Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Paws to Reflect

We were driving home from work, coming down Yonge Street, and we were stopped at a light. Suddenly there appeared in front of us one of the world's smallest dogs. The dog was walking with incredible purpose, eyes on the small parkette on the other side of the road. Attached to the mini-mutt was a retractable leash stretched taut. On the other end was a big fellow riding an equally big power wheelchair. It looked like a very low budget Santa fitted out with One Tiny Sleigh-dog. Joe and I both started laughing. The fellow in the chair looked over at us and saw us laughing. He said something that we couldn't hear because the window was up.

I rolled mine down and he said again, 'He's sure that he's pulling me across the road. I let him believe it, he needs to feel like he is helping out.' We all laughed again and the dog, with dignity fully intact, was sitting at the park waiting for the lead to pull the chair the rest of the way.

A few days ago we were coming home from the store and my chair was loaded down. A bag of groceries hung from the back. I held a huge and heavy bag in one hand and steered the chair with the other. Joe said, 'Let me carry something, I don't want to use you as a pack mule.' I said, in all seriousness, 'You do so much for me, let me do this for you.' And he did.

He did because he knew I needed to do what I was doing.

Sometimes, I think we as disabled people can lose our way - always being the person receiving, never being required to give back, to contribute, to make ourselves necessary. The only antidote to the addiction created by receiving is giving. I need to take that antidote. And even though, Joe walking along side a fat guy in a wheelchair covered in bags, may look as silly as a little dog pulling along someone a hundred times his size, it doesn't matter.

Because I need to feel like I'm helping out.


Susan, Mum to Molly said...

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but you paint an awesome picture with far fewer words Dave...

Love it.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Love the image of this little but mighty dog doing his bit.

It is too true, we often stereotype people with disabilities as "takers" but not givers. The reality is that we all give and take.


lillytigre said...

Hahahahaha great story and my smaller then average service dog would agree with that sentiment. Question for the group at large cause I'm curious. I have a rather big 4 wheeled scooter. I bought the bigger once because I use my scooter the way those people with the ability to drive use cars. So I wanted the stability so I could cover more ground!!! As a result I'm able to do more things without either taking a bus or waiting to find someone to drive me. Yay Freedom but here's the new issue that has cropped up because of it. I have a neighbor who is ill with cancer. She has often been kind enough to drive me places when I needed a ride and she knows that with my new wheels I can run errands for her on days when she is feeling poorly. Several times now when I've run to the store or wherever someone will point out that I A should have asked for help to get what I needed. Or B I should most certainly NOT have neighbors or friends asking me for help because they should be helping me.... ummm judgmental much?? I stopped to put an item in the food bank box at the store the other day and these 2 older ladies were whispering to themselves that I shouldn't worry about helping others but I could probably get on the food bank list if I wanted cause you know I am handicapped. UGH I am ashamed to say I kind of lost my cool with those ladies. I wasn't rude or anything but I called them out on it. They had no idea why they where even being hurtful Does this happen to anyone else when you try to help others out and if so how do you handle it? It really makes me feel less then when people tell me I shouldn't make the effort and its one of the few things I don't know how to respond to. :(

Belinda said...

Ha ha! What a heartwarming post. But you can't compare yourself to a small dog! :)

As a LOVER of dogs, I loved the picture of that doggie with purpose!

Andrea S. said...


I have been lucky that this has not yet happened to me so far. But I know it does happen: I once read a letter in some advice column from a hearing high school student who was apparently disgusted about some deaf girl at his school who he thought had a crush on him: she kept trying to help him with various things and he thought that this was ridiculous because others should be helping her as a deaf person, and not her helping others.

I wasn't the person answering his letter, but I would have been sorely tempted to advise him to do the girl a big favor by not dating her because she clearly deserved someone better than this obnoxious twit.

Some people seem to think that certain people can provide only one service to the world--by being a passive recipient of "help" and "charity" from others, thereby allowing others to feel good about themselves for helping. For some reason it seems to offend some people that even people who receive a lot of help still have a lot they can do to help others in exchange.

Since I have not yet encountered this in my own life I haven't figured out a way to resolve it. But I wanted to be sure you saw at least one comment from someone here who understands what you mean, and understands your frustration!

Dave Hingsburger said...


I have had a variation of that ... people surprised that I want to be on the 'I'll help list'. It's like they see my need to get help but they don't see my need to give help. I always just simply say, 'no, I want to, I love helping out.' Not a snappy come back but it's true.

Ella Wein said...

What a great laugh this is..A am going to show this to my friends... I Imagined Christmas then cutie dog is pulling santa sled.. A Dog Walker really do needs to pay attention and stay on the safe side of the road...