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 week that was

Wiley and I have had a lovely week partaking in the hospitality of my parents. We are both enjoying the company, warm house and endless selection of delicious food items in the pantry and fridge. Wiley in particular appreciates sharing all of Toby’s, (my parents dog), treats.

Walks: On our free mornings Wiley and I have been exploring a little further afield on our walks. We got a little lost a couple of times but I eventually figured out where we were and managed to get us back home.

A couple of mornings we had the good fortune of meeting up with our dog walker friends which meant Wiley could enjoy regular off lead runs with his cocker spiel and standard poodle pals.

Work: Unfortunately I didn’t get as much work done as I wanted last week. I did make some progress on the volunteer program and caught up on a couple of routine admin tasks but not everything on my to do list was crossed off.

Consequently I have a busy week ahead at work. My main focus will be on the final planning of the Personal Safety Course. The first session is on next Saturday. I can’t wait, I am particularly looking forward to learning some blocks and punches and maybe even flooring any potential aggressors.

Our new home: Not a great deal of progress made in the purchasing of our new home. I had a building and pest inspection performed on Friday. I should get the reports early next week. Then we can move forward to exchange. As the property is currently vacant I am still optimistic Wiley and I will be able to move in sometime in August.

I am more confused than ever on what type of flooring is best for Wiley. There is lots of contradictory information out there and what seems best for ease of cleaning and being hard wearing is not necessarily the best for Wiley’s joints. Oh well I still have a couple of weeks to do more research before making a final decision.

Other Highlights: Last night Wiley and I were invited to a party at a friends house to celebrate their birthday. It was a great evening with delicious food and wonderful company. I was able to catch up with some old friends as well as meeting some lovely new ones. Wiley wasn’t short of doggy company as there were three other beautiful dogs at the party, all of whom he knows and likes. I think he was disappointed that no one dropped any food on the floor at least not close enough so he could pick it up but other than that I am sure he enjoyed himself as much as I did.

 

Wiley and I have a new home

What a week – packing, moving, cleaning, working, house buying, dog sitting and just enough frosty morning walks to keep me sane.

House Sale and move

I had the week planned to the nth degree, packing, uplift, cleaning, carpet cleaning, pre settlement inspections and settlement all need to be done within four days. There ended up being a slight delay and a little hitch but by Friday afternoon my place and the keys were officially in the hands of its new owner.

I was a little sad when I shut the door on my little unit for the last time. It is the only home Wiley and I have known and its location next door to Mount Majura was fantastic. It was tiny but that made cleaning and upkeep easy and affordable. Still our next place will have more room for Wiley to play, not to mention a garden where he can do zoomies whenever he wants.

Wiley coped well although when all the furniture was being taken out on Tuesday I could tell he was anxious. We ended up leaving the removalists to it and took a last walk on the mountain – it was good for both of us.

Wiley and I are currently staying with my parents, it is nice to be able to take a bit of a breather before we jump into the process of buying a new home.

House Buying

My first offer on the house in the great location wasn’t accepted. After two more  inspections and some negotiations on what work the seller would and wouldn’t finish we came to an agreement and my second offer was accepted.

I am incredibly excited, the house, although needing work has a lovely warm feeling, the location is perfect and the garden ideal. I will start the formal process of buying early next week.

Now comes the exciting part of choosing flooring, paint colours etc. At the moment I am researching the best flooring for dogs, I want something that is easy to clean but also not slippery so Wiley won’t go sliding all over the place.

Once we have moved and settled in I plan on getting some happy hens to lay fresh eggs. I love chickens, I had lots on the farm and they all had their own little personality. I think Wiley will enjoy having some feathered friends.

It is going to be another busy week – I want to focus on work and researching dog friendly renovations.

 

 

The countdown to the move is on!

It has been a rather stressful week, not because of anything in particular but I feel like time is getting away from me and I still have lots to do. I honestly thought I didn’t own much stuff but there are boxes and boxes of my possessions stacked in the garage and I still have a few more thing to pack before my removal next week. Wiley doesn’t seem too perturbed  that everything is disappearing around him although he is sticking to me like glue so I am sure he knows something is up.

Talks

The highlight of last week was being a guest speaker at a Planned Giving event hosted at the Federal Golf Course last Thursday. It was such a lovely morning, I met lots of truly wonderful and generous people. I also had the privilege of hearing a speaker from Guide Dogs Australia talk about several policy areas the organisation is focusing on. The include NDIS, Age Care reform, Early Intervention and Employment – all very important issues that affect people who are blind or vision impaired.

I spoke about my experiences in the workforce highlighting that limitations placed on me by other people (outside of Guide Dogs)  tends to be the biggest barriers I face in the workplace.

After morning tea we were invited to take a walk around the golf course, it was a perfect day for walking and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. For visitors that didn’t want to walk golf carts were provided. The Federal golf course were incredibly welcoming and helped to make the event really enjoyable.

Wiley had a lovely time as he got to catch up with his pal Andy the ambassador dog and another working Guide Dog. All the dogs were very well behaved. He also got to enjoy the gold course walk to of harness – he loved all the new delicious scents.

House Hunting

I have made an offer on a second property, I should know by Monday one way or another. If my offer is accepted. Fingers crossed. what I really like about this place is the location. It is close to everything I need including shops and a river where I can walk Wiley. It also has good access which will make it easier for Wiley and I to get around. Mum and dad have told me it needs quite a bit of cosmetic work but that isn’t all that important to me.

Work – a new role and new project

 

During the week I started work on one of my new roles – i have been asked to be the ACT volunteer co-ordinator. I am very excited about this opportunity. I admire and respect volunteers and feel privileged that I will be able to work alongside them. With their assistance I hope to be able to expand the offices ability to promote the Guide Dog brand in the ACT and increase awareness about all the services (not just guide dogs) that the organisation offers. Ideally we could also do some fundraising and public education – lots of possibilities that I am keen to explore.

