Jack Of All Trades

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Hahahaha I have fooled them again. Humans are so easy to trick.

We started in a new school this week which meant I was able to bring the wow factor to the school. The gasps of sheer delight that echoed around me in surround sound as I sashayed down the lengthy corridors towards our new counselling room gave me plenty of opportunity to let my presence be known, As I graced the space with my face, I knew that before long I would have my fan base increase from both teachers and pupils who would eagerly await me each week. They will probably be tolerant of the maid too.

As we settled into the new room for the day, there was a lot of commotion outside of the door. Through the small narrow glass panel that ran down the side of the door, many excited faces looked on in glee as they spotted my handsome self. The “there is a dog in the school, quick come and see” voices that spread up and down the corridor was music to my ears. Not wanting to disappoint, I ignored the maids request to get away from the door and instead I sat in front of the glass, turning my head one way and another to ensure that my best features were seen by all. The pupils loved it nearly as much as I did.

My first session went well, and the pupil fell in love with me (which was not surprising). As soon as the session ended and break time began, an even louder commotion erupted outside of the room, this time we heard pupils shouted to others to come and peek at “the therapy dog” in the room which I had to chuckle at. In the room I obviously do not have my guide dog harness on so that is all they saw is my fine physique sitting in front of the door and they assumed I was a therapy dog. It would not be the first time that I have been mistaken for a different type of working dog.

There was a time a few years back when we first started in schools that a group of boys thought that I was a police dog and the maid wound them up even more by saying that yes I was a sniffer dog and asked if they had anything to hide. Their silence was deafening until she put them out of their misery and admitted I was a guide dog. I did however try out as a trainee sniffer dog a couple of years back on a train when I met a delightful Spaniel police sniffer dog. As we rubbed noses as we met and she went off in the carriage to sniff out danger, I followed her too sniffing as I went much to the amusement of the police officer she was with. The fact that I was sniffing for dropped food (found, retrieved and disposed of it may I add) and the spaniel was sniffing for illegal dodgy stuff and ignored the food did not matter, I still tried my best.

In the past a lot of people have mistaken me for a therapy dog especially as I do not emit that stereotypical guide dog looks apparently but I love to be different. Therapy dogs are amazing and are just like all of us other working dogs who change peoples lives forever. The bonus that the children get with me is that they have counselling and pet therapy all at the same time and I love being of service to them. Whatever people want to think I am, I just want to keep putting a smile on their faces and brightening their day up as much as possible. If we can put a smile on a face and fill them with happiness, then that is all that really matters in the world. Hope you get a chance to do the same each day as it is the best job ever!

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Munch’s School Rules

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It’s that time of year again. Back to school.

I love September as it has that sense of newness about it as we enter a new academic year. For the last 42 years of my life, September has always felt like a belated New Year celebration. I have always been involved in education in one way or another. From leaving school at 19, going straight to college then university my own life in education never seemed to end. Add into the mix having four children (the first at 19 and last at 25) September has always been a fun but mad rush to get everything set for a new term. It may have been that September magnetic feeling that made me choose to go into my school-based counsellor job I have done for the last seven years, who knows? Munch however, I don’t think has the same passion as me when it comes to school life.

The above picture was taken after I gently told him that we are going back to school this week and now are going to work in four different schools throughout the week. I know what was going through his mind as I lovingly stroked him to break the news to him that after seven luxurious weeks of off duty lounging around, we now must return to work. A deafening sigh gave me the audible clue that this led balloon filled news would not make him happy at all as his sleepy days and free running time will be cut short as he slips his harness back on and is asked to work which he clearly wasn’t put on this earth to do. If he had his way, there are certain school rules that he would change which would go a little like this.

1. School should only be between the hours of 11am and 2pm and consist of hourly breaks.

2. School should be shut if it is too hot, cold, icy, snowy or if the weather is mildly irritating.

3. Staff members (not just me, his maid) should be the ones that listen to him and he can represent the wishes of the pupils in what is fair to be asked to do.

