My shadow that I have, never lets me feel alone. Solitude is a far distant memory as my shadow is omnipresent and never leaves my side. Day and night, throughout the seasons my shadow comes with me to places that other shadows are rarely allowed to go. My shadow never goes unnoticed by others, as it refuses to blend in and demands to stand out. My funny little shadow knows how to work it for the crowds.The hair of my shadow never looks pristine but takes on a more natural untamed look. It likes to move freely without any restrictions as the free spirit moves merrily through life. The shadow side steps a mundane way of life to search out a more mischievous way of being.You will always find my shadow going a different way than others, as predictability shrivels up the passion that lies within.The thing is, my shadow has more legs than me and a tail whilst I have none. My shadow is a he whist I am a she. I am only bilingual whereas he is trilingual and understands both human and non-human speech. My shadow sleeps whilst I am awake, but we can both come together to have some fun. He craves the attention wherever he goes whereas I love to just people watch even though I cannot see.Munch, my favourite shadow is always by my side and it feels like we have been in each other’s lives forever and not just the three short years since we were paired together. Wherever I turn he is there and feels like my guiding shadow who is never far away. His infectious loving ways means that there is never a moment to feel alone even when we step into the sighted world where I sometimes feel like an outsider.Guide dogs are more than just practical help in life, as they guide us to places within ourselves that we never knew existed. He makes the unpredictable sighted world more predictable as he leads me safely to places that I never would have found without him.With only the requirement of food and non-stop fuss, my shadow gives back the pure unconditional love that would make anyone feel blessed.Wherever you find your guiding shadow, remember to tell it how amazing it really is as without it, you wouldn’t be the person that you are today.
It is the little things that we do in life that means the most. A sweet loving gaze given to a lonely old soul can make a person feel noticed in an isolated world. The universal language of smiling will always be welcomed wherever you are in the world so smile away to keep connected wherever you may be. A lively hello can lift the vibration of a person filled with sadness and help them to remember a different way of life. Whatever that little thing you do for someone else will always be the right thing if it comes from a place of love.
Munch always does his own little thing in his own little way whenever he can. The day that the above picture was taken, we had just had a heavy day in work. Working as a counsellor is an amazing and rewarding job but with it also brings a lot of sadness. Listening to children talk about the hardships that they are facing in life is never easy to hear as I just want to wave a magic wand for them to make it all better. Deep down I know that this will pass, and life will get better. but I feel the deep pain that they are carrying around with them which is the worst feeling ever.I may not have a magic wand for the clients to use but I do have a magic weapon that helps them escape from their sadness even if it is just momentarily.
My hairy secret weapon called Munch, gives them permission to feel secure pain in a non- judgemental way. Giving them his hairy body for them to cry into is only one of the ways he likes to help. As they snuggle their faces in him and soak him with tears, he becomes the rock that they need at that moment. He gives them his heart as freely as he gives them his paw to greet them into the world of friendship forever. He raises a laugh from a place long forgotten when he puts on an act that he known will help.
From chasing his tail to preforming the dying fly, he takes them out of their own world and into another where problems don’t exist. He gives them his toy to make them play fetch but makes them do all the fetching just to keep them on their toes. Whatever he can do to lift their spirits, he will do it with passion. The beauty of animal healing never fails to raise spirits as they come from a place of love where nothing, but perfection exists.
As we sat on the floor together that day, with him partly on my lap, it felt like we were both reflecting on a day that we made little differences to our client’s lives. It felt like Munch was born to help others in his quirky little ways that filled his heart with as much joy as the recipients. He would not suit every guide dog owner as his Drama King stubborn qualities do not suit everyone but to me, he is just perfect. His little things in life make up a whole package of perfection that I hope will never be forgotten.
Your little things in life make perfect memories so keep them flowing for a better world.
They say wishes don’t come true if you tell everyone about them, but I know I can trust you lot to keep my wishes to yourself. It’s not only humans that can have wishes in life. Fellow canine companions and other non- human species have wishes just as much as the two legged less hairy human race. Here is what I am hoping 2020 will bring into my life.
1. More rest
The maid still insists that I must accompany her to work. Some days I am in harness for over an hour in total which mean I am only harness free for 23 hours. I will work on the maid to decrease this and will request a chauffeur (a sighted one may I add) driven buggy to travel in to save my poor legs.
2. More play
For some strange reason, stealing socks and blankets from the humans in the house is not their version of play. They clearly need to rethink how they see play and incorporate more of my version of play. I will encourage Angus the cat to allow me to chase him, but he is not allowed under any circumstance to chase me back. A new play manifesto will be distributed to all to follow my new way of life.
