We’re back

I can’t beieve it has been well over 9 months since I posted an update. So much has happened it is hard to know where to begin.

Our New Home

Wiley and I finally moved into our new home in September last year. Before we moved in I had new floors laid. Naturally all chosen to suit Wiley, i.e. hard wearing, non slip etc. The only other work was installation of some celling fans which have provided some much needed relief during the summer heat waves.

One of the biggest issues when I purchased my property was the fact all the windows had been painted shut. My Dad as been wonderful, installing new ones so at least I can open some of them. The next project is the purchase and installation of a heater, this is a priority as winter isn’t too far away now.

Unpacking wasn’t too much of a chore thanks to the audio labels I put on all the boxes. As my new place is considerably bigger than my old flat there was plenty of space to put everything so within a day the whole house was organised. Wiley has two cupboards dedicated to his stuff. all his gear, spare toys etc is in one and his food, treats, supplements and medications in another.

I haven’t done much in the way of modifications. A couple of tactile markers here and there as well as hooks so everything has a place to live is all that was required in the short term. I would like to install a hand rail for one set of stairs, it is next on my to do list once the heater has been purchased and installed.

I love living in Yass, it is a friendly town and very easy to get around. Everything I need is a short walk from home. There are regular week day bus services into Canberra which is essential as I need to go into town once or twice a week.

Work

There have been big changes for me at work as well. I am still doing (and loving) my PR work but I have handed over the role of volunteer co-ordinator and accepted the position of Client Feedback Officer. This is a wonderful position, I can do some of the work from home but also head into the ACT office to work from there. There won’t be much written on here about my new role but I will continue to share what Wiley and I have been up to as far as our PR duties.

PR Talks

I have had some lovely talks at schools, community groups, girls brigade and other venues.  I am still doing training for taxi drivers and bus drivers and a couple of weeks ago I spoke to court staff for the first time.

Last Tuesday was a very special day as for the first time ever Guide Dogs NSW/ACT held a graduation outside of the training centre and it was held in Canberra. The event was held at the Federal Golf course, Gulliver the giant guide dog was there as well s the graduates (five gorgeous young labs) and three puppies.

I gave a brief speech about the impact both my beautiful Guide Dogs have had on my life – it was only for five minutes and it was the most nervous I have been giving a talk for a long time. I was so anxious I’d go well over my five minutes but I am pleased to say I didn’t ramble and stuck pretty much to time.

For me the highlight of the day was meeting a wonderful lady who sponsored Wiley’s litter five years ago. I took Wiley’s harness off so she could give her boy a pat and we had some photos taken together as well as one of Wiley on his own. What a privilege it was to be able to say thanks in person to someone who was such an important part of Wiley’s guide dog journey.

Travel

Since the last update Wiley and I have done quite a bit of travel. One of the highlights was flying over to Perth to attend the Blind Citizen’s Conference last year. It was a fabulous conference with engaging speakers and lots of information. There were quite a few Guide Dogs and Seeing Eye Dogs in attendance, all of whom were very well behaved.

Wiley handled all of the travel incredibly well, he loves planes as he get lots of treats whilst flying. The only issue for me was that as the stay was so short (3 nights) I wanted to keep him on his regular feeding and tolieting schedule – that meant finding time to give him his meals during the afternoon tea brake and taking him for his morning relief walk at around 4AM. Despite having an absolutely wonderful time we were both happy to be home.

Training Courses

The other travel has mostly been to attend course or training. A couple of trips to Sydney which are easy compared to flying to Perth. I enjoy attending courses as I love to learn. All of the course have been related to my new position – I have done several complaint focused courses with the NSW Ombudsmen as well as an Accidental Counsellor Course in Canberra run by Lifeline.

Without exception all of the trainers I have worked with have been fantastic about Wiley being in the class and also providing me with course material in an accessible format. I have been able to participate in the training the same as everyone else which is the way it should be, but isn’t always the way it is.

Wiley

What can I say, my boy is as special, talented and loveable as ever. He isn’t perfect, can still be a little food distracted, but it is the fact he does naughtily things occasionally that makes him so adorable and fun to work with. He has never let me down when I needed him and I have asked a lot of him at times.

He loves his new garden, every morning after our recreational walk he does zoomies around and around chasing his ball or playing fetch. He also loves to venture outside during the day to sun bake on have a quick nibble on the grass. The fact he loves his outside space so much reinforces to me that we made the right decision in moving further afield.

