Friday, 14 May 2010

Guide Dog of the Year and Paralympic Champion? Er perhaps not!

Sheffield Shambles:
Last Friday, Calvin and I ventured to Sheffield. This was the furthest we’ve travelled together solo. We were just going up for the day to meet Beth, Jenny and co who were there for the annual Aniridia Network meeting, which was being held on the Saturday.

We caught the train from Leicester station, which was a few mins late, but no big deal really. Calvin was quite well behaved, but beyond the tracks could apparently see someone spraying some sort of disinfectant that he must have been able to smell causing a couple of growls. Once on the train he was such a fidget. We’ve only ever done 10min journeys, excluding the tube, but the seating layout is different. Fair enough he has to have his frantic search under the seats to see what crumbs he can salvage, but then he wants to face the aisle so he can nose at everyone. The last time I checked, dogs can’t walk backwards, so when I usher him in he’s not facing his preferred way. He got comfy for a couple of mins in a nice tight ball so I had plenty of leg space. Next thing I know people are stepping over something in the aisle! He had only managed to sneak under my legs and was sprawled out in the middle of the train! He clearly thought, oooh there’s a nice big space there I can lie in! So, I went through the process of getting him back in, but he continued to fidget and force his way back into the aisle for the duration of the journey. It was one of the longest hour’s of my life!

When the train pulled into the station, I was more than happy to get off and Mr Fidget couldn’t wait either. We followed the mass crowd towards the exit and were rescued by an assistance guy who walked us to the front of the station. Calvin was quite calm, stopped properly at all of the steps and followed the guy all properly. Then he saw Jaynie, Jenny’s Guide Dog. All of his Christmases had come at once. Jaynie is a very calm, cool and collected Guide Dog and you could sense her rolling her eyes at Calvin who was bounding along, ready to have a party. He took his excitement out on Jenny, showing me up successfully by jumping up at her several times. It was one of those moments where you deny being connected in any shape or form to your child!

Next, Beth comes along with Sandie, a Guide Dog who is getting on a bit, but hasn’t forgotten her youth! At this point Calvin thinks I’m the best person in the world bringing him to this dog fest and greets Beth and Sandie accordingly. Sandie was clearly love struck by Calvin and the pair flirted for a while.

We left the station in pursuit of the hotel where the others would be staying. Calvin had a spring in his step and pulled so much, which I struggled to control. He insisted charging ahead, which wasn’t very sociable and didn’t help when I had no idea where we were heading. We arrived at the hotel and my arm was ready to drop off. Calvin and Sandie started playing in harness in reception, whilst Jaynie stood disapprovingly. I would like to say it was Sandie who was the bad influence urging Calvin to play and as if he’s going to refuse!

Calvin and his bitches got to have a play in Beth’s room where they fought over who was top dog. Calvin was fed and then attempted to climb into the bin where I had disposed the bag his food was in. The next challenge was spending him on concrete. At home he will do it no problem, but when out is a fuss pot and is only willing to do it on grass. It took him a while to oblige, but finally did a quick splash and dash!

We ate a pleasant dinner in the hotel and it was then time for me to get back to the station. Calvin pulled and pulled all the way there and I assume he needed a spend, but when we finally reached some grass he just stood there and wouldn’t move for ages. He’s a big drinker, so needs spending quite a bit. He fidgeted all the way back home and a creepy man started speaking to me. Somehow by the end of it Calvin changed his name to Selina!

I knew he must be bursting for a spend when we arrived and he nearly sent me flying when he didn’t stop at the stairs. I took him by the bike stand out of the way and didn’t need to be asked to do a busy. I felt like I was standing there for half an hour whilst the river flowed!

I took him as soon as we got in and another half hour waterfall was in full flow. About 20mins later it was bedtime, but took him again and yet another stream was produced!

