Tag Archive for guide dogs

Thankful yet Frustrated

So, it had been a bit of an eventful weekend.

Not in anyway the weekend I had planned on having.

Sorry for the riddles. I won’t keep you in suspense anymore.

On the weekend beginning Friday 7th June I ended up in hospital, suspected of having suffered a TIA or ‘mini-stroke’…. The pre-curser to an actual stroke.

Something that having never smoked and only ever drunk alcohol occasionally I didn’t think I was at risk of.

After all I kept saying “but I’m healthy, I’m active” but actually as one lovely nurse explained to me stroke can affect ANYONE! From babies, children, teenagers, young adults, fit adults, unfit adults right through to older people.

Before I continue let me just confirm, thankfully the initial suspicions were incorrect. I had not had a stroke or a TIA or actually any form of brain bleed.

I feel very fortunate for this, yet I felt the urge to write this blog to help others understand what happened, why this was suspected and how I am now.

Friday evening I was sitting having just eat a regular sized dairy milk bar (other chocolate bar brands are available) when I suddenly got a tingle in the left side of my mouth and chin.

Initially thinking maybe I was having an allergic reaction on the advice of a friend I reached for my phone and took a selfie. Ten minutes later the tingling was persisting, yet now it was moving. It was also beginning to spread down my shoulder, left arm and left leg.

Another photo, yet no swelling.

A call to 111 (out of hours Dr) a quick ‘check-list’ of symptoms and the call handler said something that left me shocked

“we have sent an ambulance to your house, please do not eat or drink anything, please lock away any pets.”

This is when I explained I had a guide dog, I would put her on her lead, but wouldn’t lock her away and before I could ask why there was an ambulance coming the call handler told me to keep my phone to hand, not to call anyone except for 999 should my symptoms start to get worse ….. then goodbye.

I messaged friends but tried to tell them not to worry (even though I was actually beginning to feel quite concerned)

Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long. The ambulance arrived and the paramedics quickly explained why they had been called.

Although after initial checks and having me smile at them, the paramedics were not sure what had happened; but felt that it wasn’t a stroke.  But with the nature of my eye condition they were unable to test my eye movements for reaction.  So after a call to another Doctor it was decided the best thing to do was to take me to hospital.

At this point two of my small group sisters arrived.  Even I could see the panic in their faces…. The paramedics explained to them, I reassured them and with the promise that I would most definitely call when I needed to be collected from the hospital (hopefully in the next few hours) I left in the ambulance.

Off to Queen Alexandra Hospital we went, but no blue lights, no panicked rush; which I actually found quite reassuring.

It even appeared that Fizz’s comfort was more a priority for the paramedics and then the staff in Accident and Emergency than what had actually bought me here in the first place.

Because I was certain I would be discharged after some bloods, I had kept her with me.

But when I was moved onto a ward to undergo a CT scan and an MRI I knew I wouldn’t be found home soon.

But it was important that Fizz did…. She moved to the ward with me, walking beside the bed as I was transported.  The nurses took it in turn to take Fizz out for walks and wee’s … They even made her a makeshift bed of towels so she could be as comfortable as possible.

I think the nurses were most upset when Fizz was collected on Saturday morning to go off for a break with friends, where she could relax and not be worrying about me with all the noises and smells of the hospital.

I had been moved to the stroke ward, where I spent the weekend as I needed an MRI scan that wasn’t available until Monday morning.

I discovered that it was standard procedure to serve me soft almost puréed food.  Thankfully a friend had dropped off my Herbalife Nutrition shakes so that I could take care of my own food and actually enjoy it.

Monday morning saw my MRI scan followed by a visit from the consultant who explained that my results and scans showed no signs of stroke or TIA.

But with the continued weakness and numbness in my left side he could offer me no explanation of what it could be, as he explained his expertise was strokes.

Thankfully a friend was able to collect me and drop me home where it was great to be able to lounge on my own sofa.

For now I am to rest when I feel I need to, not push myself to do anything strenuous and hope my symptoms ease and improve.

