A lovely lunch

On Saturday Wiley and I were invited to be the guest speaker at a local Lions Club Christmas Luncheon.

We had a wonderful time, everybody was so friendly and interested in Wiley and the work he does for me.  The meal was delicious, as I am a vegetarian I feasted on a mixed salad for entree, a pasta dish for main and a selection of summer fruit for deserts. My waitress was very considerate and explained what was on my plate for each meal.

After the entree there was a christmas themed trivia quiz, as much as I love Christmas I had no idea of the majority of answers. Luckily for me my lovely quiz partner was much better – she did so well she came in equal first place.

There was a lucky door prize which I was invited to draw, rather embarrassingly I picked my own name out of the box. The prize of a class full of chocolates was very appreciated.

I gave my speech after the main meal. Towards the end I tried to give my talk a little Christmas twist, this in an excerpt of what I said (well the gist if not my exact words).

As I was writing this speech my thoughts turned to Christmas, a time of hope, joy and goodwill. It occurred to me that I am very fortunate as I experience a little touch of Christmas everyday.  

Because of Wiley my future holds lots of hope, dreams and goals that I know I can achieve. Loving him provides me with boundless and constant joy. 

I am incredibly blessed that I frequently experience lovely acts of kindness.

In fact I live with a not so little, black and furry bundle of Goodwill. The only reason I have Wiley is because of his wonderful puppy raisers. They spent 12 months loving, living and working with him and then selflessly returned him to training so he could eventually become my wonderful Guide.  I can only imagine what a sacrifice and how difficult that must have been.

It is thanks to public generosity, through donations, bequests and fundraising that Guide Dogs can provide all their services and programs free of charge to their clients. Currently the Guide Dog program gets no government funding. It costs over $30 000 to train one dog until they are placed with their handler – that is an awful lot of generosity.

Then there are people in the community who go out of their way to improve the lives of people who may be disadvantaged or disabled. For an example of this we have to look no further than two of your members.

These members have invested a lot of time, energy and effort into starting a Canberra chapter of the Achilles running group. Thanks to them and all the sighted volunteer running guides I have been able to get back into running – something I thought was lost to me forever.  There is also always a lovely volunteer there who is happy to take care of and walk Wiley while I run.

I am very grateful that I am frequently asked by members of the public if I need assistance, whether it is to cross an especially busy road, catch the correct bus or to locate something in a store. These people often go out of their way to make things a little easier for me.

I may be vision impaired  but I regularly get to see the very best in people. 

After my speech I was presented with some lovely thank you gifts including a soft teddy, which I will keep out of Wiley’s way as he loves cuddly toys. Wiley was given a Christmas collar and we also got a beautiful certificate of appreciation.

Then there was the raffle. Surprisingly after my previous effort they still trusted me to draw the first ticket. I am thankful that this time I didn’t pull my name out of the hat!

After the formal activities had been wrapped up I got to chat to a couple of the members before I took Wiley out for a wee walk. Talking about Wiley he was a very good boy, it wasn’t terribly taxing work as he got to sleep most of the time. At least he didn’t start to snore during my talk 🙂

I was a little tired by the time I got home but I had an absolutely wonderful afternoon.

6 thoughts on “A lovely lunch

  1. Sorry I haven’t chatted with you for a while. I read every post, I just don’t always comment. I really liked your posts on what your days are like with Wiley. I am realising more & more how important it is to train him well. I am getting very nervous for Guinness’ assessment in January. People ask me all the time, “Is he a good boy” & I tell them that it depends on who you are making the comparison with. He is a very good boy compared to an 11 month old pet Labrador but if you compare him to what a guide dog should be doing then, let’s just say, he has a lot of work to do (or I should say we have a lot still to teach him).
    I had tears in my eyes when you said how you experience a little touch of Christmas every day because of your not so little bundle of furry goodwill. That is so encouraging for me to hear but unfortunately it scares me as well. I look at Guinness now & think that he is never going to pass. I haven’t seen my supervisor for a while so I am looking forward to seeing her next week & getting the low down on the assessment and where she thinks Guinness is & how he is doing.
    I laughed when you said you pulled your own name out of the hat – I did exactly the same at a quiz night once. I pulled out the name & before I looked at it, I joked that I had pulled my own name out. Then I looked at the name & it was me – as you say, very embarrassed but they made me take the prize! Funny!
    How is your Christmas cooking going? My daughter has made some delicious rum balls (something we only ever make at Christmas) & I have made some shortbread biscuits with fruit mince mixed in – they are yummy! I don’t want to do too much cooking yet – I would eat too much of it before I gave it away or take it to Christmas functions. I plan on making up a basket of yummy goodies for the lovely Guide Dog supervisors and training staff.
    Catch you again some time.

    • Hi Sheena
      I have been thinking of you and Guinness, I know his assessment is not too far away.

      Please don’t let my posts about Wiley shake your confidence in your lovely boy. I tend to write about everything he does well and right but he does make mistakes, sometimes his concentration lapses and he occasionally gets distracted.

      Also a lot of my blog is about Wiley working. His off duty behavior is not always what you would expect of a Guide Dog. He has been known to empty my treat punch when I accidentally left it open, steal some mince left on the bench, pull me whilst on lead to say hi to another dog, eat something off the ground and not come back when called at on off leash dog park. To be honest these little transgressions make him even more endearing – it is nice to know he can still be a little naughty at times.

      Even in the time he has been with me I have noticed a huge improvement in Wiley’s maturity, concentration span, confidence and initiative. Guide Dogs often grow into their job as they get older.

      My Christmas baking is going quite well, I have made a second batch of shortbread and tried my hand at chocolate honeycomb that tasted OK but wasn’t as light and bubbly as I’d hoped. I have still got to make the fudge, caramel popcorn, put together a gingerbread house (I will get my niece to help with this ) and bake a cake.

      Your Rum Balls and shortbread sounds delicious. I know what you mean about too much sampling if you make things too early. I have had more than my fair share of shortbread and honeycomb. Thankfully I have neighbors, family and friends who are happy to take some off my hands.

      I know the Guide Dog supervisors and training staff will be thrilled with your basket of tasty goodies. I expect the dogs they work with get lots of treats so it will be nice for them to have some as well 🙂

      Take care and hugs to your lovely boy

      • Thanks so much for your encouragement Jo. I am very nervous for the assessment. I think a lot of it is that I don’t really know what level of distraction/disobedience etc they will allow to still get into the program. I know the trainers will do a lot of work with him. I think it is the ‘not knowing’ that is making me nervous.Thanks again though, for encouraging me. Hearing of Wiley’s misadventures was funny!
        I am off to a Guide Dog volunteer lunch today. It is in the city so I will take the train in. I could take Guinness with me but I think I will be so worried about his behaviour that I won’t enjoy myself so I think I will leave him home today.
        Enjoy your week & I will be sure to give Guinness lots of hugs!

      • Hi Sheena
        I hope you enjoyed your lunch, did you get to catch up with other puppy raisers?

        I hope all goes well with your meeting with your supervisor next week and they put your mind at rest regarding Guinness’s January assessment.
        Have a lovely weekend
        Cheers
        Jo

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