3. More gourmet meals
When I first arrived in this home, I was only allowed the strict diet that guide dogs are meant to be on with only carrots for treats. Slowly but surely, I began to change this and began to use my handsome charm to share some of the food that the staff ate. I have broadened my palate now and am able to encourage the maid to share her meals with me by placing my head lovingly on her lap to let her know I am there and waiting. I have even encouraged the extended family to cook nutritious food especially for me when I visit so I will continue to do this. My boring diet will be a thing of the past.
4. Less shopping.
If there is no doggy aisle in a shop, I am not interested. I have learnt over the years which shops are for me and which are not. I have voiced my findings to the maid and she is well aware of where I will be accompanying her too and which ones she will have to take her long cane too. I can sniff out a clothes shop form miles away which I will not go to as I do not need clothes to make myself look handsome so I refuse to go in. Our shopping trips are getting shorter and I am getting happier so let this continue.
5. More attention
With looks like this how can anyone resists a stroke or 2? I know my harness says do not distract but with a face like this let’s be honest I am the one doing the distracting. I am sociable and so are humans, so it makes sense if we are sociable together. In return they can have a doggy kiss and I will leave them with some of my lush doggy hair attached to their clothing. I am aiming to spread more doggy hair to strangers this year.
6. More ball thieving.
Let’s be honest, why play a one-sided ball game when you can play in pairs. When I see a dog with a ball, it is my duty to run off with it to create a game of chase and keep their loneliness away. I sniff out a ball from quite an impressive distance away so if it is unattended, it is mine. I will give it back if I must, but I go by the finder’s keeper’s etiquette of ball play so be warned. I see more ball possession in 2020.
7. Less restrictions
I am aiming to have less restrictions this year placed on me. Apparently, I am not allowed to sit on the comfy chairs in work but as my previous posts have shown, I do anyway. I am intending to eat more of other people’s food if the fancy takes me (like the time a pupil’s panini ended up somehow in my mouth) as sharing is caring. I intend to leave my snug fitting harness at home more and go out for more free runs with my dog walking buddies and run like the free spirit I was born to be.
8. Give more healing
I know that the world is not all about me and if I see a sad soul, I am the first there to heal them. I lick away tears, snuggle into lonely arms and fill empty hearts with the love they are looking for. My goal this year is to spread the Munch affect on as many people as I can in whatever way I can. A happy world is a happy me, so I will create happiness in places of sadness and help to change as many lives as I possibly can.
9. More travel
I like to explore places with my ever-ready nose and eager eyes. I love to smell the lamp posts of new places to find out things in the local doggy newspaper. Last year we had to travel quite a bit for interviews about the book that I dictated to the maid to write and I hope we will travel more this year. Nothing beats a comfortable hotel pillow that I am not meant to be sleeping on but always do anyway.
10. More paw prints left on people’s hearts.
I hope to leave my paw prints in places I have yet to discover. Not only in physical places where I can leave my yeti like prints but also on the hearts of people that I will meet. We animals are the magic that is needed in people’s lives to help them discover another way of seeing the world. If humans could see the world through our eyes, then their tail ends would be wagging like ours. You too can leave your prints on people’s hearts in your own unique ways.
I know all of these will manifest for me as I put the work in so they cannot fail. I hope your hard work pays off this year for you to get your wishes too. Happy New Year from my heart to yours.
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a Munch.
Maybe it was the stolen ham sandwiches that had lay in his reach, that made his body resemble a peach.
All round and hairy he lay in the way and was too full to even attempt to play.
Until that was, his best friend came along and started to sing him an encouraging song.
His ears pricked up and he gazed at her face, wanting her to come and rest in his space.
A bond like this, warms even the coldest of hearts, especially when their mischievous adventure starts.
Mix the energy of a three-year-old child and a labradoodle together and there is one thing that you will never hear and that is peace and quiet. Their mischievous footsteps that fail to tiptoe through the house means that they are in pursuit of happiness. A thrown ball here and a shared pack of crisps there, makes two beautiful souls come together and fill each other with joy.
My beautiful granddaughter was only nine months old when our almost Shetland pony sized Munch became part of our family and I wondered how they would get on. I need not have worried as it is as if their silent glances to one another communicated that they saw the world in the same mesmerising way. They loved people, loved affection and were rather partial to food. Isn’t that the bases of any good friendship? To them, it was.
The old souls that lived within each of them felt like they have lived before alongside each other in a previous life as they knew each other so well. As Munch lay stretching his long body out on the floor, my granddaughter would crawl with maturely around him not wanting to disturb him. From the first stroke that she gave him with her cute dimpled hand, she was soft and lovingly gentle and never rough. Munch in return was the gentlest of giants with her.