As the title suggests, I am so very grateful I have not had a stroke.  But not knowing what this is means it’s hard to know how long recovery will take?  If I will recover?  And more importantly, not knowing what THIS actually is?

Do you like being Blind?

Sounds like a rude or harsh question; yet it was asked without any malice intent. It came from a little girl while I was visiting her school and doing and giving a talk about living with sight loss.

The teachers within the room took a sharp intake of breathe (I think it worried them slightly) However as this hadn’t been the first ‘curveball question’ I had received from the group I was already half prepareD for it. I started by thanking her for her question (while buying myself a little time to answer it)

“I wouldn’t say I like it….. But I wouldn’t say I hate it either. Because with my sight the way it is I have had the opportunity to do so many things that I am not sure I would have done had I been fully sighted.

But when I did I gave this answer (in a round about way-not sure I used these exact words)

I only took on the challenge of climbing because without being able to see my feet on the ground I knew that being high on a wall or mountain wouldn’t be an issue, as one of the ‘blind perks’ that lead to me trying it was that a fear of heights wasn’t an issue. The chance to pre-plan a route wasn’t there either. I climb mainly by feeling my way up the wall. And my feet often follow where my hands have already lead the way.

As my working life reduced. I began to work with different charities; through which I have gained so much, so much more than I could have achieved in my working life. I have also been fortunate to be there for my children more, and although I can’t see them as clearly in their school productions. We have had much more time together than I would have had had were my sight not decreased.

Yes there are times when I have dark moments. But anyone with or without sight loss has those, so I don’t think I am any different.

I have gained so much more enrichment to my life as my sight and now hearing has demisnished.

Being blind and hard of hearing is who I am and I just have to make the most of it.”

Maybe this was much more detailed and deep than I expected to share, but as I sat there with the class of children before me; I had a moment of reflection on my life and all the good things that have come from the small fact that I am loosing my sight and hearing.

Myth Bust: This blind girl CAN shop!

Today I had a very rough encounter with a shop assistant. A very quizzical, judgemental encounter….. But rather than be negative, this got me thinking; unless you have a visual impairment or live within close proximity to someone who does, this may be a common misconception that anyone of my readers may also hold.

So here in a series of blogs I am going to look at busting some myths and misconceptions. Now as my blog is all about me (selfish I know!) what I write here works for me and is my point of view. Sight loss has a MAHOOSIVE variant in the many that it affects, so what works for me may not work for another. After all VIs (Visually Impaired) are unique Human beings with their own individual characteristics.

I personally love to shop! Muse through rails of clothes, feeling the different texture. I find some shops easier than others, I also have my staple ‘go to’ shops for my essentials.

When I trained with my guide dog (both of them) it was explained to me about how a dog works in certain environments. How a dog works in a supermarket for example is different to how they work in a clothes shop. And most of this is down to how we as humans move around in said shops.

Mostly because of how the shops themselves lay out their stock. A supermarket is quite regimented, with aisles and shelving. Where as clothes shops work with rails, displays and a more ‘hap-hazard’ movable approach.

So, when in a clothes shop I do not ‘work’ my guide dog Fizz. By this I mean I do not hold her harness handle and ask her to guide me around….. Manly because we wouldn’t get past the first row of clothes as the space between rails isn’t wide enough for Fizz to work properly!

So once inside a clothes store I will simply hold her lead, I will keep her on my left hand side and I will use my right hand to feel my way around the store, feeling out mostly for the ends of rails that could cause me issues if I bump them.

The stores I frequent regularly are used to me and Fizz, they even know that at times she will just lay down if I am spending too long looking at a section! After all she is a dog; she has no need or interest in clothes!

But when we go into a different shop (which doesn’t happen often) the other shoppers (as today) and the staff appear amazed by it.

Today’s encounter saw me being asked to leave. And this was because the store assistant believed that I was not VI and that my guide dog was just a pet. (Despite her harness and all her ‘uniform’ stating she is just that)

The store assistant had watched me move around, touching the clothes, but that my dog was just walking behind me. I did explain the main reason for this was because the space between the clothes was only just big enough for me to walk in, let alone Fizz to walk beside me.

