Service dog training

January 15, 2020

No Joke

My service dog and I walked into a bar . . . Sounds like the start of a bad joke. It was pretty bad, but it was no joke. My service dog (and my husband) and I walked into a restaurant/bar.  We’d gone out to this particular place a few times before. It was a busy night, but there were a few open spaces and we were in no hurry. Waves of music and conversation surrounded the three of us as we waited to be seated. Not a minute went by when the music halted mid-song. The abrupt silence on stage made many heads turn toward the piano player. Microphone in hand, pointing at us with the other, he bellowed, “Did you see the size of that dog?!”  Heads pivoted our way. Did he really just say that? And he’s pointing at us? A few dishwashers peeked through the swinging […]
January 29, 2020

Forget about It

I’d blame the Parkinson’s, but it’s more likely that my usual bubbleheadedness has me forgetting things I should remember. Then again, it could be age. My memory mishaps seem to be on the increase. There are so many now that I can categorize them. There are brain freezes, like “Why did I just walk into the kitchen?” And then there is wishful thinking, as in “I can remember the three things I need from the grocery store without writing them down.” Let’s not forget the fill-in-the-blank moments when a simple word is nowhere to be found. Those are conversation stoppers. When our phones takes a little extra time to retrieve a file, we wait for it. If only we had a similar screen icon on our foreheads of that spinning circle with Processing…this may take several minutes. Why do we expect our aging brain’s full memory cards to function faster […]
March 11, 2020

FDGB

While at a local health fair recently, (held before virus warnings of not to convene in large groups with others), I sat at an exhibitor table with my yoga colleagues. Some of the attendees stopped to say, Hi, talk about yoga and comment on the giant dog beside me. Others took part in Tai chi lessons, worked on movement with various exhibitors and commented on the giant dog beside me. Said giant dog did very well refraining from approaching any of the attendees who spoke to him or reached out a hand. It’s the skill we’ve been working on the most lately. Having an uber-friendly dog is by far not the worst problem to have in these days of so many issues. However, when that dog is a balance service dog, it’s essential he moves only on my command because if he lurches forward for a friendly pet, I FDGB. […]
June 11, 2020

Rally for a Service Dog

Sheltering and social distancing have taken a toll on my service dog and me. Steering clear of public places has weakened our being out in public places skills. Still, as businesses begin to open up, I need to rally myself to get back out into the community. On the plus side, Bryce has become stellar at assisting me throughout the house and garden. We haven’t gone anywhere but house and garden, so he’s had ample opportunity to excel at what I need most in the kitchen, bathroom or out in the yard. Staying at home was simpler. At shops and cafes, there are – people. The grocery store is at the top of the scary list. My husband (and local farm delivery) has taken that on since February. No one used to stop to talk to him in any aisle before the virus and they’re certainly not going to start, […]
May 6, 2021

Today’s Lesson from the 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. Hugs are good.
May 7, 2021

Today’s Lesson from the 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. Do Work that You Love The Service Dog in Brycen typically lies down once I’m safely seated. These days, he dog lingers, leans against my shoulder, rest his head on my lap, a warm mass the weight of a bowling ball. The Service Dog handler in me would insist that he lie down. Instead, I slide his vest off and run my hand down his long, bony back to comfort him. I smooth the bristly fur in the shaved-for-biopsy spots and murmur soft “Good boy”s until he’s ready to settle. He seems to tire more easily, and I fluff his blankets to encourage him to get comfortable on his bed. While my dying dog sleeps, I gaze at the vest on the floor and […]
May 17, 2021

Another Lesson from the Dog

On what’s worth holding onto Here, in his final few months with me, my service dog is quite alert to my moods. He sidles up and leans in, part support, part an it’s-okay hug. I get angry, tearful, crabby about his diagnosis and it reminds me of an incident when anger and tears arose after the first few months of my diagnosis. It was during my yoga teacher training more than a decade ago. In class one day, the instructor parsed the word, dis-ease, emphasis on dis. Ease is what the body does naturally, she said. Our ease is stunted by stress that builds up in the body and interferes with it. Do your yoga and you won’t be subject to dis-ease she concluded. Objection. My neurologist had just confirmed I had Parkinson’s and I’d been practicing yoga for years. Parse that, I wanted to shout. It’s true that job […]
August 13, 2021

Service Dog Haiku

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 […]
October 5, 2021

Welcoming Spencer

October 20, 2021

Spencer gets a training vest