Three weeks ago we welcomed a new arrival to our family. She’s very quiet, only eats twice a day and poops when I tell her to. She’s fitted into our family like she’s always been here and, despite the copious amounts of hair she leaves behind her, I wouldn’t swap her for the world. Button’s Assistance Dog, Bonnie, has arrived!
We got the call on 3rd August (just as I was heading out to Tesco – one shoe on and one shoe off!) that Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind had a possible match for us, and I went to Cork for my week of training on 22nd August. In between those two dates, we made a quick trip to Cork to meet Bonnie for the first time. Button’s attachment (where we use a belt around his waist and clip it on to a lead attached to the dog) went very well, so it was all systems go!
We (there were three other parents with me on the course) got our dogs on the Monday morning and from that moment on they were with us 24 /7. Whether we were going to the loo, getting a cup of coffee or running back to our room for something we’d forgotten, our four-legged pals were never anywhere but at our side.
I have a confession to make. Until that day in August, I had never even walked a dog, let alone got on a bus with one! But our fabulous trainer made everything so simple and straightforward, there was never one moment that i felt like I couldn’t do this or that I was doing things wrong. We did walks around housing estates, in parks, in shopping centres and in the country. We took a bus and ate in a restaurant. We encountered traffic, other dogs, swans, bikes and lots of people. We took lifts and stairs. And we walked our little legs off.
I have to take a moment to mention how wonderfully kind everyone in IGDB is. The trainers, the kennel staff, the housekeeping team and the administration team all went out of their way to make us feel welcome. I have never encountered such a lot of hard-working, dedicated people. There really are no words to describe them. They are fab!
Even before we arrived home, Bonnie was making a difference to Button. He was really excited about her coming, and Button very rarely gets excited about anything. He also started to pretend he was a dog – a huge step for our little man! But since we got back, things are getting better and better! Button has asked to bring Bonnie to the shop (usually a trip to the local shop involves a lot of persuasion and the promise of a packet of crisps), his anxiety levels have reduced and we’ve already managed 2 or 3 outings that would have been difficult, if not impossible BB (Before Bonnie).
But forget for a moment that Button is now safe when we go out and that he is becoming less anxious. Forget the blue jacket and all the attachment paraphernalia. A much more important event has happened in our lives since the arrival of this wonderful animal.
Button has a friend.