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.