Monday, 26 November 2012

26/11 Graduation and my meltdowns :)

This weekend has been a whirlwind of action.  Saturday was the big graduation day for me and Lucie.  I approached it with excitement and trepidation, as it was both a celebration and a logistical nightmare :) The event was in a venue near Sheffield which involved sitting in a room for several hours with around 200 people, and dozens of assistance dogs.  This in itself posed some challenges as to how we were going to make the journey to Sheffield and back, and keep the kids seated in a room full of people and dogs, but with some imaginative planning, we were off.  First hurdle was to get Tom through the journey without being car sick, with the exceptionally nice touch of having to cross the Penines over the Snake Pass.  The clue is in the name:)  Some travel sickness pills, and focussing him and we all arrived in one piece.

In we go armed with tonnes of treats to help Lucie redirect from her canine friends, and an armful of things to keep the kids quiet, toys, books and the ultimate last resort - the ipad.  We all settled, and I have to say the day was wonderful.  We were surprised to see our picture on a banner when we walked in which Tom thought was very funny....and we were also greeted by Murdoch, the Support Dogs mascot much to the pleasure of the kids.

Alex was attached to Lucie most of the time, and in the odd moments we gave Lucie a break, Alex bolted off to cause chaos, so she really had been helping.  I can't imagine doing the day without her.  Lucie was fabulous, not only taking it all in her stride, but also because it became like a 'Whose Who' of Lucie's life. We had a really lovely time as Lucies Guide Dog puppy walker, Ruth, who had taken care of Lucie in her first year, had made the journey all the way from Worcester with her husband to share Lucie's special day. And it got better when we also met Lucie's foster families who she stayed with while training at support dogs. It was so wonderful to finally meet them and be able to say thank you for all their efforts in helping a dog like Lucie make her way into our family.  Quite emotional.  Lucie couldn't stop wagging her tail, as person after person came to say hello who she hadn't seen in ages.  She must have thought all her Christmas's had come at once.

And so the time came for Lucie and I to collect our certificate and rosette.  To my horror the first thing I realised was the lady presenting the awards was the examiner we had two weeks ago when I had the day from hell when Lucie was unwell. I was so embarrassed to see her again after she had seen me in such a state on the test. Ah well, just smile and keep going!  As we were called forward, I took Alex with me attached to Lucie, and Tom came too.  We did okay in front of 200 people until we went to take our seat. 

Alex was walking holding on to his handle when he caught sight of a lady with her iphone on the floor.  With no notice he launched at her taking me and Lucie with him.  He grabbed the phone (a little fun obsession he has is stealing android phones - yep - thats my boy) and bolted away.   I am now on the floor in front of everyone holding on to the strap between Alex and Lucie.  Lucie did as trained and stood steady while I could sort out Alex. Dave and Michelle, Lucie's trainer, dived in to help.  We untangled, regrouped and scrambled back to our seats.  Just dying inside, all I could think is why can one day not go smoothly.  We had to have a drama in front of all those people.  I cried a few tears just from the stress and tirednes of it all.  But I did realise that proved in spectacular unplanned fashion why we have an assistance dog, so it looked like a proper demonstration!  Ah well, take us as we are...

And so back home.  Snake pass again, and Dave and I were feeling quite smug we had brought Tom home without being ill...hah!  Speaking too early.....we unpacked the car, and Lucie walked straight through the door and vomitted spectacularly.  It seems the snake pass does not agree with dogs.  Whilst she looked fine after, that was a nice tidy up job.  I turned around during this to see Alex launch the laptop and kill it completely.  No working hard drive.  RIP PC.  Enough stress?  No - Dave meanwhile was unpacking our stuff from the day including some olive oils we had won in the raffle.  One slipped, smashed glass and oil time to register that, as I piled the kids and dog into the living room while said glass was removed. Tom went into total meltdown as he soon realised he had left behind his beloved Match Attack collection cards and folder in Sheffield. And all this within ten minutes.  Not good.  So, Lucie all cleaned up and recovered from travel blues, olive oil wiped up, PC mourned and Alex quickly diverted to ipad (not helped at the realisation a presentation due on Monday and two days work now lost and not backed up was annihilated with laptop launch)...and Dave was dispatched to Asda to buy said replacement Match Attack cards. Yes I will buy my way out once in a while.  Shortcuts are sometimes needed for sanity.

And no time to rest as Sunday is the Hearts and Minds Charity MadMen Ball.  Dave's parents were kindly babysitting, so the house needed at the minimum some attention to look presentable.  I am not houseproud but realise when my friends inhale at the state of the place, then maybe my priorities are getting squiffy.  So a quick scoot round the house, then finally we crashed in front of the TV.  Graduation day complete, tomorrow is another day, but for guessed!


  1. It was so lovely to meet you on saturday, and rest assured that even if you were stressed on saturday, you appeared calm as a cucumber! Andrea, support dogs foster carer x

  2. You did so well at the Awards Ceremony - I loved the moment when you absorbed the calmness of having photographs taken - everything was perfect and you apologised to everyone for taking your time with a very precious moment for you all!!!
    Love from Kath Hardman and the "Dancing Dogs"