stay with us for 4 whole days in May and also it would provide Odi with much needed distraction from not being allowed to run free for a while.

Odi was so excited to have a pal here. Poor little Folly didn't quite know what to make of her initially, but as Folly lives with the very excitable Cathy (another Guide Dog puppy in training who's now a year old and is due to go off to 'big school' very soon) she knows all about being jumped on.

Folly then decided she'd had quite enough of all that big dog play, so apart from barking at Odi (I'm not sure Odi quite knew what to do with that), she then took one of Odi's nylabones and sat in Odi's bed with it - all very cute.

Odi behaved well and although did take the bone back from Folly she did so with no hint of 'it's mine', she just wanted to play.

The only problem was, the prisoner was so pleased to have her visitor here, she was almost overcome with excitement and paid scant attention to what I asked her to do. She was also very, very sad to see Folly leave and sat by the front door looking longingly at it.

It's going to be fun having Folly to stay. At least it will be for Odi!

It's mine!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

MM hits the nail on the head?

Yesterday was just beautiful and Odi and I spent a very pleasant afternoon out in the garden after a morning of supermarket shopping and wandering about Kelso.

I did a bit of sunbathing, a bit of reading and playing games with Odi. She had a couple of completely mad moments racing round and round the garden and then came and plonked herself down on top of me while I was lying on my front on the blow-up bed on the grass. It was really funny, but there isn't a photo as Mountain Man wasn't quick enough. She weighs a ton!

A bit of r&r

Odi's behaviour was still very 'adolescent'. She would check that I had something in my hand before coming, so we did a bit of training with lots of treats so it would be a success. But there were still moments of aberration, like while MM was doing a bit of gardening he caught her trying to climb over the wall to get to our neighbours!

Then this morning when I went to get Odi up I realised she'd come into season. In some ways this is such a relief and I'm hoping it's the reason for all the recent less than good behaviour.

I think MM's statement of 'thank God for that' was actually very appropriate for Easter, don't you think?

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Turning the corner

Yesterday I told you Odi and I were off to dog training. It took us an hour to get there and on getting out of the car she behaved like an idiot. And I'm sorry to say it continued that way for the whole 2 hours we were there.

Of the fifteen puppies Odi was by far the worst behaved. She peed on the floor, wouldn't leave the other puppies alone, wouldn't walk on a loose lead and when it came to letting her off to walk to heel... well I'll just leave that to your imaginations, but suffice it to say it wasn't our finest hour. But worse was to come. We had to do a recall, which 2 weeks ago Odi managed to perfection, but you'd have thought she didn't have a clue. She ran off round the hall chasing all the other dogs and we were in disgrace.

There was one interesting thing though, which was her brother Ollie was there. Odi behaved quite differently with him than with the others. It really did seem like they knew each other, which was very sweet. Ollie's lovely and laid back and behaved impeccably during the class, which just showed up his sister as being a complete hooligan.

In some ways it's rather like playgroup when you spot the disruptively badly behaving child and move yours away rather quickly... that's what all the others did when they saw Odi coming.

So my feeling is we turned corner yesterday, but it was the wrong one. Let's hope we can turn the right corner soon and get back on track, as to get over the shock last night I had 3 glasses of wine. I'm not sure my liver will be able to stand it if this continues!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The times they have a-changed

It wasn't so very long ago that I held down a full-time job, had 2 very active boys, 4 ponies, 2 dogs and a cat. I also grew my own veg and looked after almost 5 acres of woodland. And when I think back to those days, I can't believe how much I got done in a day.

My life now consists of days spent doing Guide Dog puppy things, which seem to take an inordinate amount of time and I don't seem to get time to do a whole lot else. Here's yesterday for instance:

I got up at 6.15 and got myself ready for the day, then let Odi out and fed her and then played in the garden for bit to use up some of her energy. We then headed off to Lauder to meet up with Alec (a man) and Nancy (an 8 month old Guide Dog puppy) at his house for a quick play (the dogs not the humans) before shoving both dogs into the back of his 4x4 and going off to Newcraighall railway station (40 minutes away) to meet up with the Puppy Supervisor and 2 other puppy walkers and their puppies. We then got on the 10.40 train into Waverley for our puppy train training. At Waverley, where one of the puppies did a not terribly savoury poo right in the middle of the station and we had to wait while it got cleared up, we walked around for a bit taking in the sights and sounds. Then it was off to Princes Street Gardens with instructions from the PS.

Just a small aside - it's at this point it really strikes home that blind people must have a helluva time negotiating busy streets like Princes Street where all the people take absolutely no notice whatsoever of anything beyond themselves. The puppies behaved really well.