Calvin sleeps downstairs in the extension at night and the door is closed. He’s always been happy with the arrangement and it’s worked fine. However, he mustn’t have been able to cross his paws for much longer and broke down the door during the night. I heard him shake at the bottom of the stairs and confused went down to see how he had got there. I took him to spend and was surprised to witness yet another waterfall that made him whimper. He must have been holding for so long that it was now painful to pass water! I did feel for him, but I couldn’t have spent him much more than I did. For the rest of Saturday I took him hourly, just so he could flush everything out and he was fine by the end of the day. I learnt a hell of allot!

Competition Catastrophe:
Last Sunday saw my first athletics competition of the season. Of course it was freezing, windy and threatening to rain! It was being held down in Middlesex, North London and as usual I entered the 100 and 200m. Nerves filled my stomach and I was dying to get it over and done with! This year is so important for me, I just need 15.1secs for 100m, which I ran last year and 32.25secs for 200m, which I came so close to last season in order to secure my World Class funding. I’ve been running so well on my own due to a lack of guide runner and know for sure I should smash the required times.

However, I went down with Amy who is great at taking me to the gym, but isn’t the quickest of runners. I stayed positive, knowing I might not run as well as I am capable of, but looked to at least reach the necessary standards. I felt even sicker when I discovered Tracey Hinton, 5 times Paralympian and Britain’s No.1 for totally blind athletes would be racing against me! I’m No.2 in the country, but have obviously not achieved anything within her league yet!

Bang! Well I thought there should have been a bang by now! I false started! I desperately wanted to get a good start. I didn’t panic and thought maybe I’ve just put pressure on the rest of the field, which might work to my advantage! Bang! I got an excellent start, but wait where is my guide?! Still on the start line?! I’m 20m up the track! Considering we’re attached by a band, this isn’t good! I felt like I had to stop and wait for her. The result being a 15.93 run, last place and frustration!

Afterwards, whilst waiting for my time that The Head Coach of the GB Paralympic Team went to get, since he was eager to see if I had managed the standard, I spoke to Tracey’s guide. Nice bloke, gave me some hints on how guide running should be done and basically told Amy she was too slow for me! Tracey ran 13.85 and was disappointed! She should have been in my shoes! I felt silly!

A 3hour wait for the 200m, which I was determined to give my best shot. No false start this time, but yet again my guide was behind me! I swear it felt like I was running in a zigzag, our arms weren’t in sink and I was off balance because of it. I reached the finish line, 100m behind everyone else and felt like screaming! 35.1secs compared to Tracey’s 28.5! I was a good 3secs off of my own PB. After getting my time I tried to make a quick exit, but Tracey’s guide collared me to find out my time! Talk about rubbing salt into the wound!

What I did learn was that I can’t run with Amy again, as she’s just too slow. However, I don’t have anyone else despite advertising. On a slightly positive note it’s a better start than last year where I ran 16.9 and 36.9 in my opening race, but it’s far from my full potential.

On May 22/23 I have been invited to an international competition being held in Liverpool prior to the Paralympic World Cup. This is both an amazing opportunity and a vital event. I can’t afford to show myself up. Thankfully, Jor’dan who is the second quickest female at my club is helping me out. We’ve only had a couple of runs together, but it feels fast. I just want my times, then I don’t care if I run badly for the rest of the season!


torie said...

Oh my god!!!!!! Kalvan is so bad!!!!! Is there no way you can stop him jumping up at people and that?

I'm sorry to hear about your guide. Are you not meant to run at the same time? And should she not be in front of you to "guide" you?

Good luck with your compitition next week!!!!


Jen said...

Calvin sounds like a busy boy (pardon the punn!) He'd get along well with OJ who always wants to play with other dogs.
He must drink a lot of water!
Hope you find a good guide runner soon.

Selina Litt said...

Nah Calvin is much improved tbh. He no longer wears his halty around my local area, can do routes without messing around too much and we no longer get lost! Sheffield was dramatic, but I think the sight of other Guide Dogs and a new environment made him a bit giddy. Along with the lack of spending in Shef it was just all a bad combination. He'll learn though, I have faith!

Yes the guide runner should be a little ahead of you and faster than you. Closing date for my new guide runner is 28th May. So, fingers crossed.

Jenny you're back!