Thursday, April 11, 2013

Merlin's Legacy

Three years ago, as Merlin was transitioning to four wheels and was in his final year with DM, I was also making a transition. I took early retirement from my teaching position and joined the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP) which allowed me five years of working half time. I opted for fall off (living in Washington) and spring on (living and teaching in Fresno.)

That first fall, of course, I had no problem filling my time. Merlin needed lots of assistance. Besides walking the other three dogs twice daily, I took Merlin on at least one walk and on various excursions. His care was all-consuming.

But the second fall, 2011, left me more at loose ends. After doing nothing for as long as I could stand, I turned my hand to completing the book that had started as a handful of informational pdfs for the Wheelcorgis list. What better way to honor Merlin's memory than to share the knowledge I'd gained (and that of the many Wheelcorgi members who have shared so much useful information)?

I rewrote existing pdfs on carts, on adjusting to the cart, on clicker training, and on stages of DM, and by the end of the fall, I had a manuscript.

My initial plan was to self-publish on Amazon. I visited with Leo Notenboom and talked about his experience doing that (very successfully.) I decided, though, that I wanted the book to benefit CorgiAid. I brought the idea to the CorgiAid Board in January, 2012 and Cindy Read signed on as editor of the book.

The next months were taken up with rewriting, editing, and filling in the many pictures needed. Calls went out to the Wheelcorgis list to supply photos. My sister Betsy was recruited to sew a prototype toolbag as I photographed the process. My sister Susan, Leo, and my friend Susan were all recruited to take more photos. Artist friends were drafted into drawing figures for the book.

In September, Teresa's corgi Zhoie went down with IVDD, and, always opportunistic, I got Teresa to snap a photo of poor Zhoie, hunched painfully, awaiting surgery. A photo didn't really show her degree of anxiety or suffering, so artist Nancy Eckert turned it into a drawing, emphasizing the features that a corgi owner would see and recognize as extreme pain. (Zhoie DID make a full recovery!)

Our next job was finding a person with the skills to do the layout. We asked for volunteers and found Kay Daniel. Cindy and I were thrilled when she agreed to take on the task. Wheelcorgi owner Julia deBeauclair took on the cover design, and we were into the final steps.

Everything takes longer than we plan for, but the book is finally about to go to the printer. I am very, very excited and so happy with how the book has turned out, and I think you will be, too.

I am happy to announce that the new book “Corgis on Wheels: Understanding and Caring for the Special Needs of Corgis with Degenerative Myelopathy or Disk Disease” is ready for ordering from CorgiAid at The discounted price directly from CorgiAid is $25 plus shipping.

Thanks to all of these volunteers who generously assisted with this project, all net proceeds will benefit CorgiAid, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides support for medical and other expenses for corgis and corgi mixes in rescue and that has a cart loan program matching both owned and rescue corgis with donated carts.

Remember, the special preorder discount price of $22.50, 25% off the list price, is available only through May 5, so order a copy for yourself and one for your veterinarian now. For more information and to order by mail or online using PayPal, go to

After publication, the list price will be $29.95 and the discounted price through the CorgiAid website only will be $25.00. If you can’t preorder now but intend to purchase soon, email so we can plan enough copies in the first printing.