The day after the announcement of the Referendum vote in June, I travelled with my wife and 12-year-old blind dog, Oliver, across France for our summer holiday. Oliver a Dachshund cross Pomeranian has arthritis, a collapsed trachea and a wired up leg in addition to old age and other minor ailments. He went blind four years ago and he has slowed down significantly. Looking after Oliver is a bit like having a disabled child. He needs a lot of love and support. Going for a 50 meter walk now takes about 30 minutes.
We wanted to take him everywhere with us on holiday so the solution…? A special “dog pushchair”. The pushchair meant that we could walk anywhere with him at a normal pace. Carrying an 8kg dog around in 30 degrees is no fun I can tell you! It also provided a secure and contained ‘seat’ for him in restaurants, at the beach, in shops and galleries.
This is not a child’s pushchair adapted for Oliver. It is specially designed to allow the perambulation of a small dog with storage for his attendant bowls, bags and water. It has a rain/sun hood with zips to allow the airflow to pass through so he can breathe easily when covered, storage compartments and the facility to fold with a single operation. Colour choice is restricted (blue or pink – we opted for a boyish blue) and there is little in the way of bling or rattles or toys that you might find on a child’s pushchair. The ride is rather harsh – no springs. We also bought a cooling-gel pad for him to be more comfortable given temperatures were in the 30 degrees C.
It was with some trepidation that I drove with GB plates into France that Friday morning. At each stop people were intrigued to know which way we had voted and more especially, why Britain was doing this about-turn. Everyone was good-humoured and having Oliver in the pushchair helped both our progress on foot as well as deflecting people’s attention from the political arguments for or against. People were more interested to learn about Oliver than the import of our collective decision.
Whilst being blind obviously impairs Oliver’s movements it does not detract from the little fellow’s joy for life. His ability to find his way and use his other senses means that even though for the past four years he has been totally in the dark, he is still as loving and welcoming of new experiences as ever.
He especially liked the small pension in Marseillan near Sete which had a wonderful garden and he enjoyed a delightful few days sitting by the quayside of the small fishing village looking out at the lagoon and the oyster beds while I sipped a glass of locally produced Sancerre with the sun beating down. It was a good time to think and reflect on the year that has just passed and what we plan to do in the year ahead.
Using the right tool for the job
It struck me that the simple addition of a the right piece of equipment made a dramatic difference to our holiday. Oliver is noticeably a happier chappie. He positively loves visiting new places, meeting loads of new people and always wears a smile. He even gets to sit in restaurants with us that otherwise would not let him through the door!
So Oliver has his platform, it extends and enhances his joi de vivre and probably his life expectancy. Why did we not think of it before? It was so obvious we needed one.
Making library life easier
Is there a parallel with how the library operates? Library systems need to do more today than ever before – they need an extra dimension for the library service to prosper, develop and succeed. Having a flexible platform that fully supports the activities of the library can take it to new places, do more for users and make people working in the library feel happier.
What technology improvements would make your life in the library easier? Feel free to add your comments below!
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