Service Dog

April 16, 2021

Out of Service

The instructions on my service dog’s tags read DO NOT Separate Dog from Handler. The same words repeat on the rear window of my van, emphasizing that wherever I go, he goes. We’re a team. Even in an emergency, we both board the ambulance. Yet, here I stand in the parking lot of the urgent care clinic watching a vet assistant lead him inside without me by his side. I feel half-dressed, only one pant leg on. I wish there were instructions sewn onto my COVID mask that read DO NOT Separate Handler from Service Dog. Even in a pandemic. When a pet falls ill, it’s heartbreaking. They don’t complain. If only they could explain how they feel, where it hurts. So, we do what we can: fluff their beds, sit by their side stroking their fur, break the rules and hand-feed them slices of roasted chicken. We try to […]
May 1, 2021

Lessons 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. 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 […]
May 3, 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. Nap. Take a few moments to nap. Nap in a sunbeam.Nap with your besties.
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 […]
August 26, 2021

Be Free, Brycie

I’m convinced that Great Danes are humans, either reincarnated or dressed in dog outfits. What else could explain their size, intuition and the depth of grief when they’re gone? There are sayings that try, such as “Everything happens for a reason” or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger ” or “It was meant to be.” To those sayings, I say, Hoo-Hah Alert! HHA number one: Reason? There is no rationality about the plight of Afghan women right now. On a scale closer to home, I can see no logic as to why a young, happy, healthy helper dog gets lymphoma.   HHA number two: Be strong or die? I’m thinking that a few of those women might rather be dead. Again, bringing it home, some biggies that should categorize me as The Hulk: I’ve survived a childhood stroke, lost my kid sister to lung cancer and have lived with […]
October 5, 2021

Welcoming Spencer

October 20, 2021

Spencer gets a training vest