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Amy F. Quincy Author/Freelance Writer

Month

March 2013

Weather Woes

dreamstimecomp_22701173Okay, this is ridiculous. I was planning some nice Easter post, spring has sprung, that sort of thing, but I’ve just come in from walking Frankie and I’m freezing. What’s going on? It’s practically April! Enough already! I realize most of you are reading this on the weekend, and since we’re in Florida, it’ll probably have warmed up by then. Heck, you may already be running your air conditioner! But right now, it’s cold. Colder than I even remember it being this winter!

Frankie loves it. Does a little fur really keep dogs so much warmer? I’m bundled like I’m expecting a blizzard, and you don’t see me dancing for joy, do you?

Suffice it to say, Conehead has recovered. Seven seemed to be the magic number. That’s the day he was himself again. I can’t believe I ever felt bad for him. Yesterday, he attacked one of my moving boxes, despite the cone, and I was picking pieces of wet cardboard out of the thing forever. Now he’s running around into walls, bushes and things, misjudging the clearance he needs, and it doesn’t even faze him.

So while Mr. Frisky relishes the cold air, I just want to stay warm under the covers. As I write this, Frankie and Bella are both outside, basking in the sun, which they seem to like to do whenever it’s cold. With no expectations or preconceived notions of what the weather is supposed to be like, they just go with the flow. There’s probably a lesson, a point to made, in there somewhere, but I’m too cold to make it. Author Jodi Picoult wrote in a novel, “There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations.” And since we can’t improve the weather … You get the idea. Happy Easter.

Cruel and Unusual

130323_0016Frankie had surgery last week. I realize other dog owners are used to these strange instruments of torture, but the cone is new to me.

He had a minor skin growth that the vet wanted to biopsy (it was benign), and as a result he had three itty bitty little stitches. All this resulted, of course, in his having to wear the cone contraption for ten days. Ten days. Doesn’t that seem excessive? In this day and age of dissolving stitches?

What can I say? I feel bad for the guy. On the annoying scale, the human equivalent is probably something akin to having your jaw wired shut. Except with a person, you can say, “Hey Joe, we’re fixing your jaw.” I can’t imagine what Frankie thinks is going on. Or why the hell this has been done to him.

Although maybe he’s been clued in by the neighbor’s dog, Boris, in that non-verbal way dogs have. The neighbor tells me Boris has worn the cone twice before. It just looked like a lot of sniffing to me, but I can imagine the conversation:

Boris: Oh, man! You’re in the cone!

Frankie: What is this crazy thing? I can’t scratch. I can’t lick. I get kibble all stuck to it. What did I do to deserve this?

Boris: Dude, been there, done that. I feel your pain, brother.

Mom’s been taking care of him, which involves giving him pain pills in peanut butter and making sure he doesn’t get his head stuck anywhere. At my house, halls and doorways are no longer wide enough for both of us. He stays beside me as usual, and I hear his cone scraping the drywall. He scrapes the street, too, on walks. He likes to trot alongside me sniffing the ground. Now you can hear us coming.

After battling the cone the first day, he seems resigned to it now. He’s adjusted. I, on the other hand, am still getting used to it. I can’t wait till it comes off. I think I’m depressed for him. My next book will be Doggy Dependent: You’re Not Okay, I’m Not Okay.

With limited access to his mouth, he gets in a lot less trouble. No rooting through the garbage or the kitty box. No running across the apartment with the toilet paper in his mouth. No destroying cardboard boxes. I even think he barks less. Maybe he doesn’t like the noise reverberating around in there. I never thought I’d say it, but I can’t wait to have my little misbehaver back. Until then, try not to laugh if you see us. I don’t want him getting a complex.

What Are We Saving For?

dreamstimecomp_26350157Is anyone else exhausted? It’s only midway through the week (last week to you all) so perhaps I’ll still adjust, but I’m all out of whack.

I realize I get up at an insane hour (4:30 a.m.) anyway, but now it feels like rising in the dead of night. And I know what the problem is — I can’t get to bed early enough because the sun’s still shining! I’m an eight hour girl. Any less and I feel like I’m slogging through mud with my clothes on just to make it through the day.dreamstimecomp_11063250

I take my cues from nature. I start thinking about dinner at dusk. But now, it doesn’t occur to me to stop working until 8:00 p.m. and I’m not done eating until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m.! Screwy, I tell you.

And the logic behind this madness? Politicians wanted the country to conserve energy around the First World War. (Really, there’s talk that our president at the time, Woodrow Wilson, just wanted to play golf into the evening hours. That’s a bit selfish don’t you think?)

