April marks Parkinson’s Awareness Month and as I move through speaking engagements and presentations, Sir Thomas and I advocate for each other. April 7: Sister, Sister! The Dames with Danes presented the “A, B, Cs of Service Dogs” to a Parkinson’s support group. We talked about A=All the Good, B=Be Sure to Consider such things as cost, commitment, change in lifestyle, C=Caution (which included discussion of vet care, what a 24/7 partnership means, reconsider if you’re more of a cat person). It was a great crowd with many thoughtful questions and respect for the Do Not Pet/Do Not Distract on both Danes’ vests. Our initial entrance to the building, however, met with quite the opposite awareness of the two dogs at work. The appearance of a pair of giant dogs in harnesses inside a city building (where the support group happened to be meeting) speaks of working dogs. We’d been in […]
Sir Thomas greets each morning with a romp and rip through the yard, his tail high and happy. Dinner continues to be met with a lot of wagging. As does breakfast. As does snack time. As does the opening of the plastic container with leftover ham in it. Recently, however, by day’s end, the spring in Tommy’s step has sprung. Late afternoon, he’ll saunter up beside me and I notice that I have to slow my pace to his. It might just be that my mighty boy is telling me he’s getting tired. Perhaps that’s what the ‘tire’ in retirement means. The word conjures up images of golf clubs, very white sneakers and dinner reservations by 5:00 pm. The actual definition is retreat, withdraw, leave service. So, when should a service dog leave service? Google the question and hundreds of varying recommendations appear on screen, none of which derive […]
I’m baaaaaack. It’s a New Year, the whirlwind transition to a new canine partner is behind in 2018, and I’m out and about with a second service dog by my side (it amazes me I am fortunate enough to be teamed with a second service dog). Yes, I’m back, complete with the stories. Some of them lean toward sweet and I’m back could be heard in the same tone as though coming home after too-long a journey. Other tales make me cringe and I’m back conjures up images and audio of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Among them, of course: the inevitable saddle comments. Regardless, I’m back in the saddle again. So, please come back as I continue to share these stories in order to help, hope, educate, advocate, learn.
How businesses like the local coffee shop can help reduce service dog fraud I’m seated at Starbucks with my chai latte (almond milk) grande, scone, extra napkins. My service dog, curled up on his mat beside me, sighs. We’re content in our corner, which has me wondering how it got so complicated. Not the tea. Green or black, with bagel or brioche, the simple fact is that it is pleasant here. No surprises. Just what this customer wants. An untrained dog running amok would cancel out the pleasantries. Like the diners in a California bistro recently, I’d find another establishment for my tea break. The dog in the booth beside those diners lounged on the seat until a plate of fries arrived, which he then snarfed off the table. I’d also be among the no-repeat customers in a building in Massachusetts where, while on the elevator, a vested mini-dog […]
* My service dog is dying from T-cell lymphoma. He’s teaching me how to say that in dog-speak: My service dog is living in the moment. The prognosis for canine T-cell lymphoma is bleak. – Service dog handler’s thought bubbleOoh, a bug. Aah, warm sun. – Service dog’s thought bubble For nearly three years, my service dog has provided balance for me, he’s my Dane in lieu of a cane. I hold onto him to steady my Parkinson’s gait. His training taught him to walk in step with me because if he lurched or lingered, I’d surely take a tumble. For the past two months, my service dog has provided balance for me in another way, serving me yet again. While he’s the one undergoing blood tests and biopsies, he helped me up and steadied me after I tumbled, not physically but emotionally. I’d lurched into the grim future […]
The only time my service dog isn’t beside me–or at the very least in the same room—is when I’m out on a bike ride. My service husband captains the tandem, which means I’m in back pedaling while he pedals, too, in addition to steering, braking and checking the GPS. I trade a blocked view in front for the opportunity to let my eyes and thoughts wander. It makes for a prime setting for a haiku to formulate. Words gather in my head as we ride. I take in the scenery and allow it to mix with my mood while the pedal stroke sets a rhythm to fit the poem’s five-seven-five beat. Here’s one now that popped up just thinking about a ride: From the rear seat ofA bicycle built for twoI count syllables Renee Le Verrier Lately, my service dog has spent more time beside me at home—as close as […]