Getting to Know You
August 22, 2012
Getting to Know You
August 22, 2012

Going to the Dogs

Living with Parkinson’s requires flexibility.

Yes, yes, a yoga instructor would of course make such a statement. Even as — or especially as —  rigidity tries its finest to win the physical battle against my Warrior poses.

But armed with an upward-facing dog, I stand my ground. Really. A real dog.

That’s where the  flexibility comes in. Dogs are pets, right? Guide dogs are for the visually impaired, yes? Service dogs are for, well, service, like opening doors and such, isn’t that true?

Right. Yes. And true. But some dogs are also trained specifically for the ever-stiffening, balance-challenged among us. These four-legged companions can extend the physical capabilities that we need to draw on in the various roles of our lives so we can stay active in those roles, from work to parenting to the arts to teaching yoga classes. In being flexible and open, I find I’m fighting for what can be rather than simply against this disease. And in doing so, I’ve discovered a way to, well, remain flexible.

I’ll keep practicing my down-dogs. I’ve also  been matched with a service dog. His name is Sir Thomas. This is our story.


  1. Jerry Hyatt says:

    I have Parkinson ‘s disease and have trouble with balance and walking etc. I am interested in checking on getting a service dog. Where and who do I need to contact,..etc… I am a 68 yr old white male and live alone. My brother lives about two blocks away. I would appreciate any information you can give me.

    Jerry E. Hyatt

    • Renee says:

      Somehow I’m receiving this only now. I’ll still respond, though, in case you’re still in search of a service dog. You can go to an agency, work with a trainer, or train your own dog. A list of agencies can be found at Assistance Dogs International (ADI). They list by region, by disability, by services needed. Another good source is International Association of Assistance Dogs Partners (AAIDP). For more general informtion, try Service Dog Central. Best wishes!

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