4. There should be more playtime and less classroom time.

5. Food should be allowed to be consumed ANYWHERE at ANYTIME.

6. All behaviour should be rewarded not punished, and the more mischievous the better,

7. The “no other dog in school ” rules can still apply as he wants to remain in the limelight and does not want any other dogs stealing it.

8. Playing ball should be allowed during lesson time and in the corridors.

9. Nap time is crucial for developing brains so is allowed whenever the need arises. The more education, the more needs for naps.

10. Stealing of panini’s and other food from unsuspected pupils should not be frowned upon but understood that sharing is caring.

We have talked through these rules that Munch wants to bring into school life and I have kindly told him that these will not be possible at this precise moment in time so for now, he has to adhere to the school rules that exist like everyone else. The hostile silence that he transmitted telepathically to me told me that he is not a happy bunny.

I know that that there will many a pupil that feels like Munch does when going back to school this year and I really feel for them. School can be such a difficult place for many especially those who have additional needs in school that make things twice as hard. It is so important for them to remember that life won’t always be like this as life goes on beyond school. Making the most of where we are in life at present is essential to help us get through the tough times.
Both Munch and I agree that as soon as we go back, we want to help our clients and the school communities in any way we can. From brightening the life of a lonely child at school who sees Munch and comes to chat, to being there wholly and unconditionally for a client who needs to talk We know that everyone needs to work together in this beautiful world.

Munch may not have the school rules that he really wants but he does have the main rule in life sorted. Kindness to others is a must and if this rule exists then everything else will fall into place.

The Last Laugh

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My maid is so easy to train, it’s laughable.

Here we are AGAIN on another photoshoot for a magazine article and she is expecting me to do as I am told. I have been in her life for over two and a half years now and she thinks that I obey her commands. Fair enough, when I am representing guide dogs with my harness on and we are out walking I will do my bit and act like the angelic guide dog that I am. As soon as my harness slips off however, I will return to my strong-willed authentic self. I will only act in ways that I find satisfying to my soul whilst off duty and I have certain conditions that I require to be met. This is especially true when I am asked to pose for photos and the staff don’t get it right first time around. Here are my requests for this photoshoot which I find totally reasonable. What do you think?

– I demand a long run around before the photoshoot to let my hair down. The cheeky maid says it helps relieve some of the mischief, but I just need her to run around after me to let her know that she will always be trailing after her real owner.
– I will only come back on my lead when I am ready and not when she is ready for me. Best thing come to those who wait so I am doing her a favour by making her wait so that she gets the best of me.
– I will send chills of panic down the spine of the maid and the photographer as I flirt with the idea of jumping in the river so that they will only be able to get the soggy doggy look and not the perfect picture that they are after. It was so funny to hear the sheer panic in their voices when they saw me dipping my paws in the river. I am all heart though as I only had a quick paddle before returning to the less hairy two-legged race.
– I work on treats alone. Mere compliments of me being such a good boy falls on deaf ears as I know I am good, so hand the treats over otherwise I will not be so good. I have the training down to a tee so that I will stay put for one treat and then move around for another one so that I am able to get multiple treats in a short space of time whilst the photographer shifts at lightning speed to get the perfect shot.
– I demand that I am always centre stage and if the maid must be in it, I will ensure that I will always look better than her.
– I require that I have ALL the “what a beautiful photo” comments directed at me if the maid is in shot as I am the one that gives the photo the wow factor.
– I will always work to bribes. At the end of each shoot I will require being pandered too and maybe taken for another walk, a play with a ball, have masses of fuss and an extra special treat of the humans forbidden food. If not, I will refuse to partake in another photoshoot ever again.

I must give the maid and photographer credit this time that they did adhere to my demands so it is likely that if I can fit them in for some more in the future if I fancy it.
The most rewarding photo that was taken today however was this last shot that the photographer captured. Just minutes earlier the maid had been lying down by the side of me for a photo of us both and she was not being professional as I and was taking her time to get it right. I thought enough was enough and I let out a few somewhat aromatic anal exhales that I had been keeping in for this perfect moment. She soon hurried up and got the poses right so that she could escape out of shot for some fresh air away from my exploding derriere.

