Well, some people will know of my Guide Dog Ralph from my tweets. if you follow me on twitter but maybe some of you might not have heard of him, so I would like to write a post about him and also just tell you about something that is happening very soon concerning fundraising.

Ralph is my eight year-old Lab Retreaver cross Guide Dog. I don’t have a photo of him to stick up here but at some point soon when I am more sure how to do it and when I actually have a picture of him I will put one up for all to see.

In late 2004 I put the wheels in motion to purchase my house which I am still living in today. I was still rather young at the time and some of my mates thought I was mad to be settling down with a mortgage at that age but I was satisfied that I was making the right decision and I have to say that going through with it was one of the best things that I have done. I needed independence. Where I was brought up was out in the countryside. I loved the area and still do, but I couldn’t get from a to b independently on my own even with Ralph with me so the only thing for it was to move closer to town and to where I would have access to shops and pubs and restaurants and cinemas and other amenities like that which I could use and not have to depend on people to take me where I needed to go all the time.

The house purchase was completed in February 2005 and myself and Ralph moved in. This was when we just took off on our own adventure. We had been commuting too and from Dublin for work on a daly basis and were living at my parents house. This was a two hours round trip for us which started with my mother taking us to Carlow train station by car. I was now lucky in that I had purchased my home close enough to the station that I could walk there and back with Ralph and we had everything close at hand. He was still rather young at the time but he was very relaxed and mature and enjoyed this new challenge and loved getting out and about learning new routes around the town. Having grown up here apart from the time I went away to attend school I was delighted to learn more routes by myself and be able to get too and from places that I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own before.

I can only use the word fantastic to describe what it feels like to me walking around with Ralph while he is working. He loves it and is so prowd and confident in what he does and he really shows it also. I just feel that I can see because I am guided around obstacles that I wouldn’t have known were there and because I am not walking along tapping a cane around to find things to bump into or make contact with before getting on with my journey again. I can go at the same speed as anyone else while walking and I am a quick walker. My direction also certainly is more acute with him also. I am not sure why this is. I think it is because we just walk around at a normal speed and also it might be something in how Ralph is trained to walk in a straight line and stop at the edge of a kerb when he can’t go any further and wait for more instructions from me.

At home he is also a great companion to me in the house and I never feel alone with him here. Our friendship is not like the human kind so people saying that he must be my best friend does annoy me at times. I have plenty of friends and some very good and supportive close ones. Just because a blind person has a Guide Dog doesn’t mean this dog is automatically their best friend in the world. I do love him yes and have some great chats with him but he can’t talk back. Now, if he could he would tell me to shut up I just know he would haha.

I am not going to go into the responsibilities of having Ralph and how he has to be looked after and stuff in this post. I wanted to just give you a sense of what he means to me and what its like for me to have the independence that he gives. My good friend Jen does a great job of topics Guide Dog related on her blog and I would recommend you all check it out. If you are a music lover like myself she might even interest you with her musical postings also. Her latest post at the time of me writing this one refers to Darragh and his post Thanks Freddie which he wrote about his retired dog Freddie. This post that Darragh wrote got great attention from people and when you read it you will understand why.

My main reason for writing this post came about over a week ago when I was asked to write a peace for Quinn’s blog to just talk about myself and Ralph. This peace is being used in a post about a head shave which is taking place in Kerry at the end of this month. Apparently one of Quinn’s owners is getting all his hair shaved off and all proceeds will go to Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. Do check it out and if you can at all give a few quid towards this very worthy event. A big Thanks must go to all Quinn’s Kerry family for their hard work and dedication to Irish Guide Dogs. As a Guide Dog owner I think I can say on behalf of other Guide Dog owners a huge thank you to you all and keep up the great work.