I know I have missed out a lot of what has happened during the last nine months but I am sure I will fill in missing pieces here and there. For now it just feels good to be back at the keyboard sharing our adventures.

Wiley in his new garden

Wiley in his new garden

The fortnight that was

Firstly I am pleased to report Wiley is back to his normal happy, fun loving and playful self. I am so relieved. I didn’t realise how incredibly stressed I was until he was well on the road to recovery. I have started to reintroduce his normal food so fingers crossed his digestive system copes.

Here is a little summary of what else has been happening in the last couple of weeks.

Easter

Wiley and I had a lovely Easter break. We spent some quality time with my family, heading over to my sisters for some delicious food, great company and scrumptious dark chocolate. Wiley loved his Easter toy and treats. I often wonder what Wiley thinks of these special occasions, he certainly seems to enjoy them as much as the rest of the family.

Our walk and talk catch ups with friends were lovely, plus it was good to walk off some of the dark chocolate.  Overall we had a great few days

House Sale

The agent has had an Open House every weekend for the last four weekends. Each time we have had at least a couple of people come through for a look but so far no offers. I am getting quicker at getting the place ready for inspections. This week we might have a mid week evening open house as well as a Saturday one. The agent is confident my place will sell but said it might take a while.

Talks

The big news is that the Taxi talks are back on again. I will be going in whenever they have a class, which is most weeks. The content has been tweaked a little. I had a great meeting with one of my lovely colleague from Community Education in Sydney. We worked through new power point presentations for both the Bus and taxi talks. It was great having her support and assistance.

I also had a bus talk on Friday, the new presentation seemed to go down well. There are a couple of interesting talks and events coming up that I am looking forward to.

Dog Sitting

Last weekend Wiley and I had an enjoyable couple of days staying at my parents. (Well until Wiley ate something he shouldn’t have and became ill) Wiley and the wee dog seem to getting on better than they used to. It is funny when they try to play together as the size difference makes things rather awkward. Tug of war is especially one sided so I join in to help the wee one out.

I took advantage of having some extra space and gave Wiley a bath, not sure he enjoyed it but he was a good boy and let me do what I needed to without making a fuss.

Today Wiley and I enjoyed a lovely morning walk, he is now crashed out while I catch up on some bill paying and other admin tasks. This afternoon we have a lunch date then I think it will be a quiet afternoon before another busy week next week.

Here is a picture of Wiley and the wee dog taken last weekend.

Wiley and a wee friend

Wiley and a wee friend

Poor neglected blog

The last few weeks have flown by, I checked my blog and couldn’t believe it has been almost two weeks since I wrote something. Here is a little summary of what has been happening.

Talks

Only a couple of talks in the last fortnight, a lesson for new Bus Drivers and a lovely girl guide group. The driver talk went a little over time as I had lots of questions and a very engaged class. The girl guide talk was so much fun – I spoke for a while then asked for questions which came thick and fast. I finished up both talks by taking Wiley out of harness and letting him enjoy a pat.

Work

I am still doing extra hours as Jo’s position has not yet been advertised. There is a great temp holding down a few days and I cover the rest. Most days it is simply a matter of answering phones and doing basic admin tasks. I particularly enjoy chatting to clients.

The highlight in the past couple of weeks was a seminar the office hosted on Tuesday. It was presented by Karen Wolffe and focused on assisting children with vision loss. She emphasised the importance of teaching social skills, having high expectations and the importance of work. Even though it focused on children I got  a lot out of it.

Walks

Oh how I love autumn, our walks have been spectacular. We leave when it is dark and for the first hour or so we have the whole area to ourselves. Once it starts to lighten up more people hit the trails so Wiley still gets to say hello to other people and dogs. Walking through the sunrise, dawn chorus and bouncing roos is the best way to start the day.

My friend’s ankle is getting better so I am not walking her dog anymore, I kind of miss taking the big fella out fro a stroll. She isn’t up to going for long walks so for the moment instead of going on a walk together the boys have been having play dates.

Selling the house

This is what has been taking up most of my time. I have scrubbed, polished, cleaned and shined every surface of my home. The carpets have been steam cleaned and windows washed. The marketing photos were taken last week and according to mum and dad and the agent they look great. I was hoping the first open house might have happened this weekend but the contract wasn’t ready so the launch has been put off to next week.

