Friday, August 6, 2010

Support- and the lack thereof

On Corgis on Wheels we have discussed support- where you find the emotional and physical support you need as you care for your disabled dog. Family, friends, physical therapists, and veterinarians were all named.

Today's blog is not about support, it is about lack of support.

Without getting into too many details, I took a car trip with two other people, one of whom this story is about. I expected the trip to take only three hours, and planned to leave at 8 am, so thought Merlin would be good left home during that time. Well, as often happens, we left over an hour later, and things took longer, and instead of being home before noon, we were still 45-50 minutes away at 12:30 PM. At that point, I expressed my concern about getting home quickly.

We got into the car, and this other person announced we were going to stop and fill up a gas can for a boat on the way home. To be charitable, I don't know that she initially did this just to provoke me, she could simply not have understood the urgency. I objected, suggesting she could go back and get gas after dropping me at home, which is about five minutes from the gas station. I explained that I was concerned that Merlin would have to pee and would end up lying in it, and I needed to get home as fast as possible.

At that point, instead of agreeing and expressing concern over Merlin, this person insisted she was going to stop for gas if she felt like it, and told me I could call and get someone else to let him out. I explained it wasn't a matter of letting him out, someone needed to put him in the cart and express him, and no one knew how. She said I just didn't want to stop because I wanted my own way, and as the driver, she would do what she felt like.

I realized soon that she was making sport of upsetting me. Nowhere in her game was any concern for Merlin, he simply didn't enter into the equation. To her, the argument was just like an earlier one about gay marriage, it had nothing to do with Merlin or my feelings, it was just sport. She has no empathy for animals and can't understand why someone else would bother to go out of her way to care for a dog. It's possible she thought the argument was just a game for me, too.

Now I know this isn't really about DM or Merlin. But it is the existence of people like her that makes searching for support both difficult and important. Difficult because one never knows the reaction another person might have to concern about a dog, and important because loving, supporting, caring individuals are needed to counteract the selfish and uncaring ones. I'm lucky that this insensitive person is not someone I see every day, and really feel for those who have spouses or children or parents who fail to understand their care and concern for their dog.

I did get home in time to take Merlin out, and he definitely had to go. Bottom line, there will always be insensitive people, who lack the experience to understand and the capacity to empathize with animals or with the feelings of other people. And I am glad I am not one of them. And I think, in the long run, those of us with the capacity to love and care for an dog, and to empathize with the feelings and needs of other living creatures, human or not, are the lucky ones.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 2010 Update

Merlin has had a good month. July 4th weekend was spent at my sister's in Ronald, Washington, to avoid insane fireworks on Whidbey, and Merlin did a bit of walking, some sleeping, and got a nice visit to the Cle Elum street fair. He got a lot of attention in his stroller and cart, plus good treats.

In July he went to the Bayview Farmers Market in just his stroller. What a difference! While some people thought he was cute, others called him spoiled and lazy. I explained that he could not walk. We talked about this on Wheelcorgis, and one member said she got the same reaction when her disabled daughter was in a stroller as opposed to a wheelchair. People see the wheelchair as cute, the stroller as spoiling the pet (or child.) Hey, folks, when you see what looks like a child or a dog too big for a stroller, consider that just maybe he or she cannot walk!

In July, also, blackberries on the dike start ripening, and Merlin's interest in walks triples. He literally runs to get to the berries, and even after he conks out and is in the stroller he barks for more.

We finished out July with the Pacific Northwest Corgi Picnic in Woodinville. Merlin was allowed all the attention and mooching for treats that he could manage, and you can see by the photo that he had a great time!

Physically, he is doing about the same. He is still strong enough to run in his four-wheel cart, but moves around very little outside the cart, and only really uses it for walks, with leash assistance. He can only pee on his own in the cart, same with poop, at least, no control there and sometimes he needs to be expressed for both. He is licking his front paws a lot so they look awful but he always has, he just did it for less time before. Appetite is great (he is a corgi) and bark still going strong.