Seriously, any benefit there might have been 100 years ago is outweighed by the fact that people now run their air conditioners longer, actually using more energy. And it’s dangerous to human health! Studies have shown there’s a spike in traffic accidents as the entire country runs around on dark morning roads groggy and sleep-deprived. dreamstimecomp_12835442And more importantly, farmers are reporting that their cows are definitely unhappy with the shift. They don’t like waiting an extra hour to be milked. Come on, people. Care about the cows.

Frankie, at least, remains unconcerned with it all. He doesn’t take his cues from nature. I think he takes them from me. Mr. Bionic Ears wakes when he hears me up, regardless of how quiet I think I am. So I still have to let him out of his crate at 7:00 a.m.  It doesn’t matter to him that it’s pitch-black outside, and crickets are chirping instead of birds. He trots out all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, looking expectantly at his leash when there’s no way I can safely walk him for at least another half-hour.

Don’t get me wrong, I like sunshine as much as the next person. So why don’t we make this time the only time? It’s the back and forth that drives me crazy. Pick one already and stop the insanity! Until that happens, I guess I’ll trudge on. I just might be an hour late.

The Challenge

130309_0005This past Saturday (yesterday to many of you) was The Brooks Rehabilitation Challenge Mile, one of the many smaller “runs” hosted alongside the Gate River Run. There are several reasons why I like participating in the event (this was my second year — read last year’s post here).

Firstly, I like hanging with this group of people because I’m free to be myself. People laugh with me instead of making a huge deal out of it when I pick up a little speed on an unseen decline. It’s nothing here to have muffin crumbs on my face or be seen peeling a banana with my teeth.130309_0008

130309_0004But more importantly, this event reminds me that it’s about encouragement, not competition. I couldn’t help but notice this as I watched people of all abilities cross the finish line. When one gentleman, who had made it most of the way in his wheelchair rose to walk the last several feet, the crowd cheered his name for what felt like a good five minutes. I think most of us would rather have our ability back, but it’s certainly true that when the challenge is tougher, the victory is sweeter.

Canine Cousins (Twice Removed)

130301_0008Frankie is officially a service dog.

I realize that’s laughable to those of you who really know him, but nevertheless, he is a service dog. And before you ask — no, he doesn’t do anything for me. He doesn’t pick up dropped items (unless it’s food and that’s to eat it). He can’t open any doors. And on public transportation, he’s more likely to climb over me trying to stick his head out the window than sit quietly beside me. If I fell out of the wheelchair, he’d probably look at me like “Now what?” instead of getting help. The idea of having a service dog that doesn’t actually provide a service used to bother me. Until now.

Several weeks ago, some friends and I attended the ceremony of what is, in essence, a service dog school. We watched the “puppies” (usually a year and a half old) matriculate into the training program and fully trained dogs graduate out. These dogs were the real deal. Imagine having close to 50 dogs in one building with no barking. Granted, they all looked alike (black or golden, labs or retrievers). And you wouldn’t want to try to pick these pups out of a police line up. But then, you wouldn’t have to. These were well-behaved dogs.

At the Ceremony
At the Ceremony

At first, I watched sheepishly, imagining my own “service dog” going ballistic in the place, barking at other dogs and jumping up on people. These dogs seemed to have nothing in common with Frankie. They were all distant (very distant) relatives. But as I watched a video presentation, I realized most of the receipients of these “real service dogs” didn’t have tasks on the top of their lists either. Most of these (mainly) special needs children just wanted a friend. And the parents of these children wanted to help them socialize with other children. To help them not feel so alone.

Dogs can do that.

I was fortunate enough to have an able-bodied childhood. To not meet with disability until I was well into my thirties. But even so, I can relate. I can relate to being the odd man out, to stares, or even worse, avoidance. And that’s just in the adult world! Children can be so much worse. Even I was scared of them, gunning my power chair past their school bus stop near my house. Until, I went by with Frankie.

Dogs are the great equalizers. The kids were so busy petting Frankie and asking questions, they didn’t seem to notice I was in a wheelchair. And I’m sure I wouldn’t have been approached by half the neighbors I know, without him by my side. Plus, I know I wouldn’t be getting out as much.

So, I recognize there’s a huge value in companionship. Of service dogs that don’t complete tasks. And of little guys like Frankie. But, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that every woman with a toy poodle in her purse run out and get a doctor’s note to take Fido (or Fifi) everywhere. Though Frankie can accompany me most places, I’m only planning on taking him to the pier. He’ll be the one in the blue vest, barking at the birds.

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