I explained how I am trained with Fizz and how dropping harness means she doesn’t have to be responsible for trying to navigate in such an unnavigable space. To which the store assistant became very interested and was then asking questions out of interest not judgement.

Another point to make is that clothes shopping isn’t a rushed affair (not for me anyway) So I take my time, I can focus using what little sight I have left on navigating my way around. It’s not ideal and at times it doesn’t always work. But it is making the best of the situation.

For me, I prefer to shop alone for clothes, not be rushed or concerned with someone else getting bored or fed up with me. So this is how I work around it. It’s a quirk and it is following my guide dog training; which means I can’t be the only person who does this.

After all VIs shop, VIs go out alone and VIs above all else, have their own minds.

Personally I would not consider going clothes shopping using my long cane. As most clothes are hung on rails a cane could alert me to the floor being clear, but won’t alert me to the tops hanging from a rail (if the lighting isn’t right for me to see) And for this reason I do understand why some VIs prefer to shop with others.

So, I hope you have enjoyed this Mythe bust? Feel free to comment below on this subject or other myths you may have questions about.

Just over there

‘Over there’ is a world of myths and legends, often where ‘that way’ can be found. (Or so I am told)

It’s a place where as someone with a visual impairment upon asking for the location of something I have been directed to MANY times.

“It is a place I have never found !!”

Usually such explanation to a location comes with a wave of a hand or arm, but rarely any eye contact from the person giving the instruction.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when such directions do come with eye contact, but due to other people or a counter my guide dog is often obscured.

I am more than happy to press the matter and ask for more detailed direction. And thankfully on most occasions it has been easily obtained.

But it reminds me of how we can all become so familiar with our environments that we forget that someone new (with or without sight-loss) may not find it so easy to navigate.

I know people get flustered giving directions; do they give it from their point of view or the person asking?

If it is a shop or business and you are the employee being asked for directions the easiest way to direct someone is to walk them there.

Asking if the person would like to take your arm, explaining to them when you are turning left or right and most importantly when you are walking through a doorway, even if the door is open.

I am thankful that Fizz will fall in behind someone guiding us and simply ‘follow’ but for me I like to have the verbal directions as it means that should the need arise I can find my own way if there is a next time.

Having previously gone up. Now it’s time to go down!

With my faithful-guide dog Fizz by my side (and guide-gal Vicky before her) I am able to travel to and around London with ease, the London Underground network is vast and with audio announcements and fantastic friendly staff (TfL) along with the odd app or 3 I have found I can stay largely independent in a network that often confuses those without additional needs.

I was first made aware of ‘The Tube Challenge’ in September 2018.  The challenge is to visit all 270 stations on the London Underground Tube network (not including dlr or overground) in the fastest time possible.

The current Guinness world record is held by Andi James, who completes the challenge in the fasted recorded time of 15 hours 45 minutes 38 seconds.

So when I asked if the challenge could be done with a disability, he took it onboard and now we are here.

On Friday 11th January 2019, along with Andi James as my sighted guide I will be aiming to complete The Tube Challenge.

Given the nature of the challenge, the endurance aspect and the travel, the public and the timings.  This is one day of tube travel where I will not have my guide dog with me.  Fizz will be enjoying the rest with her paws up, while I achieve my goal.

This in itself adds additional elements to completing the challenge with my cane and sighted guide.

We shall be starting early on the Friday morning, traveling through rush hour, navigating the tube network, swapping between lines that will see us travel above ground in addition to under it, traveling around some of the networks busiest station, heading through evening rush hour and the weekend get-away to achieve this.  All parts of which will hold its own challenges.

The gauntlet has been laid down, the planning has begun.  And now is where I ask for your support.

In addition to achieving this I wish to raise awareness of the freedom my guide dogs have given me.  It is in memory of my first guide dog Vicky that I wish to do this.  She sadly passed over the rainbow bridge on 2nd January 2018; having hung up her harness on 19th January 2015 when Fizz stepped into her paws.

And in raising awareness, I wish to raise money to name a guide dog puppy, a name that will mark the occasion.  A few names have been put forward once they are agreed I shall update this page accordingly.

