Service Dog

December 16, 2014

The Dremel Incident

Since all eyes land on Sir Thomas when we’re out in the community, I take his grooming seriously. My hair, on the other hand, tends toward that ‘windswept’ look (a.k.a. ‘uncombed’) or gets tucked under any variety of hats (especially when ‘windswept’ leans toward ‘witchy’). As for my nails, there’s typically a mix of ochre and cadmium red paint spattered on my fingertips. Sir Thomas, however, leaves the house glossed and trimmed. Admittedly, he’s a handsome guy to start. But after a few brush strokes, he shines. There’s a healthy luster along his back as well as an inner glow from our one-on-one, hands-on time. He loves it, leans into it, groans contented groans Toenails are a different story. If a pair of clippers lurks somewhere in the room, he knows it, slinks away from it, quivers in a mass of drool. He’d had a nail cut too short in […]
January 6, 2015

Up in the Air with a Service Dog

Travel Tidbits from Thomas The moment Sir Thomas steps into an airport, I wonder how he functions at all with the sensory overload. Suitcase wheels clatter and whir from behind. Neon blinks in every direction. Strangers’ hands reach toward him as they push past, pull ahead and pause to unlace shoes. He cuts a wake through air thick with the drone of announcements and the deep-fried, burnt-coffee odors of the food court. Airports exude stress. I’ve learned from him that if I keep to my senses, we can keep our stress levels down. Here are some travel tips that help us from getting swept up with the hurried masses: Sit The first impulse when entering the airport is to rush through the steps of baggage check, security clearance and gate wait. I now give myself oodles of time so we can sit and regroup when needed. When entering the airport, […]
January 31, 2015

Taxing the Service Dog

If Mr. Groundhog has any sense, he’ll remain underground on his infamous day. Why risk whisker frostbite when he could snooze through to Valentine’s Day?   And if chocolate isn’t enough of a temptation to step into the cold, he’ll surely emerge by April 15 to file his taxes. The lure of a Service Dog tax deduction draws all sorts into the sunlight. And the IRS makes it easy. What? IRS and easy don’t typically appear in the same sentence. But all a taxpayer needs to provide to lop off the pesky cost of feeding and taking care of the dog is registration paperwork. Yes, yes, the ADA states that service dog handlers need not provide such documentation — licensing, certification or otherwise – and, thus, no legitimate registry exists. The IRS neglected to read that part of their fellow government agency’s regulations or perhaps they chose to pooh-pooh it. It’s […]
February 5, 2015

Spotting the Lemon, and other service dog silliness

I might have been a wee bit facetious in my most recent post. However, there may be a Calorie-alert Dog out there somewhere hovering over a plate of fries or a frozen dessert. One reason some folks can say these goofy condition names with a straight face has to do with taxes. Come April 15, Fluffy’s expenses can be deductible (see previous post). Another reason is to don Fluffy in a vest when it’s fun or convenient to bring her along to public places. There’s a third reason. People are increasingly turning to fill-in-the-blank service dogs to save them from various inabilities rather than assist with a disability. Failing to break an unhealthy habit or unpack life’s baggage are foibles for us all. This third category seems to equate the inability to move after eating an entire cheesecake with a neurological movement disorder that is eating away at one’s nerve […]
February 10, 2015

The “I” in Parkinson’s

    The other morning, I woke up wishing someone else would be me for the day, even for a few hours. I changed my mind when I realized that the person being me would get Sir Thomas for that time. Even for a few hours — even if he’s snoozing for those few hours — I couldn’t do that. I’d be salt without pepper, a hug but no kiss, action minus reaction, a lone sock. Thomas and I come as a set, work as a team, operate as one unit. With a my service dog, the “I” in Parkinson’s isn’t singled out. It’s added to par. Good days and crappy ones, pairing with my service dog brings each day above average.
February 24, 2015

Handling It

New Englanders tend toward a handle-it-on-our-own, we’ll-find-a-way-through hardiness that holds self-reliance on a pedestal as high as our current snow banks. Slam us with endless snowfall? We have shovels. More record wind chills? Throw another log on the fire. A gimpy leg and balance issues make it difficult to drive a snow blower or wield an axe. No problem, I’d planned a way to handle it earlier this winter: Confirm driveway clearing service: √ Check generator: √ Add “Chop Wood” to Honey-Do List Praise Sir Thomas each time he: Slogs through parking lot slush without concern √ Stands in ridiculously cold temperatures while I fumble with gloves to open the door √ Woofs only once at the mailman (who delivers to our door each time the mailbox gets decapitated by the plow) Last week, while my son was at school and my husband away on business, the power went out. […]
February 28, 2015


It’s been a decade living with Parkinson’s and the days before PD are tough to recall. I don’t much like admitting to that because it shows either my age, my waning memory, or that, throughout my days, symptoms are seeping into more moments than not. It’s been three years, five months and sixteen days since Sir Thomas came home and it’s impossible to recall life without him. I don’t mind admitting to that because he’s my sidekick, my four-legged cane, my mobility partner, my handsome-though-slobbery link to independence. It’s eighteen months away and Sir Thomas and I are already planning on attending the 2016 World Parkinson Congress  In the meantime, as a WPC Blogger Partner, I’m sharing stories, information and resources on PD life with a service dog. I don’t much mind because,  throughout my days, his presence has seeped joy into more moments than not. [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form] WPC Blogger […]
March 1, 2015

Dames with Danes in High School

In a recent New York Times article, Oliver Sacks reflects on his diagnosis of an incurable disease (in his case, cancer). Though, as he notes, he still has plenty to live for at 80, he recognizes that there is a younger generation to whom the world now belongs. He writes: “I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.”        Lynne (and Willow) and I (and Sir Thomas) recently met with some of those gifted young people in Greg West’s classroom at Masconomet High School in Topsfield, Massachusetts. Greg’s curriculum covers Comprehensive Health, EMT Training and Introduction to Medicine. In high school. We were impressed. Even more impressive were the students themselves. Curious, courteous and thoughtful, they listened, they questioned, they observed. We presented on service dogs, their roles, ADA regulations, access rights […]
March 7, 2015

No Fooling

This is for those who think it’s okay to slip a service vest on their dogs so they can slip into restaurants or onto planes with their pet. This is for those who wave “authentic” registered-certified-licensed service dog papers so that store owners, hotel managers or theater ticket-takers will wave them inside, doggie, too. This is for those who see no harm in pretending Fluffy is a guide, cane, hearing aid, medicine reminder for their pretend disabilities. Perhaps your furry companion will behave during the flight or sleep through dinner. Perhaps he won’t. The vest won’t keep your dog from trying to play with mine while mine is busy keeping me from falling. The documents you purchased or printed off the internet won’t keep your dog from lunging, barking, biting at strangers. Your dog would never lunge, bark or bite? Even while a stranger straps an arm down and stabs you with a needle? Or pries open […]
April 14, 2015

April with Sir T

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 […]