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 don't.

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.


Aeryn said...

Gorgeous post. ^_^

I have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and I am currently too exhausted & brain fogged to work or even volunteer.

For about seven and a half years before I was diagnosed, I pushed myself to go into work even when I was really sick with very bad colds, influenza, recovering from diarrhoea, etc.

I would drag myself into work because my boss would be angry if I took time off, because we had deadlines...

Moreover, I was constantly getting sick from over-work, over-stress, and nowhere near enough rest or relaxation time.

I don't know if I would be as sick/exhausted now if I had rested when I had needed to back then,

but I am now a big believer in people resting/healing while ill.

ADR said...

Once more, just what I needed to hear. I very often forget that I need to just take a break and have fun once in awhile--that my wife needs the same thing--that my son with Down syndrome needs the same thing--and that his younger brother needs the same thing.

Thanks, Dave, for the beautifully written reminder!

Dawn said...

A few years ago I was taking a Sociology course at McGill and I remember a discussion about work and how people who do a great deal of physical work often think that those who hold "desk jobs" don't work. The prof talked about physical currency and emotional or intellectual currency, and how if you use up all of your emotional currency you can end up exhausted too. Ever since then I have liked the concept of emotional currency.

On another note, a Canadian Tire in Calgary was having problems with mice recently. They had used traps and poison but that didn't solve the problem. They got 3 cats and the mice were under control finally. BUT, a customer complained about the mice and the powers that be, in their infinite wisdom, determined that cats are not a recognized form of pest control so the store had to "fire" the cats. It's sad that hardworking service animals aren't always recognized :)

Betty said...

OMG, that is so beautiful, Thank you.

Andrea S. said...

I myself sometimes have a tendency to go into denial when I'm sick: "I'm not *that* sick, I can still work as usual ... well, mostly as usual ... well, partly ... well, a little bit ... really!" One of these days I'll learn to listen to my body better ....

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

It sounds like you are feeling better - good to hear.

What gorgeous dogs! Thanks for the link to the video.

Thanks for the reminder to take the time that we need to be healthy. We talk about adjusting our pacing to accommodate the people we support - but I wonder how we can do that for others and not for ourselves when we need it?

Take really good care Dave - you are loved admired and needed!


theknapper said...

I love this video. Think you wrote about this before about therapy dogs needing a break.....a good reminder to all of us.

miss kitten said...

i am a diabetic. beside me sits a wee little black poodle. last december, we adopted her from a local poodle rescue, and my husband was happy that i wouldnt be alone all day long. a couple weeks after we got her home, she had this ....episode.

she was chuffing at me (she doesnt really bark) and pawing, and jumping on me, then running to the kitchen and back. now, i knew i had fed her, and it wasnt till i stood up (or tried to) that i realized i was having a low blood sugar situation. when that happens to me, it hits very suddenly and it takes me a bit to realize whats happening.

she can tell when my blood sugar crashes. she has given me something no one else *can*, a bit of freedom. we're sending out her paperwork today to have her registered as an official service dog. she doesnt have to do her duty often, but she's priceless to me and my freedom every single day.

she's six pounds of absolute devotion to me, sleeps with us at night, and finally has started showing us the affection we show her. she's a good dog. and even if she had never shown this talent, she would be a good dog and priceless to us.

as the car magnet i picked up this week says, "who rescued who?"

Rachel said...

Newfies are lovely dogs. (Except for the drool. *g*) I'd never thought of one as a service dog before, but I can see that working out well.

It's kind of funny that I tend to like the really big dogs, being small myself.

Belinda said...

What a heart warming video. I adore dogs and think they are emissaries from heaven! Love them, love them, love them.

Schmulie said...

Loved the video. As a kid I had a newfie dog named Samantha (Sam for short). She was great...miss her. Thanks for posting the video...what a beautiful dog!

Shan said...

Yes, agreed...every time I see your note saying 'no blog today' I think "Good!"

Remember Superman's fortress of solitude - you can't save the world every single day.

Melissa said...

Everyone needs a break! From work, from home, from blogging!