Please can I ask you to dig deep, show your support.  Just-Giving-TinkOBell270

The 1st of the withouts

Yesterday marked the beginning of it.

Today compounded it even more.

What am I talking about?

I am talking about events and celbratitions about my first leading lady, the ‘original guiding girl’ Vicky.

On 15th October 2009 I met her for the very first time, she came with my GDMI Caroline to see if she could be the dog for me.  And it wasn’t known to me at the time, but today 16th October is her birthday; or rather WAS her birthday.

And as such today is the first time since she came into my life that she hasn’t been with me to celebrate this day.

Good Olde Facebook has reminded me of today with lots of photographs and happy memories.

And it is some of those I feel I would share with you in this post.

Vicky gave me so much and it is about remembering her today; not being sad that she is no longer here, rather be grateful that she came into my life.  Photgraph shows black flat tie x lab dog sat with a grey hat and scalf in front of a red sofa

Photograph shows Guide dog Vicky sat in harness in the lounge in front of the sofa, she is wearing a smile on her face.

 

Gosh, four years since The Gherkin

Photograph of The Gherkin building behind a church with the side of The Cheesegraer on the very left of the photo

Its hard to believe that Monday this week marked four years since I took on my first challenge….. The challenge to climb The Gherkin.

A challenge that took a twist when my CPiC and I decided rather than to climb the height between us, we would climb the height each.

All 180m.

For me, ‘The Gherkin’ was to prove (mostly to myself) that I could undertake that level of endurance.  For Simon it was a slightly different challenge; for him it was about climbing blindfolded.

A challenge that together, we improved upon in May 2017 when we chose another iconic and interestingly nicknamed building of London’s skyline when we set about the challenge of scaling all 225m of ‘The Cheesegrater.

So….. 180m up a gherkin, 224m up a cheesegrater.

What number could possibly come next?

Can you keep a secret?

What if I told you the number involved was 270?

What would your thoughts be?

I can also tell you that the next challenge WON’T be a climb.  However, it will very much involve LONDON.

 

Menacing about in Dundee

Fizz sat in front of a Mini the Minx statue on the street in Dundee

The story starts here The start of an adventure… 

Continued from … Peaceful Pitlochry

The train journey from Pitlochry saw another ‘quick dash’ out of Perth railway station to enable Fizz to have a comfort break and to arrive in a very different Dundee.

Not because since my last visit my sight has changed;  Not because my last visit saw me guided by my first guiding girl Vicky;  Rather because THIS Dundee had undergone a MASSIVE transformation that started with the railway station.

A railway station that reminded me so very much of Canary Wharf in London, with its long escalators, glass lifts, grand piano and open spaces.  Photograph of the front exterior glass of Dundee relailway station, with it’s large archway and inside/outside marching paving.

And it was in a very different place to the old station.  Instead of walking out of the station to seeing the RRS Discovery (The ship that Captain Scott took to the Antarctic) across the road, it was now surrounded by building works and to the right a rather large imposing building, that as of late September 2018 will be The V&A Museum Dundee.

Even my hotel was so new that when I looked on Google Street View it showed it as a building site!  But thankfully when I arrived, it was all there beside a lovely welcoming looking Beefeater.

With my room on the 3rd floor I looked out over The River Tay and across to Newport-On-Tay.  I spent the evening walking along the promenade and taking in the changes to the area.  I found several grass areas for Fizz and even introduced Fizz to The RRS Discovery and its penguins as you can see from the photographs.

Photograph of Fizz sitting in front of The RRS Discovery on the dock side

Pho graph of Fizz sat slightly infront of a life size statue of a penguin which sit amongst the paving beside The RRS Discovery

I enjoyed a relaxed unrushed meal in the Beefeater and took advantage of an early night, as my Friday was set to be a busy one.

For Friday I would be checking out of the hotel, but before returning to Glasgow to start my journey home I was catching up with more family.

