Saturday, March 26, 2011
Dog Gone Day
A long while back I was checking into a hotel and before they completed registration the clerk looked at me and said, 'There's something you need to know before we check you in.' His tone was serious and I immediately wondered if there had been a break out of the plague on the top floor or something. I listened as he explained that the next day there was going to be huge conference and show for Newfoundland dog owners and breeders. The hotel would be, and already was partially, full of owners and dogs. All guests that were not associated with the show were being informed so that if they had a mortal fear of dogs (or small horses) they could make an informed decision. Me, I was excited.
I've always wanted a Newfie dog but Joe would never agree. I think he figured that he had enough to deal with given he already had an 'oversized' person. The cost of feeding both dog and man would require an immediate change in employment strategies. So. No dog. At least no Newfie dog for us.I indicated to the clerk that I was more than happy to check in and even requested information on the showing. The next day I was speaking on disability issues and wanted to see if I could get to meet some dogs during the lunch break.
The next day we did manage to eat while wandering through booths selling Newfie dog tee shirts and tee shirts for Newfie dogs; mugs, plates, cards, all emblazoned with the profile of the noble breed were available. On my wander I listened to a woman do a short presentation on the work that her dog did as a 'therapy dog' in a group home for people with disabilities. We chatted afterwards and I told her that I was speaking on the issue of disabilities in the hotel conference room and asked her if she'd come on over and do the same talk there. My topic was 'touch' and hearing about the use of animals to meet deep needs seemed appropriate. She readily agreed.
The audience sat and listened to her and many of them, unfamiliar with the breed of dog, were awestruck at size of the dog. By the time she was finished I think many were more impressed with the dog's heart than his heft. It was a cool opportunity. She and I met afterwards at the bar and chatted informally. The dog sat beside us and, with her permission, Joe and I both gave him tons of attention. He loved it. We loved it. It was good.
She told us something interesting. She said that she had to very much make sure that the dog always got a break from his work with those with disabilities. She maintained that he carried his responsibilities so heavily that he would become depressed, and sometimes even slightly hostile, if he wasn't given routine breaks to just be a dog, to just romp and play and forget that pain exists. 'Dogs are like people,' she said, 'they need days of rest. They need to relax as much as they need to work. Dogs need purpose. Dogs need play. So do we.'
I vowed I'd always remember that.
I'll bet you don't either.
I know there is need. I know there are battles that need to be fought. I know.
But I must remember that those who rely on my judgement need to have me at my best.. Decisions made while tired, actions taken while exhausted can't be taken back. There are sometimes no second chances. I need to care for myself so that I can care for others. I can forget.
When I forget, I get sick.
So, I took Friday to get better. I slept. We made a vegetable stew and let the fragrance of the marjoram and basil and chervil fill the apartment. We watched episodes of Lost. We made a trip out to the tea shop and had a cup of hot tea and a nice chat with the owner guy. And in between all of those things I rested. And I felt myself getting better and better as each hour passed.
I felt like a dog, lazing in the sun.
And that is, I think, what the doctor ordered.