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My valentine from the cherubic Patsington was a lift to the train station at six this morning, because I had to go down to Cork to interview guide dogs. It was a lovely day, despite the unholy hour at which I rose (or was gently rolled out of the bed by Patsington). I love, love love train journeys, and it was fabulous watching the sun coming up over the watery green fields. It turned into a horrible rainy day, but it started with a truly spectacular dawn. And as I alternated gawping at it with reading Pride and Prejudice for the zillionth time and knitting the lacey scarf (which is now impressively long), it was a delightful journey.

But not as delightful as the guide dogs. Did you know that the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind association is almost entirely funded by donations? Well, it is, and you should donate to them, because they do amazing work. They basically give people their independence - everyone I talked to found it almost impossible to explain quite how their dogs had changed their life. One said she thought she'd never go outside again after she was blinded in an accident and now that she has her dog she goes wherever she likes. I met a man whose small son is autistic and has been taking part in the assistant dog programme, and he said that his son can't speak, but the dog doesn't actually bark either, and so they sit there in a contented silence.

And then there are the dogs. Oh my god, the dogs. They were amazing - so smart and friendly and cute and calm, and to my great joy, I got to meet Clint the Golden Doodle (seen here as a pup), who looks like a blonde Irish Wolfhound crossed with a sheep. I wanted to steal all of them and take them home with me, but I thought it might be hard to sneak out the Golden Doodle. They asked me if I wanted to try being led around the obstacle course by one of the canines who has nearly finished his training, so I closed my eyes and set off. It was a scary feeling, trusting this small furry beast to prevent me from walking into a fence or a traffic cone. I had to keep waving my hand forward and praising him (which was not difficult) and he did a fantastic job. As do all his canine chums.

But now I am very, very tired, what with the getting up before six. The lovely Patsington collected me from the station this evening, and we are celebrating valentine's day by lolling on the couch watching Battlestar Galactica. Except we did go for a fabulous and very fun dinner last night in a seafront restaurant in Dun Laoghaire, so we are quite glamorous really.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 14th, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC)
Yay, doggies! GDBA uses Labradoodles, and it makes sense that there would be a Golden retriever crossed poodle as well.

My mum used to puppy walk for GDBA, and someone else we knew who puppy walked had a couple of Labradoodles. They were lovely.
Feb. 14th, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
Aw, sometimes you get to do the fabbest things for your job! Fluffy curly dogs, and everything.
Feb. 15th, 2006 05:01 am (UTC)
Aw, they're adorable!
Feb. 15th, 2006 05:43 am (UTC)
Please to send us a Golden Doodle, tx.
Feb. 15th, 2006 07:56 am (UTC)
That sounds a fabulous experience. (Meeting and hearing about the dogs, that is, not the getting up before six.) I love the story about the boy and the dog, just sitting there.

And what a way to spend Valentine's Day. It's a different kind of love, but a life-changing one.
Feb. 15th, 2006 01:35 pm (UTC)
I nearly cried when he told me about the silent boy and dog. It was very sweet.
Feb. 15th, 2006 10:42 am (UTC)
The Golden Doodles are adorable! That sound like a lovely, lovely day.
Feb. 15th, 2006 11:48 am (UTC)
That sounds like such a fabulous day. Valentine's Day should definitely involve meeting puppies.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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