He always greeted her with kisses and would follow her around like a shadow. If she cried, he ran to her to see how he could help and did not leave her side until she was better. He climbed onto the bottom of the bed where she slept when she was older and remained there with Angus the cat to be the pair of bodyguards that every girl needed. The sound of her voice on the phone would set his helicopter tail off wagging in excitement as he heard his best friend. This was just the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Fast forward three years on and their friendship is unbreakable. She calls him her baby boy and ensures that he has everything that he needs. On Christmas Eve she tucked him in and told him to go to sleep early ready for Santa to bring him his present. As she placed his heart pillow underneath his heavy head, she whispered “I love you so much Munch”, to which he gave her a doggy kiss in return. There may never be much peace and quiet with these two around when they are together but there is always peace and love in their own shared world. What else could I ever wish for on Earth?
However, you spent your holidays, I hope that you found your own version of peace somewhere. Love and blessings.
Being in the company of a sighted person can sometimes feel like I am in the company of a Superhero. They see things that I can only imagine exists, the describe things that are so vivid that it makes my eyes see what they are talking about, and they turn the blurry hazy world into a world of sharp clarity. On this day it was the eager eye of a teenage client that spotted that there was an intruder on Munch’s paw that nobody had noticed up until that point.
Mid-session, she noticed from over ten feet away that he had a lump on the top of his paw. This was a miracle to me as how anyone can see in that detail astonishes me and I was grateful that she picked it up. A thank you did not seem much to say for noticing something that I had failed to do. If it was on his body, I would have picked it up when he had his morning massage (as he obviously needs bless him) but failing to notice this lump on his paw left me feeling guilty. On a positive note it had been found and it reminded me that maybe I needed to include his paws in his daily massage too, so a win-win situation came out of it. A swift phone call to the vet later and we were booked in for later that day for a quick check up. A quick check up of the paw later and it was decided that he may have to have it removed depending on what The Guide Dogs charity decided as although he is whole heartedly a member of the family he still belongs to the charity. We heard three days later that he had the go ahead for the operation to remove the cyst and for investigation to see what this intruder thought it was doing on his paw.
His operation went well and a week later we found out that all was well, and it was just from an exotic sounding infected in-growing hair. The vet who had been practicing for several years had never heard of it before Munch trotted into her office but that day, she had learnt something new thanks to high maintenance Munch. After the operation, for ten days, we tried to rest him as much as possible so that his stiches wouldn’t burst, or an infection wouldn’t set in due to his licking as he wanted to heal it naturally. A cone of shame was giving to us by the vet, but it felt so cruel to put it on him as he kept walking into everything like a drunk dog. With his uncoordinated mobility we just had to keep him under constant supervision not to lick his wound, so I was ever vigilant in the hearing department whilst the sighted in my life were on look-out duty. It also meant that he had a blissful few days off work and I downgraded to my long cane to get around (which was a little less cute to look at).
We were due to be on Radio 4 Saturday Live the day that his stiches were being taken out but due to an infection that he picked up a few days earlier, we were unsure if he would be able to travel to London with me for the show. I prayed to the angels. The universe and any other source that would listen to me that the star of the show would make it with me as his appointment was only an hour and a half before the train was due. The angels, universe and other beauties in the world delivered the best news ever and he was fine to come with me to make his third radio appearance to promote his (sorry our) book What You See When You Can’t See. A two hour and forty-minute train journey later and we were in London ready to appear the following morning on the show with some amazing guests alongside his Lordship.
If it hadn’t been for the sweet client who told me that he had a lump on his paw as she knew I would not have been able to see it, he would not have had it removed and I will always be eternally grateful to her and all of the other sighted people that help us in the world. If it hadn’t been for my loving beautiful daughter Korisha coming to London with us, I would not have been able to appear on such a great show. If it hadn’t been for so many sighted people asking what it was I could see then I wouldn’t have written the book that gives one account of what sight loss is like. Thank you to the sighted world that make the sight loss world easier to live in, you truly are my Superheroes.
Others come into our lives for a reason, season or a lifetime. When they arrive, they can ignite parts of us that have been long forgotten for a variety of different reasons. Having them enter your lives can also make your fears and worries disappear. Both things happened the day I met Munch, or as I knew him back then as Minster.
When the body of a warrior, the wisdom of a sage and the mischievousness of a child manifested before me three years ago in the form of this Labradoodle, I became a different version of me. Stroking his head gently for the first time helped me connect to his loving energy that he filled the room with. This feeling right here, was the feeling of unconditional love that I had always felt within. His strength was a strength that I knew and had used throughout life. His wisdom helped me to connect to the source within myself and everyone else in the world that always knew the answers to their own problems if they quietened the mind enough to hear them. His mischief was my mischief that had always lightened life where others chose to see darkness. Minster really was a soul match made in heaven.
The teeth that had clenched when asking for help in the form of a guide dog was now a distant memory as I wondered why I had not done it before. Keeping sight loss to myself seemed natural as I knew no other way. Being born with sight loss feels like normality as you learn to navigate throughout life in ways that may seem strange to the sighted, so why would you need to ask for help as your way seems to be working. That is until it stops working. I am so thankful for the injuries and mishaps I went through to get me to the place that made me realize that I could no longer live like I was in the sighted world without asking for help. The timing in asking for help was perfect as if I had asked any sooner or any later than I may not have ended up with the perfect match.