I love having the last laugh.

Your Perfect Blurry Face

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As the mascara glides across the lower previously untouched lashes, the newness feels strange. Is it meant to feel like this? The fresh air that has always brushed alongside the pores on the skin is now being kept away by the foundation that is there to “enhance the look”. Lips that have never been dressed are now showing off the latest in lip fashion that catches the eyes of onlookers. Transforming from a make-up free face that has been this way for over four decades, to a face that looks like it belongs to someone else brings about a cocktail of emotions that is strange to say the least.

Mud pies, Halloween face paint, camouflage and masks have all felt temporarily at home on a face that is comfortable in its own skin. Make-up however does not. When you have never seen a face in real life, you cannot tell what natural beauty is, and what is “enhanced to bring out your natural features” by using make-up. The blurry faces that I have never been able to see clearly I am sure look best as naked as the were born to look, but many would not agree. I hear make-up gives people confidence to feel like they can face the world and show their beauty off which must be lovely for them, but I don’t think I will ever feel this way.

Being blind does not stop you wearing make-up and there are many talented people with sight loss that are so beautifully creative with their make-up. I don’t think however I will ever be one of them. Being asked to wear make-up for a media photoshoot took me totally out of my comfort zone and let me dip my toe into a world that masses live in daily, where hours are spent applying all types of enhancers to their already perfect face. My inner rebel really wanted to protest but I did it and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. It helped that the make-up and hair artist was such a beautiful and interesting person that I could have listened to all day and I learnt so much from the wisdom that she spoke of.

Leaving the make- up on for a couple of hours after the make – up artist and photographer left was a lesson I was trying to learn on patience as I stayed with the uncomfortable feeling of the intruder on my face. My family loved the “new me” and my adorable granddaughter said a few times how beautiful I looked but deep down I felt the opposite. Whereas many people love to look glamourous after magic is worked by such talented make-up artists, I never really hear about the other lot of people who feel the exact opposite. Social media is not full of these people who love the more natural look that I can relate so well with.

The beauty in this world is that we are all different and nobody is right or wrong, they are just themselves. Make-up may not be my thing, but I get how it can make people feel more beautiful to the outside world and we are both right. As I touch my make-up free face, I feel blessed that my sight loss allows me to see the insight into every person’s beauty that lays beyond what the eyes can see. To me, you are pure beauty regardless if you have a muddy face, exquisite make-up on or are as natural as the day you were born. Keep shining your beauty in your own unique way.

Are You Talking About Me?

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She is at it again. Speaking on my behalf. I am Munch and I am the real owner and should be listened to, not the maid. She may have physically written the book, but it is I who is the inspiration to write the book and its my telepathic abilities that got her to type out my thoughts. Does nobody see this?

I have had interest about the book and interviews coming out of my floppy ears recently and don’t get me started on photos that everyone wants. Being such a handsome Labradoodle is no doddle, it takes a lot of effort to look this good, but I must keep my fans happy, so I am willing to look as gorgeous as possible especially when the media are around.

Last week the maid was interviewed about how I had changed her life and brought spiritual meaning to her by Spirit & Destiny magazine which will be out in January of next year. She did big me up in that interview which I was pleased about and we have just been for some photos to send off to the magazine which shows all my good sides.

Earlier on this week, I had a journalist travel seven hours on trains to come to interview me, but I let the maid do the talking as I casually snoozed curled up on the sofa next to her acting my usual angelic self. The journalist had read my book and the things that the maid had written about my mischievous self were obviously hard for her to believe as I behaved impeccably in front of her. I have a photoshoot with the rest of the staff (or the maid and the rest of the family as they like to be addressed) later this week to accompany this article that will appear in a few weeks in the Femmail section of The Mail.
I have another radio interview scheduled with Hay House Radio the day before my book in released so as you can see. I have been a very busy dog.