I managed to recruit a couple of wonderful people at the event on Thursday so I am off to a good start. Now I can’t wait until our first event.

I also sent out information to clients about a project I have been working on over the the last couple of weeks. Guide Dogs NSW/ACT are offering a free Personal Safety course for women who are blind or vision impaired. It will include information of how to assess for threats as well as how to react to threats and physical altercations. I can’t wait to attend. Although I have never really felt threaded I am aware that as a Vision Impaired women I could be perceived as an easy target or victim and my ability to assess my environment is  limited as I am unable to perform a visual assessment of what is around me.

Walks

These have been my savour this week. A long daily walk with Wiley has helped me walk out the stress and anxiety I am feeling about the impending move as well as give me time to plan each day. I also mentally wrote my talk during a walk – I tend to do my best thinking when I am moving.

If everything goes to plan my next blog entry will be after my move and with any luck will include details about our new home!

 

House Hunting and other exciting news

House Hunting and Moving

It has been a busy week here. With settlement on my current place quickly approaching Wiley and I really need a new home. I have finally made a decision on where I want to live so at least I can focus my attention in a specific area.

I had a second viewing of one property that I really liked and made an offer but it wasn’t accepted so the search is ongoing.

I have set up email alerts so whenever a property in the area i want at the price I can afford comes onto the market I know about it. It looks like Wiley and I will be staying with mum and dad a little longer than expected.

It has been a productive week with a removalist and carpet cleaner booked and other moving tasks ticked off the to do list. I feel like things are little more under control this week than last week.

Work

It was a week of meetings. One was for a project I am working on – things are falling into place nicely and all going well I can share details about it next week. I am quite excited about this specific project as it is something I have wanted to do for quite a while.

I also had a meeting regarding a new role at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. I love the sound of the position being discussed and really hope it comes to fruition. In preparation for my potential new role I signed up for my first webinar – it was a very interesting listen. When I get a copy of the presentation I will use my screen reader to go through the PowerPoint presentation.

Talks and walks

A very quiet week on the talk front, just the regular taxi one. Next week is a little busier with a morning tea function that I looking forward to.

Our regular mountain walk were disrupted by three days of heavy rain. We need the rain but it made the bush tracks very slippery so Wiley and I walked around the neighbourhood instead. It seemed like we both spent three days constantly damp.

At least  training Wiley to shake on command came in handy.  We walked up to the bus stop where a few people were sheltering undercover.  Wiley guided me somewhere to wait out of the rain but as soon as we stopped I knew he would want to shake himself dry. I figured people wouldn’t appreciate my dog shaking water all over them so I told him to wait. We then stepped outside of the shelter and I gave him the command to ‘shake’ which he did instantly. He then guided me back out of the rain. One of the passengers thanked me which I thought was very nice. While we waited for the bus I took out the towel I carry around with me and gave Wiely a through rub down – at least he was reasonably dry and comfortable on the bus trip to work.

A pending trip

I confirmed during the week I am going to attend the Blind Citizens Australia Conference in Perth in October. That will be quite a trip and long plane ride for Wiley and I. Lots of planning to do to make sure things go smoothly.

Time to keep packing and cleaning.

We’re Back!

After a very long break Wiley and I are back and we have news!

Our little unit is sold – contracts have exchanged and all going to plan I will be moving out early next month. I will stay with mum and dad for a few weeks until I buy a new place – with a garden for Wiley:)

At the moment I am surrounded by boxes. I want to pack up all the small stuff and get a removal company to do the big items. I stick an audio label on each box as I close it up. That tells me the content of the box and where it needs to go. Everything will go into storage until I am ready to move into our new home.

I went house hunting with mum and dad on the weekend, there are a couple of good prospects that tick most of my boxes – it is exciting looking for a new home. I took Wiley with me but left him outside with mum or dad while I went into peoples home. I used my cane and got the agent or my parents to explain the layout of the home. I felt this was respectful of the home owners who may not want a dog in their property.

In other news I had a period of working almost full time while we were between a temp and full-time Client Liaison Officer. It was exhausting, especially as I had to fit in my speaker engagements as well. Thankfully things have quietened down now our new full time CLO has started. I hope to take on other work for Client Services but am waiting to find out the details.

I have had some lovely talks and walks over the last couple of months, it has been a nice respite from the stress of selling and the thought of moving.

Now we are back I will do my best to keep things updated. One of the main reasons for my silence was a superstition that if I wrote about it then the sale of my place might not go through – not sure why I thought that but I felt more comfortable keeping things private.

It is time for a late morning walk with Wiley, we had a quick stroll this morning but had to keep it short as I had an early meeting with a removalist for a quote. Now we can hit the trails for a proper walk.

Happy International Guide Dog Day

Today, April 29th is International Guide Dog Day, a time to celebrate the important role Guide Dogs have in the lives of their blind or vision impaired owners.

This year to coincide with this special day Guide Dogs NSW/ACT are running a campaign called It’s time to end Guide Dog Discrimination. Please visit http://www.guidedogs.com.au/news-and-events/news/29-04-2015/international-guide-dog-day for more information about this wonderful initiative.

Here is a link to the campaign video which specially targets access refusal at cafes and restaurants. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJDc0Q4FVv4&feature=youtu.be

I am fortunate that I haven’t personally experienced any discrimination with Wiley. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes feel anxious going new places, just in case I am denied access. Part of my job is to educate people on Guide Dog Access laws so I am well aware of the relevant legislation and would stand up for my right to enter any public place but as I dislike confrontation I know I’d be very upset. I hope that this years campaign goes a long way to preventing discrimination for Guide Dog teams.