Service Dog

April 5, 2014

Dogs in New Zealand

The Parkinson’s Society of New Zealand interviewed Carolyn and me during the World Congress in Montreal about our service dogs. Canada was a bit far to travel for their members, but many were interested in our presentation on PD and service dogs. They may be far away but the thread that weaves through our common symptoms and ways to manage is a short click away. Click here for the interview. And if you missed it, click here for the presentation.  
June 1, 2014

540 Good Dogs and Counting

  After a year to-and-a-half together (already!), it seems impossible that Sir Thomas and I could come face-to-face with anything we haven’t already seen or heard. Together, we’ve encountered a wide variety of situations, including unleashed dogs, scorns of disapproval (What’s that dog doing in here?), toddler tail-grabbing, airport security pat downs, surprised drivers (cabs and ferries) and many friendly souls (including a chef at a rather upscale restaurant who delivered a plate of chicken she’d cooked up for Thomas when she saw us arrive). We’ve attended yoga classes (Tommy loves relaxation poses) and art classes (cerulean blue paint is a challenge to wash from white fur). We’ve experienced people who hold the door for us (and one woman who held the door for only Tommy, letting it slam before I passed through), people who take pictures of him, people who insist he’s one breed or another (but certainly not […]
June 5, 2014

Mayan Crossroad

  My friend, Cindy, got me thinking. In her blog about living with Parkinson’s (, she concludes, “Until there is a cure, there is community.” I have to agree with her. While I’d welcome a cure to this disease, I’d not trade its gift of community. Paths that would not have otherwise intersected have brought me to delightful crossroads with people. Through this community, I’ve laughed with lawyers, danced with dentists and made dear friends with retired veterans, college professors and MBAs alike. When the world’s bad guys seem to be winning or the cure on the horizon is a mirage, this community brings me back. They get it. They care. They remind me that plenty of people wear white hats, not black. When my path intersected with the Service Dog Project and Sir Thomas, it wound up at a crossroads with dog lovers across the globe, a community full […]
July 14, 2014

Vested Interest

At times, Sir Thomas and I practice a task we haven’t done together in a while. Weeks can pass, for example, without the need for Tommy to back up. Reverse is not a natural gear for canines but service dogs learn to maneuver hindquarters first into tight spots – think sizeable dog and non-handicapped restroom stall or a busy cafe with one booth open and nowhere for him to go but under it.The only way in is backwards. If we forget to practice, I’d need to find a roomier bathroom and pass on that pastry. Practice, or what I call Reminder Training, is part of being a team. We work together. And sometimes it is hard work, but again, it’s all part of the partner package. When I’m out grocery shopping or in line at the post office and people remark on Tommy’s training, I’m still caught by surprise. A question I frequently hear is, How long did it take?  I typically smile and respond that […]
July 25, 2014

Playing Around

If all the world’s a stage, I’d like to be the playwright. I would begin by rewriting some classic scripts to bring the world of Parkinson’s to the stage. Romeo & Juliet: O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy diagnosis and refuse thy meds; Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be without a tremor. and Hark, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is getting up to pee again. Hamlet: To DBS or not to DBS? That is the question. Whether it is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of on and off times or to take arms against a sea of dyskinesia? Death of a Salesman: Willie Lowman’s name would change to Willie Slowman. Grease: Lyric shift in the Frankie Avalon Beauty School scene: Dopamine dropout, no normal movement for you. The Wizard […]
September 5, 2014

It’s About Access

A local B&B recently turned away a service dog and handler, refusing to give them a room for the night. Kudos to another handler, Lynne Emerson, for making the incident an opportunity. Rather than a How Could You Turn Away a Service Dog and His Handler glass-half-empty reaction, here is the glass-half-full response: How Would You Like a Brochure? Lynne pulled it together and I got to help (with both sides of my brain: words and art!). Feel free to print this out this two-sided, three-fold piece to educate local businesses, innkeepers, police staff, schools, family, friends. Ignorance is not bliss.
October 14, 2014

Why a Service Dog?

Sir Thomas and I recently celebrated our two-year anniversary (Yay, us!). In my time with him, I’ve learned so much about the world of service dogs. The good (How much time do you have?), the bad (Can’t ignore that their life span often runs shorter than ours), and the ugly (My body tenses simply typing the words: Fake service dog teams). My intention for this blog sparked from sharing the good. It has blossomed into a means to connect with a community of fellow service dog partners in good times and bad. It has grown to include educating and advocating in the face of the ugly. In all that Thomas and I have encountered these past twenty-four months, I am – daily – still surprised. People surprise me with their comments – good, bad and ugly. One would think I’d be getting used to the range of remarks. Most remarkably, though, […]
October 20, 2014

An Open Letter to the Chambers of Commerce

An Open Letter to the Chambers of Commerce of Villages, Towns and Cities throughout the U.S. Please Help Empower Your Member Businesses Regarding Service Dog Access  When You Can Say No to Fido In “Pets Allowed” (New Yorker, October 20 issue), retail management, staff and security personnel throughout Manhattan and Boston permitted “emotional support” animals ranging from a turtle to a snake to a turkey into their establishments.  “There’s nothing we can do about it,” says a restaurant worker in NYC. “We have to let them in.” No, you don’t. Whether you run an inn, B&B, cafe, boutique, museum, theater, work for the airlines or manage a bait store, you do not need to open your doors to every Flufffy or pet iguana sporting a vest. Know the Law What you and your staff do need to do is know the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While the law is […]
October 21, 2014

To Sir

Doug Logan posted this poem on the Young Onset Parkinson’s FB page. When I read it, I considered how blessed I am to have supportive, dearly adored caregivers in both the two-legged and four-legged varieties With the four-legged variety in mind, I asked Doug if I could share his poem.He answered., “Yes,” followed by “it is to our caregivers in whatever form that may be.” To Our Care Givers By Doug Logan Sometimes I feel as though I’m trapped in a cage, It fills me with anger, resentment and rage; This cage it is made of my own flesh and bone, It’s worse than any made of wood, steel or stone.   My limbs will all tremble as if I’m nervous or cold, I no longer write, hands won’t do as they’re told; My feet, they are heavy and make me walk slow, My face a blank canvas, no expressions will show.   I want to […]
November 4, 2014

Dames with Danes: Count on It

At the APDA Regional Conference today Lynne and I talked about our favorite topics: Willow and Sir Thomas. Equipped with a slide show on the ABCs of living with a service dog, access brochures, info sheets and SDP business cards, we tried to pass along anything that might help some people find balance with their movement disorder We fielded questions, demo’d what a mobility dog can provide and listened to various speakers, our best buddies next to us. In fact, I spent the day sandwiched between buddies: Thomas on my right and Lynne on my left. On one side, the gift I can count on each day; my special Dane  On the other, an added bonus: This yoga lady not only crossed paths with a trap-shooting gal from Detroit, but the gift of a camaraderie has grow between us. It a helpful thing, this unexpected friendship. It adds some balance to my day.. Willow and Tommy counted sheep,