Unfortunately, I must rely on the hired help to speak on my behalf and she sometimes tells of funny stories I would rather we forget about. I am using my innocent eyes to try and tell people of my perfection and to ignore the true stories that the maid is saying and try and convince them she is exaggerating but shhhh please don’t tell anyone of my pleading eyes tricks. I will also be acting like the well-trained dog that I am meant to be in front of people which may be difficult to keep this act up for a long time, but I will try my best. I am even planning on listening to what is asked of me and obeying it in front of these important people, but I am not sure if this is a step too far for my innate stubborn self.

My plan is to ensure that everyone will believe that I am as innocent as my face looks, do you think it will work? I have five weeks before the book is out so I will try not to “accidentally borrow” another tennis ball from a shop, do any more dodgy doggy cuddles between strangers legs or be a panini thief in the run up to it to avoid bad press. I solemnly swear to allow Angus to eat some of his cat food and not take it all, keep the eye rolls to a minimum and not run off with another dogs ball for at least another five weeks to ensure that I will only been seen in a good light. Who knows maybe I will decide to write my own book about the maid then to tell of all her naughty ways which would be a good read I promise.

I am just off to perfect my look of innocence. What ever other people say about you just remember your inner angel and let it shine out for all to see.

Minster, a.k.a…….

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Minster may be his official name as he was kindly sponsored by Lincoln Minster Prep School but deep down, he will always be my little Munch.

Nicknames are funny little things that usually have stories behind them that only those close to them know the reasoning behind them. The nickname Munch came about after his trainer spoke of his love for anything edible (and non-edible) and it’s kind of became a gateway into other nicknames that have stuck. Here is a brief list of some of the other nicknames that Munch goes by…

1. Angel Delight (because he is when he is sleeping).
2. Baby cakes (he will always be my baby).
3. Beyoncé (as he struts around like her).
4. Chihuahua wannabe (when he is acting like lap dog).
5. Clown (as if he wasn’t a guide dog, he would be entertaining crowds in a circus).
6. Drama king (Just stating the obvious).
7. Einstein (due to his lookalike eyebrows and his intelligence).
8. Fluffy face (when he needs a haircut).
9. Great oaf (due to his clumsiness).
10. Guru (he teaches me new life lessons each day).
11. Hairy bear (self-explanatory).
12. King Munch (let’s be fair, he is).
13. Lord and Master (quite rightly so).
14. Lazy Bones (he cat naps more than Angus who is a cat).
15. Mischief maker (the best around).
16. Monster Munch (if he was a pack of crisps, he would be cute scary ones).
17. Munch Bunch (tasty like a yoghurt).
18. Munchkins (his child like nature).
19. Munchkin Mop tops (thanks to his mop of hair).
20. My owner (I know my place in the relationship).
21. Precious (due to his delicate nature).
22. Rebel (he doesn’t do rules).
23. Sloth (which is like his usual pace in life).
24. Smelly Bear (from his awful anal exhales).
25. Sugar cube (due to his sweet nature).

May I just add, I always give him a kiss and a belly rub when I am calling his these as not to offend him and most of the time say it in my head not to create a show down where no doubt he will win. I know he must have a few nicknames for me but many may be unprintable as I am sure I can hear them slip out when he is rolling his eyes at me and sighing at me to tell me exactly what he thinks of me asking him to move his body into an upright position.

If I ever confuse you by referring to him by different names I do apologize. Everything I call him always comes from a place of unconditional love that I have for him and his quirky ways. I feel blessed to have met all these sides to him and I know I will continue to meet more as time goes on and I cannot wait.

The Growing Fluffball

Once upon a time there was a little cute fluffball called Minster who was destined to be a guide dog although he didn’t know it at the time. Four of his siblings from the same litter of eight also went on to become super intelligent guide dogs who would change the lives of the people that they were matched with in extraordinary ways. Little Minster (or Munch as he was later to become affectionately known as) was the mischievous one in the litter.

Not a day went by without him upping the stakes in the mischief department and he soon had people falling in love with his impish ways. As he was taken from his black Labrador mother Hetty and cream Canadian Poodle Pringle and taken to train as a super guide dog, he took with him the beautiful temperament and spirit of both of his parents into his new life. He added his own flare to what was expected of him in guide dog training life and ended up with a cocktail of charisma.