We all sat in the sunshine having a cuppa, which is no mean feat when you have 4 puppies who actually want to play with one another and not lie down and be well behaved. One of them managed to knock the table so we actually only got half our drinks!

Then it was a walk back to Waverley to get the train back to Newcraighall. At Waverley Nancy did a lake (well you couldn't really call it a pee!) and we had to wait while that was cleared up. And then it was onto the train with 4 pups who still wanted to play and were rather disgruntled at being separated and forced to sit under a seat for the 20 minute train ride.

Once at Newcraighall it was a quick goodbye and Nancy and Odi were shoved in the back of Alec's 4x4 and managed to play for the whole journey back to Lauder.

By the time I got home it was almost 2 and I had time for a quick lunch and then off to Kelso with Odi in tow. The writer's group I attend were having their last meeting until September and I'd promised I'd take Odi in to say goodbye to them for the Summer. We did a short walk around Kelso doing a few errands and a bit more training and then home to sit in the sunshine in the garden for the rest of the afternoon - or at least I sat, while Odi tore up the lawn until I stopped her and got her to settle down for a while until it was getting a little too cold to sit out and we went in for the evening.

And today? It's puppy training over in Aberlady, which will take me approximately an hour to get to. By the time we get home it'll be well into the afternoon and so my day will have mostly come and gone. Another day of doing not very much.

How times have changed!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Back to being old fashioned

I seem to be floundering slightly. The weeks seem to be zipping by and it all feels a bit out of control especially when I've been experiencing diary problems.

What my iPhone and my MacBook are supposed to do is seamlessly add any additions I've made no matter which diary I've entered the appointments in, but ever since I upgraded the operating system on both they have decided they're not speaking to one another and consequently I can't keep track of what appointments I've made.

I thought I'd fixed it, but having had to change several dates recently I've realised it's not fixed at all. Back to the drawing board on that one.

So now I'm back to using my paper diary. It's much more reliable than the electronic versions and at least if you book a lunch date with me you should feel assured that I won't have to cancel it a few days before because of double-booking! 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Sunday lunch

Yesterday I was out all day at a work event. I set out before 8 am and wasn't back til 7 pm. It was a long day.

I woke this morning to do some Skyping with friends on the other side of the world. One in Australia and the other in South Africa. Lovely to be able to chat in real time to good friends. However all this took quite some time and we had people coming for lunch today, so at almost 11 with said people coming at 12 I rushed about the house like a mad thing.

I realised that there were quite a few essential items missing from the menu e.g. bread (we'd forgotten to make any last night), parsley for the mushroom pate, vegetables... and the list went on. Mountain Man was sent off to do a quick supermarket shop with Odi in tow, while I got on with cooking and vacuuming and trying hard to make the house look reasonably presentable.

I managed to get the mushroom pate made (minus the parsley topping), the fish pie put together and I drastically threw things into rooms our guests, Iain and Gillian, would hopefully not venture into while I waited for things to cook.

MM arrived home to a tale of Odi misbehaving in Sainsbury's after meeting her pal Mary in the veg aisle and then pooing in the crisp aisle just to make MM's day. He arrived home just as our guests arrived.

Our friends brought their 8 month old lab/collie cross pup Poppy so that Odi could have a pal to play with. MM and Iain were immediately detailed off to walk puppies while Gillian and I sat drinking fizz and getting lunch ready.

The guys returned with stories of Odi's newest fad... sitting in the pool in the field made by all the recent rain while Poppy looked on incredulously. Odi arrived home absolutely soaked through and was put into her cage to dry off and Poppy went into the spare cage while we ate.

Lunch was ok. The mushroom pate wasn't as tasty as usual and the fish pie sauce wasn't as thick as it should've been, but the company was good. Once dogs had dried they were let out to play and they seemed to enjoy their time, tho I did hope Poppy wasn't leading Odi into bad habits when she jumped onto the bench to get a closer look at the fish pie.

The big problem of drinking alcohol during the day though is that it completely blitzes me, so once Iain and Gillian had left that was me for the afternoon. Nothing more got done for the day. But given the weather was crap and Odi was exhausted from her Poppy playing session it didn't really seem to matter and, in some ways, it was a lovely way to end the week.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Sometimes it pays

After the disastrous trip to Langan's Brasserie for Mother's Day on Sunday I put a review on Trip Advisor. Needless to say it wasn't a glowing report. Anyway, I got a reply from the manager at Langan's asking me to phone her. I did. And now I'm getting a voucher and they'd apparently love to welcome me back.

The great thing about this is that my cousin is coming over from the States in June and has asked me to book somewhere for dinner. I wasn't going to go to such an expensive place, but hey... if it's a free dinner then I'm not complaining... well at least I hope I'm not going to be!