As a place I have been to many many times before this is the first time I have been without my parents.  It is also the first time which I can remember that I visited The McManus Galleries; or rather The McMenace Galleries as they have temporarily been renamed.  After all Dundee is the home to The Bashstreet Kids, Desperate Dan and Denise the Menace, which are all celebrating their 77th year and heritage within Dundee.

Photograph of the graffitied museum sign taken on an angle with guide dog Fizz sat in front of it.

As a child I grew up with The Beano, so was enthralled to see how it has changed throughout the years.  Although I am not a fan of the latest ‘computeriised’ imagery that moves it away from its comic book strip format.

My wee cousins (actually my cousins children) were my tour guides, taking us around Dundee, walking among the old train lines that run along the now pedestrianised streets.  I even got the opportunity to leave my mark.  In signing my name and writing my gratitude on the six foot tall ‘THANK YOU’ had had only that morning been installed as part of the city’s commemoration to hero’s for this years D-Day Celebrations.

Fizz sat in front of a giant T as part of the THANK YOU installation, where I wrote my message of Thanks

Tall letters on plinths that say THANK YOU, with pictures of men and women who have fought for the country on the front, with the remaining sides left white for people to write their own messages of Thanks.

And from Dundee we travelled to another favourite haunt as a child when I would come to spend the summer with my Granny Lily…. We went off to Broughty Ferry, were we walked along a very blustery shore, saw the castle and then enjoyed a nice late lunch together.

Time ran away from us, we chatted, we remembered those family members who were no longer with us and we laughed at fond childhood memories.

Back in Dundee for one day was not long enough…. I shall most definitely be returning, making this my base next time.  So many more adventures to in this beautiful city I am sure…. At the very least I need to come back to see if the inside of the new V&A museum is as breathtaking as the exterior?

GETTING MY GEEK ON in Glasgow

Photograph of my gold Starbucks travel mug with the guide book to The Glasgow Science Centre with the SEC Armadillo building behind across the river Clyde.

Continued from … Welcome to Glasgow

After a relaxed evening in the hotel which included a Tai Chi class, a swim and a sauna before a gorgeous dinner, on Wednesday morninf I decided to visit The Glasgow Science Centre before embarking on another train journey deeper into Scotland (you’ll have to read on to find out where)

The Science Centre and adjoining iMax cinema were architecturally interesting buildings even before I walked through the doors.

 

Photograph shows a round ball like building on the left which is Glasgow IMAX with a large screen on the right of the photograph, with a small green area in front of it

Photograph is taken of the rear of the IMAX building where Starbucks sits amongst a glass wall sat beside part of an old dock areaPhotograph of the entrance to The Glasgow Science Museum, shoring what looks like the top half of a letter C shaped building, the glass front of the building sat to the right of the large screen

These building were custom built for purpose and opened to the public in June 2001, with a titanium clad exterior the Science Centre (science mall) with its crescent shaped glazing enables it along with the neighbouring imax to ‘blend in’ with the often grey overcast skies of Glasgow while offering a reflection from the river Clyde.

Set over three floors and including a planetarium and many interactive work station I could understand how it had gained its reputation and place on trip advisor as a ‘MUST SEE’ even though it was a pay for attraction (which many museums are not)

I fell in love with each and every floor.

Although I struggled with a few small issues (like no large print or alternative format maps or voice information on the lifts) I did find a very helpful member of staff who explained the floor levels to me and even explained where the stairs were as they were tucked away as the main traffic was directed towards the large lifts.

One perminant exhibit that I was interested in was ‘A Question of Perception’ that looked at optical illusions, the science behind it and how the human brain helps with this.  In addition to the illusions, I watched the cctv monitors for the centres own ‘wacky salon’ (you can find a video for this on YouTube, but as it is not accessible I have decided against sharing it here)

With interactive exhibitions across the whole centre, including a wonderful planetarium I enjoyed a good couple of hours here and took hundreds of photographs of the different exhibits, of which I will share just one with you.  This is of the ‘perfect triangle’ which from the angle of my photograph looks far from perfect.

Photograph of tabary - A mind blowing sculpture of a three part solid triangle, which is in fact an optical illusion and it is only when you get to within 2 foot of it that you see the sculpture is actulay 3 separate solid four sided rectangular, not actually a triangle at all.

