Hi. Its me. I even forgot how to log in and write a new post, so having reminded myself what a blog is, I am inspired and fired up to get back in touch with the outside world. After several people asking me what had happened to the blog, it felt time to inject new enthusiasm back in. Its not unlike me to get all obsessive over something, then it all slides into the shadows for a while. I am known for slightly erratic attention span, and I guess you could call me an all or nothing person. So - wow, what a year it has been. Huge highs, huge lows, and throughout it all Lucie has kept me going and provided a non stop supply of cuddles along the way.
Last week I attended the Annual Awards Ceremony for Support Dogs, celebrating all the newly qualified partnerships. It is always a wonderful day as we get to see all the friendly faces that are part of our journey, and more emotionally for me, also seeing Lucie's foster carers and puppy walkers who took great care of her before she came into our lives, as well as her puppy walker presenting a cheque of near £600 which they had fundraised from a concert. I was asked to do a short talk on Lucie and autism, which is always a pleasure being able to share out story to such a large group of people. It always feels cathartic, talking about the challenges, then saying how much progress we have made, and what a part Lucie has played in all this.
The surprise for me in the day was receiving an award for Client Volunteer of the Year, which genuinely feels undeserving, knowing how many volunteers play an amazing part in keeping the charity going, but cool regardless, and my first award now taking pride on my mantelpiece, despite being made of glass and thus a life expectancy of about two months with Alex around...maybe I should glue it down ;)
Also enjoyed listening to the guys from JTM with a Miele washing machine that had been entirely adapted to be completely dog operated. Woof to Wash, as the name suggests, is started by a dog bark through a voice activated sensor, and has a paw release door catch, and a ball for the door to be pulled open. And of course, the dog is trained to load and unload the washing, so can completely run a cycle on its own. Great idea, but of course I am imagining the adverts with the dog fetching all his own toys and bedding, and developing an OCD behaviour to cleanliness...if your brain works like mine you would follow that....
Tomorrow night I am off to Sheffield again with Lucie to a black tie dinner for the Annual Sheffield Chambers of Commerce awards. Rita, Support Dogs MD, and I did a presentation a few weeks ago after being shortlisted to the final 3 charities pitching to be their charity of the year. We find out tomorrow night who has won. Given that the other charities are equally deserving, such as a children's hospice, it hardly has a competitive feel, as every charity feels worthy, but of course to see Support Dogs get that vital support from businesses in their area would be a huge boost, and I am allowed to be biased.
Aside from that the other huge stuff this year, is my Dad has kicked cancer in its butt. Quite literally, it was prostate cancer... so proud of him, he took on the battle with vigour and has impressed the doctors and us. Of course its ongoing and drugs for ages, but in one year he has gone from scary situation to awesome. And that's not all my good news, Alex, my 7 year old in nappies who I had prepared myself to accept that may not change, has very quickly toilet trained!! I am so proud. Despite years of trying different approaches, he finally clicked at half term, and within two weeks went from nappies to dry 24 hours. What a hero, he never fails to motivate me to keep raising the bar of my expectations from him. Not only that, earlier this year he learned to drink water from a cup on his own, a huge skill, all giving him more independence. So now I feel there is only one more large hurdle to climb, his limited eating. If we can crack that then Alex will be so much better set up for a better quality of life, so I am all fired up.
And Lucie - well the one blog I wish I had written was about me and Lucie going to London for a conference. It was such an experience taking an assistance dog on the tubes etc, I will write a post just sharing the tales of that trip... She is now an intrinsic member of the family. She continues to be a crazy loopy dog when being, well, a dog, but when her jacket goes on she clicks into professionalism and makes me proud to be with her. In fact right now she is with me at work sitting under the table being first class. I work part time for the National Autistic Society, I started in September, at Bolton University, supporting students with autism in their degrees. Mostly Lucie stays at home, but occasionally I bring her if the hours make sense. She is perfect.
So now I am sitting in an Illustration class with a student whose assignment is designing a book cover for War of the Worlds, whilst he is reciting The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy to me verbatim, a slight obsessional interest that makes me smile. What a strange life I lead...
Anyway, I hope to post some photos soon, but while I am at work, I am going to sign off now and will speak with you again. :)