As his fur turned from pure black to added wisdom strands of grey and white, he began to look more and more grown up and some even said he was distinguished. As he kept his dog walkers and trainers on their toes by prancing from one flower bed to another and playing a tug of war with his friend with a net curtain that ended up in two, they sighed with relief as he went to sleep each night. His angelic looking face began to save him from many a cross word and kept him in peoples good books by the skin of his teeth.

When he was finally old enough and trained enough to be matched up with a person to become the professional working dog that he had spent months training for, the universe had a chuckle at what lay in store for the pair of them. The “non-blind looking” woman and the “non-conventional looking” guide dog both had similar clumsy, unique and quirky personalities that loved feeling different to others but perfectly matched to one another. Mishaps occurred from day one in either and sometimes both of their lives at any given time, but that just added to their sense of oneness.

Munch’s less hairy two-legged maid that she soon became known as, had always tried to stay away from the limelight whereas Munch basked in it as much as he could which strangely enough balanced each other out. As they both grew older and wiser together with grey wisdom strands decorating their hair, they happily reflected on all the fun that they had had together over the last two and a half years and looked forward with excitement for many years ahead together.

From then to present day, Munch may have changed a lot in appearance, but his personality will always remain the same. His attention seeking behaviour will never change and neither will his sense of mischievous adventure which I love. His true self will always be the thing that makes people fall deeply in love with him and him in love with them as his unconditional love never falters. Munch will always be the little furball that steals my heart each time I am with him, regardless how much he ages. Thanks, Hetty and Pringle for sharing your beautiful ways to create such a masterpiece of mayhem. ❤

The Embarrassing Penguin

Here I am a well trained and highly esteemed guide dog that has an image to uphold being lumbered with an embarrassing penguin. The shame of it all.

I used to refer to her as the maid but since she had that knee operation she has become less maid and more penguin as she does not walk in an acceptable manner trailing behind me but in a kind of lop sided waddle which I have to admit is an embarrassment. The physio said that she should use the crutches up to four weeks after the operation but oh no, the stubborn penguin says that they are getting in her way of walking and apparently it is difficult to use them and be guided by me the same time. I thought she always said that she could multitask but clearly, she can’t.

The embarrassing penguin originally told me that I had a few weeks off work out of my harness but she had gone back on her word and after only two and a half weeks she pleaded with me to go back in harness so that she could go out and about as she is getting too bored. She had no consideration for my image as she hobbles alongside me awkwardly. The looks of disdain that I give to her over my shoulder are lost on as she cannot see me anyway. This is not the standard of employment that I signed up for. I was promised the world not a wonky waddler with a dodgy knee.

I suppose on the brightside I have been able to start seeing my regular fans and make some new ones now that I am back in harness, working it like Beyoncé. The adoring fans have been welcoming me back into their shops and communities saying how much they have missed me (which is a given) and they are glad I am back brightening up their day. That is one of the upsides of my life I suppose as I get to go where other dogs don’t which means I get a lot of fuss, attention and ego strokes. Add all of this together with my new haircut and I am getting a lot of deserved love.

The embarrassing penguin on the other hand is getting lots of questions asked too which I don’t think is really warranted. Ok, she had knee surgery, but I was the one who went to the hospital with her on the day to put a smile on the faces of the staff members. I was the one that started off the topic of conversation with everyone from the anaesthetist to the porter not her. I was the one that they asked to come back sooner than planned as they were missing me. That’s all she did was lay there, have an operation and adopt a temporary funny walk.

I am hoping as the days go by and the embarrassing penguin is learning to bend her knee more and return to normal gait that my credibility will return. I know you will be sympathising with me and my current predicament, but rest assures I am pushing the embarrassing penguin to transform back into the humble maid as recovery happens. Lucky I am such a patient and thoughtful dog, otherwise she would be waddling like a penguin alone and not with such a handsome fella as myself. She is one lucky penguin.