However, too soon it was time for me to go, popping back to the hotel to collect my bags and head off for another train journey.

A train journey that saw me travelling from Exhibition Road to Glasgow Central, to hop on the shuttle bus to Glasgow Queen Street before boarding a train to Perth, where I would then change again (after a quick ‘wee stop’ for Fizz) to travel onto Pitlochry.

A place that could not be further from the hustle and bustle of Glasgow, with a population of just over 2,500 in comparison Glasgows 500,000….. It was a place I really couldn’t wait to escape to.

To be continued…….

HOO18 – Where Fizz got invested as a Cub Scout

Photo shows Fizz with her necked on and her left paw being held by the GSL as he said the Cub Scout promise

This past 5 days I have been wearing my scouting volunteer hat and been camping just outside Wareham with roughly 3,000 children and leaders for the Big Hampshire Event HOO18 which saw beavers, cubs, scouts and explorers from across the county come together to undertake a ‘Monster’ themed camp.

I volunteer within 1st Locks Heath Cubs and it was with my 1st Locks Heath Volunteer family that we had a ‘mini-camp’ within the bigger event.  We had cubs & scouts for most of the week and the smaller Beavers came for a sleep over and a day of activities too.  But we were contained within our own little area;  it is this one little detail that enabled me to go, to join in, to support and to enjoy 5 days and 4 nights at such an amazing event.

With the glorious weather we have been having it was only reasonable that we should arrive in rain on Sunday!  In fact, we had an impromptu stop at Nordon Mines because those leaders and support who had camped out on Saturday night had had to re-build part of our camp after strong winds brought some of it down.

Traveling with Fizz, I went in convoy with a fellow cub leader while the others were transported via minibuses.  When we did arrive to camp it was then that I was to set about pitching my tent. (Something I have done a few times now as you can see in A whole other challenge  ) only this time it was in the rain!

It was actually quite fun.  And having only replaced a dog chewed guy rope the week before I was grateful I had left my groundsheet and inner attached to the outer shell.

With a little help from another cub leader in getting my poles in I was quickly set up.  My tent having side doors was pitched on an angle (one to fit the space and two so the door faced the opposite tents where the children were sleeping) Our ‘mini’ camp was set up with a large marquee and kitchen tent, then children’s tents along one side, with leaders and support along the opposite, with each oth the top tents turned in slightly to create an almost enclosed horseshoe shape.

Each different group had an area like this to set up their own ‘mini’ camp within the camp although layouts varied.

As we had a large canvas marquee with just as large support ropes and guy ropes, an area around the marquee was fenced off with steaks and orange lattice style fencing.  This actually served an alternative purpose, this area gave Fizz an enclosed grass space where she could do her business and I was safe in the knowledge that should i miss picking up if it were dark, no child or fellow adult were going to stand in anything. (As it was she was very clever and kept alll that to daylight hours!)

First item on the agenda for camp is introductions.  We were each introduced to one another (children and adults) and then we went off to explore the bigger site, find our bearings and learn where the all important toilet and shower blocks were.

There was a designated disabled toilet and on our second walk out to if Fizz had it in her mind, knowing where the low tree branches were, where the tree stumps were and even where the boundaries of the camp beside us were.

She was doing so well.  Camp sites are not the easiest to navigate at the best of times; let alone for a guide dog.  A guide dog who is trained to walk on paths, to follow ‘shorelines’ or building lines and to work on clear commands.

I had the clear commands, but there were no buildings as such, I worked her to use the boundary of the camp beside us as a ‘shoreline’ but as for paths ….. It was a large grass field with some gravelled patches and wood chipped paths around the toilets, but very little ‘concrete’

Our ‘shorelines’ only failed when the camp beside us moved their boundaries.  This added to the fact that Fizz quickly came to realise that the camp beside us was one with whom we knew the leaders, we had previously camped out in their hut.  And she soon wanted to take me into their camp rather than around it !!  Teamed with the wonderful food smells that came from their shelter kitchen, I couldn’t completely blame her!

