I’ve always been a dog lover, and we’ve had dogs at home most of the time. I always knew I wanted a guide dog, so having a golden Labrador for 13 years was good practice! I applied to guide dogs UK in Belfast when I was 17, because I was studying at queens. After a successful assessment, I was put on a waiting list to be matched with the right dog. After finishing my degree last year, I was told I couldn’t get a dog from Belfast as I wasn’t a UK resident anymore. Luckily enough I had applied to Irish guide dogs in Cork in July 2005, and was on their waiting list too. I seemed to be waiting forever, but I knew I would get one sometime, and the wait would be worth it. At the beginning of June, I got a call from the client services team, saying that they thought they had a possible dog for me. Obviously I was delighted, but I was told not to get too excited until they were sure it was the right one. 3 weeks later, I was contacted again, and had to go to Cork to meet my potential future guide dog the following week. O.J. is a lovely black labrador/retriever. He loves people and other dogs, and I had a feeling I was going to get on well with him straight away. I practiced walking with him on the lead, before going on a short walk close to the centre. I was nervous at the beginning, but quickly relaxed when we started walking. The dog did everything I asked him to do, and it was a great experience. The train journey back from Cork was great, as I knew for definite that after waiting for almost 4 years, I finally had something I’d always wanted- a guide dog. I had 5 weeks to plan things at home, decide what I’m taking to Cork, and break the news to my bichon fries puppy Dougal! He’s 6 months old, and very lively, but luckily he likes other dogs. I’m sure the two dogs will get on ok, but hopefully someone will try and teach Dougal some more manners during the 3 weeks when I’m in Cork.