As time went one and the professional harness wearing guide dog Minster became charismatic off -duty Munch, I fell deeper and deeper in love with this “once met, never forgotten” hairy soul mate. Wherever we went, people fell in love. He brought isolated people back into this world by being the connection that they so desperately needed to feel. He was not put on this earth to be ignored but he was put on this earth to heal the ignored. Witnessing the effect he has on others makes me feel blessed that I get to see this daily and how much joy it brings to him. He goes into people’s lives for reasons, seasons or the lifetime that he will share with family and friends. He gains just as much as they do from these interactions that can melt anyone’s heart.
Here we are three years and one book later, reflecting on how life has changed for us both over time. For Munch, he has learnt to be the owner in this working partnership which suits me just fine. It feels like I just follow him through life as he leads to whatever adventure he wants to take us on next and I just live my life along the way which I love. He knows the healing power that he has over others which seems to energise him to continue being of service to others in his own unique way. His happiness and freedom to lead us wherever he wishes to go next is what makes life with him so great.
Thanks, Munch, for the most amazing three years of our lives as the family celebrate the universe pairing me with such a beautiful soul. Keep being you even if it is a little dramatically quirky at times, we wouldn’t have you any other way.
Healing never occurs out of the blue, it only occurs when you are ready to receive it.
There are healers amongst us that freely share their healing abilities and wishes for others, and there are those that innately heal others without knowing they are doing so. The child caught up in play that helps the onlooker heal the inner child, does so without an agenda. The illuminated passing smile that connects two souls for the briefest of moments and brings humanity back alive to an isolated soul, does so in the spur of the moment. The listening ear allows the good, the bad and the messy to pass unjudged into a welcoming mind and does not feel the need to correct or dismiss, just allows the speakers words to flow. The hidden healer among us works at just the right time.
This hidden hairy healer took over after I had finished giving some reiki healing to a friend of mine as he felt that there was more to heal in his own unique way. Sniffing out sores in the skin that needed to be seen to, he quickly began to go into his trans like state of healing. He had done this many times before and hovered over open sores before lovingly licking away to ease away the suffering. The hygiene freak in my head had been silenced after researching and finding the almost antiseptic qualities of dog’s saliva and let him do what he needed to do. This dynamic duo of friend and healer had worked like this for over a year with amazing results.
Sniffing out where the healing needed to be directed next, Munch in his trans like state moved around the body under and over the clothes tenderly licking parts that no cream could heal.
When he follows his life purpose as a healer on days like this, he becomes so serene. He was put on this earth to heal the body, mind and soul of those he encounters daily. The hairy healer has many sides to his personality (as do us all), but his desire to help is always central to his true being. With his pleading eyes that gets him out of mischief and his loving heart that draws people in, he never fails to leave a person feeling better after being with him.
Whatever we can do to help another heal may seem small to us but life changing for another. You need not lick another to put a smile on their face (best to ask permission if you feel the need to do so) to show you care and are there for another. Do it your way, for your own reason but just do it to make a deposit into your own karmic bank. You too may need a hairy healer one day.
World Peace Day is a day that I wish could be lived every single day without fail. A day when egos remain asleep and unconditional love wakes up among the seven million souls on this earth. A day that holds no animosity, only respect for one another. Wouldn’t it be great to no longer feel negative about differences, only positive towards accepting another way? Such days do not belong in fiction books alone but can be in our everyday reality if we choose it. There is always a different way.
We may not be able to influence world leaders from the comfort of our homes, but we can always become the leaders in our own world that stands apart from others. Choosing to fight against war will never be as powerful as invoking peace in every area of life that you can. Waiting for others to help with campaigns will never bring you as much satisfaction as you are helping yourself in whatever way you can.
Giving what we can, however we can to help create peace in the world will always make a difference. Have a negativity detox in your life where you only allow in positive energy around you will leave you and others feeling far more peaceful. Being kind to loved ones and strangers alike will break down boundaries between the us and them mentality that creates more separation than unity ever can. Let us be the lead in change in our own community however we can.
Plant a tree to make peace with nature or throw a peace party deep in the woods to connect to the oneness of life. Help in whatever you can in your own community and fill the void that nobody else wants to fill. Give to charity the equivalent of what you would spend on materialistic items you will forget, to make a difference that will never be forgotten. Think of a new way of dealing with old negative patterns that you find yourself repeating and look at the world through fresh new positive eyes.
We do not have to wait until World Peace day of 21st September each year for us to create the peace we want to see in the world. Use this day as the start of a New Year of peaceful living in your own unique style and make the difference that you want to see in the world count.
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!
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.