Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Heart Breaker

We arrived at our hotel just outside of Boston and I decided to stay in the car as Joe went in to register. I was immediately glad that I did because as Joe went into the hotel another man came out with a lease attached to a dog that looked just like our wonder-dog Eric. Though Eric has been gone now for several months, I still miss him and it was like a wonderful shock to see this pooch leave the hotel. I spoke to the guy as he passed the car window and he stopped to talk. His dog glanced up at me and I saw intellegence in it's eyes as I was checked out.

Eric was a found dog, an abused dog, who came into our lives and enriched us for 16 years. This dog, I hear was also a foundling. The guy tells me that the dog and he connected while he was a grad student in New York City, he was alone, so was the dog, that was that. I told him a bit about Eric but had to stop as I got myself all choked up. Then his wife came out of the hotel and said hello to me as she figured out, correctly, that we were talking dog.

A little girl peeked out from behind her mother's legs and said distrustfully, "Don't let him take our dog." I smiled down at her and saw that she had Down Syndrome, I told her that I wouldn't take her dog away. "That's good," she said and went over and wrapped her arms around her dog and looked defiantly up at me. I swear the dog smiled.

She was a beautiful girl. I'm bad at guessing ages but she was probably ten or eleven years old. Like her parents she was beautifully dressed and like her mother, she was stunning. She and I talked about dogs and when I told her Eric had died, she teared up and said, "Well, maybe you can have Lucy." I choked up again and thanked her for her kindness but it wouldn't be fair to Lucy to have to get used to new people. She thought, deeply, and said, "Yeah, that's right." I could tell she was relieved.

I turned back to her parents and said, "That little girl is really going to break some hearts one day." I truly didn't mean anything other than she's beautiful inside and out and she will one day be a real catch. But mom swung at me with her words, "And what do you mean by that?" I could tell she was angry.

"Whoa, Whoa," I said and explained that disability was what I was and what I did. I told her that I work with many people with Down Syndrome that were married, had jobs, were adults. I didn't see anything about her little girl that told me that this wasn't possible. She was beautiful, socially skilled, kind, what's not to like, what's not to love.

She stood there frozen for a few minutes, Dad had begun to tear up so he covered it by bending down and petting Lucy. Joe came out of the hotel and stopped. He could tell, he said later, that something had just happened. "I leave you in the car for 15 minutes and you are up to your ass in an emotional mess," he said later.

Mom came back from where ever she retreated. She smiled, said, "Thanks, I just never thought ..." and they were away.

"You OK," I asked to her retreating back.

She turned and said, "I'm not used to strangers talking about my daughter as having possibilities. I'm not used to thinking of her as an adult and being married. This has all just thrown me, I guess."

Dad scooped up Lucy and jogged back and let me pet Lucy through the car window. I thanked him.

When he left, we were both crying.

6 comments:

Michele said...

And I am crying now after reading this. Thank you for sharing this wonderful family with us.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

I would have said and done exactly as you did there :) I'm sorry you lost Eric BG x

Kei said...

Ahhhh.... yes, even as the parent of a child with Down syndrome, when I have gone up to another parent and said something heartfelt, they are unsure what the meaning is. Until I explain I have a son w/Ds. Or until my husband comes around the corner with him. And sometimes it's my hubby that will talk to a parent who stands there with their dander up until I come walking up w/William.
It always leads me to think that they were probably told of all the things their child won't do, rather than all the possibilities of what they will....
Enjoy Boston!

wendy said...

Often when I read your blogs i'm reminded of a cbc interview I heard where a man who was a priest or rabbi was being interviewed & he talked about a time before he became what he was & how one day wkg as a postal clerk & feeling like this was a nowhere job he had an interaction with a woman where she was met & seen and how small interactions can make a difference. His comment was, "We're always on holy ground". Dave, I think you teach us that every day.

e said...

wow...DOG LOVERS!! YAY!

We had one dog in the yard when my molly kate was born. She was diagnosed with DS in my 18th week, so we knew we had a special pkg coming.

Whiner, a dump dog mix of shep and something else, who had been hit by cars, shot, and yelled at every trash day in Pottersville, an unincorporated town west of nowhere, in the missouri ozarks.

Beings he adopted us, and would NOT be chained, kenneled or even have a coller...he just kinda lived in our yard, but only came inside when the temps were too severe...and he HATED that!

and yes, on the drive home every trash day we would stop and pick up anyone's "problem" regardless of whether Whiner was responsible or not.

Dog #2 came later and was larry's pride and joy from his undercover days in Kansas City. Nitro was purebred German Shep, the daughter of 2 working k-9's in KC, she was calm and kind, but refused to stay in KC when he moved down here.

Although WAY to old to fall in love, whiner and nitro were the best of friends...a lady and the tramp kind of realtionship. Nitro took care of the house, and whiner took care of the acerage. NO critter ever stepped onto the property and survived...yet we were robbed twice before Nitro came. I guess Whiner was scared of robbers.

Go figure.

Anyway, when molly was 2, Nitro was 12 and developed a brain tumor...we lost her. One week later, Whiner, also about 12 laid down under the back porch and died for no apparent reason.

I had decided 'never again' but Larry was searching online to find Nitro's blood lines, and looking at pups that were $3500.00 each! We were both grieving, but i wasn't grieving THAT much...so I too started hunting online, for the perfect dog...at a better price.

We found a kennel in Downsville, Louisianna that raised their pups just the way i would...in the house with the kids! Pedigrees tracking online to the 1800's ...these GERMAN german sheps were working dogs...cadaver dogs..law enforcement dogs and the kennel was immaculate!

I immediatly emailed the owner, and inquired into the purchase of a pup. She cautioned me about rebounding and replacing my lost dogs too soon, and then invited me to put a deposit down on a future whelping.

I wrote back, including a pic of Nitro ..who was female and sable...and told her I wanted a male, black and tan. Thanked her for her offer, but I had a child at home that needed a pup RIGHT NOW and would have to keep looking. Molly Kate was laying on Nitro in the picture I emailed.

Immediately I get a flurry of emails, and ended up being on the phone that night! It seems, that this woman, who lives in Downsville, also has a son with DS!

She TOTALLY understood my need to have a pup growing up with molly, and not only offered me a 'pick of the litter" black and tan male she was saving for her own use, but DROVE HIM UP the next weekend!

Dog Lovers are amazing!

e wilson

www.myspace.com/downsyndrome_awareness

and the kennel?


http://www.homestead.com/tofteinhundshepherds/

celticmystyc said...

Yeah..I can empathize with the woman..my girlfriends son has ds. One day while shopping a total stranger commented, "He is the cutest retard I've ever seen.." She stood there slack jaw, DID that woman call her son a retard??? And his big brother was standing there too, "What's a retard?"
You begin to build a defense wall around you and your children, you learn to slam it back and worse, you begin to dread going out because you get sick of the negativity. More need to see the positive, like you did...