Art? Literature? Travel? All are fine topics to wrap a conversation around. Politics? Not so much, for me. There are times, however, when a discussion must include the very topic that sits in the living room like the proverbial pink elephant. The only way around is through. And my only way through is with the help of my service dog. Climate of Fear Fear factors rise with each news story of the verbal and physical attacks occurring at Trump gatherings. Disagree and you might become disabled. It seems not to matter that rules are broken or laws overstepped. For a wee sense of balance, counter those images with clips of Sanders on stage, arm-in-arm with musicians singing, “This Land Is Your Land.” It makes me wonder if Trump protesters could be so easily tossed out if, linked together at the elbows in a human chain, they held no signs but […]
Look who’s turning five. Among the myriad causes for celebration of such a marvelous event lingers one I’d rather see fizzle. No. Die. And quickly. Sir Thomas’s fifth year among us marks three-and-a-half years of partnering with me. In that time, strangers have been taking our picture. That’s 42 months. Make that 182 weeks. Shall I continue? Okay, in days, we’re talking 1,274. Surely, you say, his handsome face isn’t snapped on someone’s cell phone every day? No. There have been, however, numerous days when more than one click of some unknown camera captures our likeness. Therein lies my issue with the puparazzi. First, it is not our ‘likeness’ that is being captured. Second, consider that word capture. Our images adorn the digital photo albums of people’s vacations (tourist camera-at-ready stroll-by shots), individual’s wow-ya collections (the stop-and-comment crowd who must show their neighbor, brother-in-law, dentist’s sister’s uncle) who pull out […]
Remember that old cartoon character with a little animated devil whispering snarky remarks into one ear and a tiny angel on the other side saying kind words? I am that character every time I grocery shop. The other day, I backed my cart and turned, Sir T in step beside me, when the young couple stopped and stared. “Oh, I won’t pet him,” she said, not to me so much as to Thomas, based on the focus of her gaze. The husband locked eyes on him, too, adding, “We love the big dogs.” Devil: “They love dogs? They hovered over him baring their teeth. That’s totally intimidating in doggie world. Did they not see that his tail is completely tucked? And where’s the love in interrupting his work?” Angel: “They meant no harm and were simply being friendly.” I went with the angel and offered a quick smile, which I […]
The flu isn’t particular. It didn’t skip me because of the Parkinson’s. Nope, an equal-opportunity virus, it has me lying on the couch coughing up a lung same as anyone else in its path. I could blame holiday travel strain. Or not. The past week in San Francisco presented a mix of utter delights (restaurants at every turn – Burmese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Californian) and unusually warm and sunny walks (across the Golden Gate Bridge and along Castro Street). Admittedly, there were upended schedules and unpredictable circumstances. But what traveler doesn’t face a few obstacles? The balancing act between being away from home and being on an adventure, I’ve learned, requires adaptations. To keep the scales tilting toward the joyful, for example, I factor in nap times and often pack my own blanket (my PD gets me tangled up in puffy duvets). Among a litany of modifications, the most helpful has […]
We lost one of our own this week. Wayne didn’t die from Parkinson’s. But he did soldier through living with Parkinson’s, which, to me, means he died a war hero. I didn’t know Wayne well, but I did know two aspects about him. One is that he battled it all and then some, having a variety of medical conditions. The other is that he had a sparkle in his look, as though behind the dusty blue of his eyes was an enormous filter that sifted through the muck for those shiny moments of fun and humor. That quality likely got him through the daily skirmishes with PD. There are ten million of us worldwide (according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation) who make up the ground troops in combat with rigidity, dystonia, dizziness, dyskinesia, insomnia, meds that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. April is Parkinson’s Awareness month. So, in addition to […]
In the fall, ECare Diary, an online site for caregivers, interviewed me on the role service dogs for people with movement disorders. (Click here for the interview.) Following up, a listener asked what may seem a simple question: What’s involved in taking care of a service dog. The answer, which in some ways is never fully complete because a great deal depends on the dog, was far too involved to answer in a few short sentences. I was invited as a guest blogger to post my answer, and here it is: Taking Care of Each Other .
If you have a service dog and want to continue to have your access rights backed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you’d best phone your Representative in Congress. Today. The ADA grants access to all Americans. Movie theater, bank, café, laundromat: all Americans can enter. The “ADA Education and Reform Act” (H.R. 620) places business interests ahead of all Americans. ‘Reform’ means change toward improvement. The ADA is good, no change needed as it provides equal access. This reform bill, however, is not. It will re-form access requirements. Disabled and can’t get access to a public place? Write a letter of complaint. That’s a change, alright. Don’t let it happen. Please call your rep and ask that this bill be stopped from ever becoming law. Ask that it be stopped from even going to the full House for a vote (the House Judiciary Committee meets Thursday morning). […]
I’m baaaaaack. It’s a New Year, the whirlwind transition to a new canine partner is behind in 2018, and I’m out and about with a second service dog by my side (it amazes me I am fortunate enough to be teamed with a second service dog). Yes, I’m back, complete with the stories. Some of them lean toward sweet and I’m back could be heard in the same tone as though coming home after too-long a journey. Other tales make me cringe and I’m back conjures up images and audio of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Among them, of course: the inevitable saddle comments. Regardless, I’m back in the saddle again. So, please come back as I continue to share these stories in order to help, hope, educate, advocate, learn.
How businesses like the local coffee shop can help reduce service dog fraud I’m seated at Starbucks with my chai latte (almond milk) grande, scone, extra napkins. My service dog, curled up on his mat beside me, sighs. We’re content in our corner, which has me wondering how it got so complicated. Not the tea. Green or black, with bagel or brioche, the simple fact is that it is pleasant here. No surprises. Just what this customer wants. An untrained dog running amok would cancel out the pleasantries. Like the diners in a California bistro recently, I’d find another establishment for my tea break. The dog in the booth beside those diners lounged on the seat until a plate of fries arrived, which he then snarfed off the table. I’d also be among the no-repeat customers in a building in Massachusetts where, while on the elevator, a vested mini-dog […]
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 […]