I have done everything I can to sell my home – now it is a matter of waiting to see if someone else loves this place as much as I have.

Here is a photo of Wiley for my gorgeous family in the UK. It is of Wiley and his guide dog pal Jazzy. They had a play date yesterday – they ran, played tugged and shared a nylabone. Wiley was very happy but exhausted when we got home.

Wiley and Jazzy, finally resting

Wiley and Jazzy, finally resting

Tears, farewells and homecomings

The last week has been a busy and emotional one. On Friday my better office half – the wonderful Jo- had her last day at work. I confess to being teary as we said our farewell’s, I am really going to miss having her around the office. She was incredibly efficient and always so much fun to be with. Work will not be the same without her.

I think Wiley could tell something was up as he was a little subdued all day. I am sure he was picking up on my emotions as he certainly didn’t understand that Jo wouldn’t be there next time we went into work.

On a positive I have plans to head down to Jo’s new coastal location with some of the other girls in the office for a ladies weekend (Wiley included of course!) Walking along the beach, shopping and a weekend with friends is something I am already looking forward to.

I spent several day at my parents as Dad was having a medical procedure and was going to be in hospital overnight. I am very happy to report everything went well and he is happy and healthy and back home. The main reason I went to stay was to keep mum company and help out with dog walking and other heavy lifting tasks that Dad is on strict instruction to not do for the next week or so.

While we were there I gave Wiley a bath as it was a warm day and i could bathe him in the garden. Despite a few issues with a hose fitting he seemed to enjoy himself. He did the biggest zoomies around the garden once I had towelled dried him. He then slept on the lawn in the sun for a couple of hours.

I have been a bit of a dog walker this week as I have also been walking Haggis my friends dog each mornings she is still off her feet after surgery. The few days I was at mum and dads she had other friends come around to help out so he didn’t miss out.

Work has been busy as I’ve been trying to get on top of things before Jo left. Now she has gone I will be spending even more time in the office. It will only be for a few weeks until someone new is hired.

Thankfully I only had one talk last week, anymore would have been hard to fit in. Wiley and I went to a great After School Care group. The kids were all so lovely and very keen to see Wiley work and also pat him once his harness came off.

Despite lots happening Wiley and I have still enjoyed some gorgeous morning walks, including meeting up with a friend and his dog which is always fun as Wiley loves walking with company.

We also managed to fit in Wiley’s doggy massage, he was very relaxed while his massuse worked on his tight back leg muscles. I am going to try and keep up with regular appointments until we have moved and he no loungers has to negotiate a steep flight of stairs several times a day.

The happiest part of my week was visiting my sister and niece. They have just returned from their overseas trip. They had a wonderful time, although I think they would have liked to stay a little longer. I have only heard the tip of their holiday stores so am looking forward to hearing more about their adventures. As soon as work slows down we will arrange a sisters and nieces brunch.

I am hoping to meet the real estate agent sometime this week so I can sign contracts and find out what else I need to do. I am getting quite excited.

Lighting Talk and office work

It has been an interesting and productive week. Monday in particular was a very long day.

Wiley and I walked into the office a little before 10AM . We had a meeting to attend plus I wanted to start doing a handover with Jo as she leaves next week. I enjoyed my day at work as there was lots to do so the time passed quickly. Whenever there were a few minutes to spare I worked on the finishing touches to a speech I had to give that evening.

A little after 5PM, Karyn, our Acting Regional Manager and I hit the road. We were due at the Australian National University around 5:30 to give a talk to lighting engineers, architects, landscapers and other urban designers about the importance of good lighting design for people who are vision impaired.

Traffic was a little congested so we were a few minutes late. I get anxious when I am running behind schedule and as I hadn’t had time to prepare the talk as much as I wanted I was nervous about the evening ahead.

I was also daunted at the thought of giving a talk to professionals. The theme of my presentation was how light affects the functional vision of people who are vision impaired.   I explained that light can be both my best friend and worst enemy.  Glare can totally blind me, I frequently have to close my eyes and occasionally need to cover them to stop bright light from reaching them. In the most favourable conditions light enables me to make out vague shapes thanks to contrast between objects.

