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 […]
June 5, 2014

Mayan Crossroad

  My friend, Cindy, got me thinking. In her blog about living with Parkinson’s (http://peoplewithparkinsons.com/), 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 […]
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 […]
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.