Power Saving Mode

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Who doesn’t like a lazy summer day where the pace is slow and the good times flow? Moods seem more uplifted and people use this natural boost of Vitamin D to energise their days to connect with nature and make the most of the outdoors. Al fresco eating is a must as being indoors all day seems to be a waste. Tans and topped up and beach ready bodies that have been worked on for months are on show for all to see. The sun worshipers among us, need no prompting to lounge around in the sun and make the most of it whilst it is here.

Then there are the other types of people in the world that avoid the sun at all costs. The ones whose energy is zapped by the blazing bad boy in the sky who cannot seem to fire on all cylinders in this hot weather. Eating outdoors is a definite no unless they want to share their food with flies, wasps and other winged intruders who always seem to be buzzing around taunting them. The pale skinned among us who turn an impressive shade of lobster dare not leave the house unless they are smothered in sun cream as past experiences of horrific sun burn are etched into their memory. The sun protesters are the ones that dread stripping off the layers in this torturous season of heat. Seeking out a shady breeze is what keeps these people sane during the insanely hot season.

Munch kind of lays in the middle of these two groups of people. He loves the ideology of the first group where lounging around is a necessity and he is also rather partial to a little bit of al fresco eating especially where dropped BBQ food occurs. The other part of him however must side with the later lot that seeks the shade of the sensible. His hairy warrior like body does not last long in the sweltering heat so he needs constant fanning down and feeding of treats. His own designated paddling pool does not really get used for its purpose and he refuses to get into it so uses it as a constant drinking bowl to keep him hydrated.

As with most dogs in this heat, we don’t go out unless it is first thing in the morning or last thing at night to protect him from the heat which goes in well with my current restrictions on mobility after the knee op. Combine this with his delayed haircut as it was too hot in the groomers for the dogs, then we have a great excuse to be on power saving mode for the next couple of weeks.

Munch is napping at Olympic standards and I am using the free time to write like a serial writer. Whereas the power saving mode is beginning to annoy me slightly as I like being active, it seems like Munch is falling deeper and deeper into this new pace of life.

As he snores and I tap away at the laptop, I think this is the universes way of preparing us for a busy few months ahead of us from September onwards. Where other people will be entering the natural slowing of the pace that happens in Autumn, we will be picking up the pace and being the odd ones out. Learning to surrender to a slower pace of life has not been easy but it is what it is. Recharging batteries whenever we can in the year allows us to reboot and reenergise when we most need it to help us live the life that is waiting for us. However you are spending these sunny days, enjoy what they bring as much as you can.

The Pain Appreciation Club

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If I started a pain appreciation club do you think anyone would join? Maybe I need to tell you the rules of the club first before you decide.

Rules
1. You must be able to accept that this pain that you are experiencing is here for a reason.

2. You must allow yourself to shout, scream, swear and shake at any given time when the pain is at its worse but when the pain eases even for the briefest of moments, you thank it for the break.

3. You must be able to believe that life will not always be like this as what can appear can also disappear.

4. You must know that there are many others in this world that have experienced the same pain as you and even greater pain and they may hold the key on how to help ease this pain in the most peculiar of ways.

5. You must be kind to yourself and allow all your feeling to be felt and never ignore them.

6. You must not only find the reason why the pain is here but also making the changes in your life that the pain is asking you to make.

7. You must learn new parts of yourself that you may have never met before.

8. You must never accept that there is only one way to heal as the best way to deal with pain is your own personal way,

9. You must thank the pain when you are ready for all the lessons that it has brought you.

10. You must know that there will be a different relationship with your pain when you learn to have a different relationship with yourself.

Whether physical or emotional pain, we always have a choice on how we deal with it. When pain first storms into gate crash our once pain free life, we may not rush in to give it a big welcoming hug, but we do need to listen to what messages it is bringing us.

Appreciating pain is not as bizarre as it sounds as it can bring about strengths in us that we never knew we had. Resilience, appreciation of the simple things in life, discovering inner strength and finding your new limits can all follow an encounter with pain.

If you are not ready to join the pain appreciation club just yet that is fine but maybe you could try and pick a few of the points to work on to help cope with this intruder better. Speedy healing sent to you from The Pain Appreciation Club ❤