I think the talk went well, I was stumped by some of the questions which were quite technical but thankfully Karyn was there to answer the tricky ones. After my talk there was a very interesting presentation by a professor who knew everything about how eyes work,  lighting design and industry standards.

It was an enjoyable, interesting but late evening – we didn’t get home until 9PM. Wiley and I were wiped out and pretty much headed straight to bed.

Wiley handled the extra long day really well, I took his dinner and bowl into work so he ate before we went to the talk. He also got lots of opportunity for wee walks and as he had a long walk Monday morning he was content to sleep most of the day.

Tuesday was a much needed rest day, Wednesday was focused on house preparations.

First off was a shopping excursion. With my parents help I bought a new blind and doona cover. I let my mum choose the colours as she is much better at interior design than I am. My ever practical and helpful Dad fitted the new blind on my kitchen window.

All I need now is to take the treadmill downstairs and bring up a sofa and I will be able to get someone in to take photos. Things are progressing well.

Yesterday was another work day. The plan was to spend more time with Jo, unfortunately she wasn’t well so Wiley and I ended up manning the office. It was a very quiet day so I worked on some public education initiatives for cycling groups, shopping centres and dog clubs.

I am looking forward to the weekend. Wiley has another massage booked in and I have plans to catch up with friends.

Australia Day 2015

Happy belated Australia Day. Wiley and I had a reasonably relaxing long weekend. We decide to celebrate by spending as much time as possible enjoying the beautiful Australian bush as possible. We have walked many miles in the last three days – here is a photo of a kangaroo we met on one of the walks – you can’t get much more Australian than that!!

Kangaroo on Mount Majura

Kangaroo on Mount Majura

Unfortunately I am yet to hear back from the electrician about fixing my bedroom  fan. At least it has cooled down a littlest I haven’t really needed a fan to help me sleep at night.

I have come across another thing that will need to be fixed before listing my place for sale. On Monday my Brother In Law came to collect some boxes he had been storing in my garage. He noticed there was a mark on the ceiling indicating a leak. It was directly below the kitchen sink so it was a safe bet that was where the issue was.

Fortunately my BIL is a plumber, he had a look and found a very slight leak in the dishwasher connection which he tightened and fixed. Once the ceiling is sanded and painted everything will be as good as new – most importantly the issues has been completely resolved and won’t reoccur.

Preparing a property for sale is much more stressful that I remember – I am more determined than ever to make sure this next move will be a long term one! To help keep my motivation up I remind myself how much Wiley will enjoy having a garden to play in.

I think Wiley’s favourite part of the weekend was going to visit some friends who have recently moved to the other side of town. They have a gorgeous little boy who adores Wiley and the feeling seems to be mutual. The two of them had a wonderful time playing and cuddling.

Broken bedroom fan

After a week or so respite from the summer heat it has started to warm up again. I had my lounge room fan on most of the afternoon.

At bedtime I was rather smugly thinking what a comfortable night I would have with my bedroom fan on. I hit the button on the remote and nothing happened. Odd, I thought – perhaps there was an issue with the remote so I change the batteries – still nothing. At times like this my vision loss becomes a great source of frustration. I think ‘if only I could see what is wrong”. In the absence of being able to do too much myself I called my wonderful friend and neighbour Jean who kindly came over to see if she could figure out what might be wrong. It turned out having vision was not going to fix anything – despite flicking various switches the fan and light were still broken.

I sent a message to the electrician who installed them. I’d hoped I would have received a reply this morning but as it is a long weekend I doubt I will hear from them until next week. It ended up being a long, hot and uncomfortable night.

In more positive news I am making good progress in getting my place ready to put on the market. I have found the documentation the agent wanted, cleaned out every cupboard, de-clutered and removed family photos and personal items.

During the week I sent a local doggy rescue group an email letting them know I had various items to donate including toys, collars, leads, a range of dog coats (I used them as cria coats for the baby alpacas and llamas when I was on the farm), a pet carrier and box of old towels.

I also gave them a box of dog books. I had a rather large collection that I’d built up when I could still read print. I used to love to read anything and everything relating to dog training, behaviour and psychology. Even though they are of no longer of any use to me it was still difficult for me to let them go. For some reason I felt a part of my identity was tied up with the titles on my bookshelf. The impending move was the final push I needed to find them a better home where they could be read and appreciated.

A lovely lady came to pick everything up this morning. There is still lots to do but one step at a time seems to working well so far.