My sister stayed with my husband and me for the first week after we brought home our son. She helped ease us into our new life of overwhelming responsibility. Ten years later, I’m feeling that way again. I recognize that same wide-eyed focus, that obsession with what-does-this-new-being-under-my-roof need? All other responsibility fades. Emails go unread, news occurs whether I read about it or not, meals get skipped. This time, I’m on my own this time with a 125-pound new arrival. Similarities exist between a little baby in the house and big baby in the house: – The ‘baby’ and I check on each others’ whereabouts 24/7 He keeps an eye on me for security, I for him for safety. – A fully stocked bag travels with us. The size of a diaper bag, I keep it filled with a fold-up mat (for him to lie on during long down-stays, especially at […]
I was not a wedding planner as a girl. The date the marriage began, I figured, was not the end of a fairy tale we’d live Happily Ever After. It seemed more of a beginning where the reality of quirks and habits and miscommunication meant we’d agree to ‘Hard Work Hereafter.’ Now that Sir Thomas is home, our work is beginning. I’m discovering that, like with a marriage, with each adventure we gain a little understanding, become better partners. The yogi in me is keeping me from judging our actions and letting them be what they are, including added bits of insight and humor. Outing #1: The dentist (exciting, I realize…but, even though pictures of service dogs and their handlers often show them at restaurants, the reality is we more often have mundane errands and appointments). How we did: ST performed admirably. He had to squeeze into a tight spot […]
Outing #2: Yoga Class How We Did: Sir Thomas, a natural yogi, got into a down-dog pose before class started. He found it difficult to relax into savasana, though. He popped up a few times from his down-stay. I realized that he was listening to me as I guided the class through poses, my voice the same tone as when I cue his commands. He couldn’t rest easy because he kept waiting for a word he knew. I hadn’t anticpated his focus on my voice; he hadn’t experienced being in a down-stay with a string of unfamiliar words. What I Learned: Bring a chew toy not only to keep him busy but to emphasize that during class, he’s on call not on active duty. Pleasant Surprise: He’s a quick learner: By the end of the week I was teaching my third class with Tommy in attendance. He fell sound asleep. […]
Sir Thomas and Elsie are getting along better than I could’ve imagined. They read each other not only instinctively but with particular care. Play time happens only when they both want to race around the yard. One tests the other or, somehow, even before posing in the forelegged puppy bow, they communicate. Elsie seems to appreciate that he bounds over her and doesn’t barrel into her. Post-playtime, when she wants to lie in her bed (the one with her name on it, of course), she’ll appreciate it when he really learns to read.
When I applied for a service dog, I prepared myself for much that I figured I’d face with my furry, four-legged cane. I never factored in the need for aliases. Not for me. For him. Names are special. Remember in kindergarten, when you stared down at the chunky crayon letters you wrote and it spelled your very own name? And how important it felt to see your name on labels throughout the classroom: on your cubby, lunchbox, folders? Names are personal. Ask any parent, there’s likely a story behind the children’s names. And on the flip side, names carry adverse personality traits. We’ve all known a [fill in the blank] who rubbed us the wrong way and makes us shudder whenever we hear it. Tommy’s name is special in its own way. He learned it early on. Part of training the pups involves coming for a treat when the individual’s […]
My New Year’s resolve is to Live Large. I’m talking BIG. Super Size. Double or nothing. I’m not referring to Hollywood-bling-private-jet enormity. What I mean involves basic bulk. In other words, wherever I go, there is substantially more of me. Twice as much and then some. And I’m not apologizing for it. In fact, I’m learning to delight in it. The truth is, living with SIr Thomas has introduced me to new experiences. Many I could plan for. The one nuance I couldn’t have predicted – no matter how many books I read on Great Danes or neurologists I talked to about my PD symptoms – relates to size. Of course Tommy tips the scales at more poundage than I; heft is part of his service qualifications. Because he takes up substantial space alongside me, I can lean on him – quite literally. I knew it was big, this introduction of […]
So there I was, driving to a weekly yoga class I teach at a local hospital. Same time, same route, same station wagon. During this regular trip to a standard appointment, I checked the rear view mirror. Tommy’s big head filled most of it as he lay in his typical car position: curled up with his snout resting in a sunbeam on the narrow ledge of the back window. He looked so comfortable. This comfort of his has moved beyond snoozy. He’s in tune with me, understanding our routine, sensing when I need him, patient with people endlessly commenting on his size/beauty/good manners. And at that very moment, as though his reflection triggered some kind of inner reflection, this was no ordinary-kind-of day. Not with that extraordinary (snoring) being with me.
Three minutes. One video. A full explanation. “Feet at Work” (an Honorary Mention winner in the 2013 World Parkinson Congress video competition) explains. 2013 WPC Video Competition Thank you, WPC. Woot woot! (and woof, woof!)
It’s not really yoga, but it is an example of opening up to how one can, as B. K. S. Iyengar says, endure what we cannot cure: NEW! For Kids: “A Treasure Hunt for Mama and Me is an excellent example of offering ways a child can work to adapt to and accept a parent’s chronic or serious illness.” – Midwest Book Review “For families coping with parental illness such as Parkinson’s, this is a very enjoyable and helpful read.” – Cathi Thomas, MS, RN Small Horizons (an imprint of New Horizons Press) Ages 5 up $9.95 Available at your local bookstore or on Amazon
Routines rule. When a schedule runs as planned, a sense of control washes over the daily shifts-and- takes of Parkinson’s. I feel as though I’m in charge: Me, alpha; you, disease. Sir Thomas likes his routines, too. Same food, same time and no surprises (particularly of the projectile kind). He gets a regular walk. I’m consistent with the vocab I use when he’s working. I feel as though I’m in charge. Me, alpha; you, service dog. Vacations disrupt routines. With one fast approaching, I prepared for the changes afoot – well, four feet, actually. Plus one giant head. With his schedule in flux, I figured I’d establish a holiday routine. It will help ease the transition from being home. His and mine. By weaving the same-old, same-old habits into the day – meds at regular intervals (mine), outdoor breaks at the expected times (his), standard exercise and meals as usual […]