At the end of last month Wiley and I headed up to Sydney for the Guide Dog NSW/ACT AGM and staff training. We left Canberra on Tuesday morning, kindly given a lift by one of our lovely colleagues. Wiley did his usual trick of sleeping the whole way, except for a quick coffee and wee wee break.
The AGM was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, we arrived with enough time to have a quick drink and chat with supporters and guide dog staff. The actual AGM which I thought might be a little dull was actually very interesting.
There was a great guest speaker – Sue Ellen Lovett, who is a para-olympian horse rider. Her talk was funny, entertaining and very uplifting. There was also a very cute video of some of Guide Dogs younger clients. After completing all the usual AGM matters we had another chance to catch up with other attendees.
I was delighted to meet up with the instructor who trained me with my first Guide Dog Khan. I also chatted with some of the other instructors who worked with myself and Khan when we were in Sydney, plus the trainer who did the team training for Wiley and myself.
There was a staff Christmas planned for Tuesday evening but I declined the invitation as I knew Wiley had already endured a long day, with lots of harness time and I thought it would be better for us to have some playtime and rest in my hotel room.
The wonderful Jo offered to walk back to the hotel with me but as she had errands to run I assured her Wiley and I could make it back to the hotel on our own. We took things very easy as the streets were crowded. As I was walking alongside the Pacific Highway traffic noise was constant and masked any sounds of cars that might be turning into the roads we needed to cross. Wiley and I indented – which means walking down a street to cross further down where the main road noise is quieter so I can hear vehicles approaching from either direction. This took us extra time but was a safer option.
Wiley’s work was amazying, he wasn’t phased by the noise or activity and he knew exactly where he needed to go. We made it back to our room with ease, I was so very proud of my beautiful boy.
The next couple of days were full of training sessions and meetings. I let Wiley rest out of harness as much as possible. Thankfully there were lots of breaks so he had plenty of opportunity for toileting. I took a mat around with me so he could chill out and enjoy a chew while I listened to the various presentations.
I was a little self conscious as I knew we were surrounded by Guide Dog instructors. Although I was there as a colleague and not a client I wanted to show Wiley and I work well together. As usual Wiley didn’t let me down, in fact he was given quite a few compliments regarding his work and behaviour – what a good boy!
Having the wonderful Jo with us for every session helped to take the pressure off, Wiley trusts and adores her and is happy to follow her wherever she goes.
Between training sessions there was time to catch up with the Sydney and regional based staff who I don’t get to talk to very often. For me that was the highlight of our visit, along with the belly laughs Jo and I shared at various times. Our first flight home was also pretty exciting.
Even though it was an exhausting couple of days, I got a lot out of it. Not only did I enjoy spending time with some lovely people it was a great confidence boost. I hope to travel more in the future as I know together Wiley and I can go anywhere and achieve anything.