Being such a big camp, the activities were set for us.  There were different ‘zones’ with different activities laid out in each.  These zones were clear and easy to navigate.  The children within the section were sometimes put into teams, sometimes worked in pairs and on other occasions worked alone.  The activities included things like Zip-wire, Go-Ape, Zorbing, Spiderweb-climbing, crazy golf, escape room, dragon boat racing, water slides and even a type of ‘its a knock out’ inflatable arena to name a few.

The only downside was that the activities were for the kids only! I would have loved to have joined in.

As the days went on we moved around different zones, which added a new challenge.

By Tuesday the temperature had risen dramatically, we had erected additional shelters on our camp to ensure everyone had plenty of shade.

This meant Fizz too.

Before heading away I had sought advice from Guide Dogs and with some handy tips and ideas I knew the time had come to leave her ‘benched’ in camp while I used my all-terrain cane to accompany the children and leaders to their activities.

This made the kids laugh, my all-terrain cane has a large red disk on the bottom of a heavier set cane.  This makes it look a bit like a metal detector; but what it means for me is that it will glide effortlessly over rough paving and grass, indicating to me the divots and tree roots, but not getting caught on them.

Unlike Fizz, my cane can only tell me about the ground.  It can not tell me about tree branches and it can’t correct for a group of oncoming children.  So to say I caught a few of those low bracnvhes and bumped some (not many) of the on-coming children would be an understatement.

But this minor inconveniences to me meant that Fizz was safe, she was in shade, had a breeze, plenty of fresh water and no direct sun on her.

The kids within 1st Locks Heath quickly took to ‘looking out’ for me.  My own Pack of cubs were aware of me, but for some of the other groups cubs, beavers, scouts and even some of the leaders I was new and I imagine at times I was also confusing to them.  But without me asking they walked infront of me, they warned me of tree branches and they explained if there were any major tree roots or stumps coming up.  This was a very pleasant surprise to me, it made me feel at ease and as regular readers will know, anxiety goes hand in hand with my sight and hearing loss.

On Wednesday 01.08.2018 at 14:00 as a group we celebrated the 111th anniversary that General Baden-Powell held his first camp for boy scouts on Brownsea Island.  And in the evening at 18:00 we gathered together again as a group and this was when The Group Scout Leader invested Fizz into the Cub pack. Kieth the GSL took Fizz’s left paw in his left hand and read out the promise to her.  He did this with agreement and permission from the County Commisioner and District Commisioner who both believe that this is the 1st ever Guide Dog to be invested into a pack.

As it was felt by all that Fizz was an important part of the team and should be recognised as such.  She was even awarded her own necker, which I am to sew her badges from camp onto.

I managed to keep smiling during the investiture, but when it was over I found myself crying with pride and happiness at the way in which not only Fizz, but also how I had been accepted into the group.

Yes I have been an assistant leader within my Cub pack for just over a year, but I have always felt a little on the outside with regards to the other leaders because of my disabilities. (not intentionally, but just in how there have to be additional measures taken)

I saw a very different side to my fellow leaders and I felt that they respected me for being me and didn’t feel I was a burden to their camp, but rather a benefit. (Given the nature of my sight I am not able to count directly in the ratios for adults to children on camp-so they could have simply left me behind, but my knowledge of the kids, my perseption with the kids was felt to be important, so I was very much included)

The group I went away with made for a great experience.  I have never camped for more than 2 nights together, but barring the odd guy rope incident I managed to survive the 5 nights and 4 days I was away.

Taking my tent back down in glorious summer sun meant I knew it was dry, but it took three times as long to do.  For a tent on a hot day is no place to be; so I took it down in sections.  Resting and rehydrating in between each set.

Other cubs and leaders offered to help me, but I am a creature of habit and like to do things in my own way (but that’s for another blog!)

For now I am feeling tired and I am suffering with eye strain, but at the same time I am feeling happy.  I am finally feeling like part of a scouting family (which so many others talk of)

And I am a very proud guide dog mum.

Photo shows Fizz with her necked on and her left paw being held by the GSL as he said the Cub Scout promise

 

 

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