Body = Bad. Food = Delicious. Dog = Good.

I think most people with disabilities feel guilty about taking advantage of accommodations at one point or another. I won’t get into what I think plants that seed now; that’s another whole article. But I really don’t think I’m alone in that.

There are days when I’m getting around so well that I feel guilty about using Disabled Parking even with my chair and dog. There are times when I feel a little bad that I don’t have to pay at the parking meter. I wonder sometimes if I stole a stellar service dog from someone who might have needed her more. 

Then, other days, I’m reminded of exactly why accommodations are in place, and why I need my Bright. Days like today, when my left hip hurts for no reason that’s been revealed to me, and my right shoulder feels like it’s going to catch on fire every time I make a rotating motion. A rotating shoulder is highly necessary for wheelchair propulsion, you know.

Bright mitigated both of those issues for me in different ways today; the obvious is that I can just grab onto her harness and hitch a ride rather than aggravate my shoulder. But sometimes I can’t anticipate when I’m going to need help.

Today, I had leftovers from lunch in the passenger’s seat of the car. When I got back to work from my lunch date, I pulled into my spot, painfully unloaded my wheelchair, and breathed a sigh of relief when I was safely seated. Unloading my chair is ALWAYS a little risky since I have terrible balance, but with a sore hip, it’s worse.

After I got Bright out and closed the door, I realized I’d left my lunch in the car, and I needed to take it inside and put it in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, I’d parked too close to the curb to get between it and the car, but too far away to reach into the car from the sidewalk. If it hadn’t been so delicious, I’d probably been a wasteful jerk and just left it there, but as it stood, I had to preserve that food for future consumption.

Ugh. Stress.

I was feeling irritated because I’d had it on my mind right up until I got out of the car, then forgot. If I had just gotten the bag while I was still sitting in the driver’s seat…now I was going to have to park my chair, stand up on my sore hip, walk to the door and get it open and the food out, turn around and get back to my chair, and get seated without a fall again, all while holding a leash and handling Bright. I know it sounds like I’m dramatizing something very simple, but it really feels that complicated sometimes.

Bright. To. The. Rescue.

Instead of all that, I got up on the sidewalk from which I could just barely reach the car door, opened it, and told Bright, “Up.” She put her front paws on the passenger seat of the car. I said, “Get.” Without missing a beat, she grabbed the bag, and came back to my side, tail wagging, looking very proud.

What a girl.

What a girl.

Suddenly, my dramatic, annoying, frustrating moment turned into something I could write about. :)

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12 thoughts on “Body = Bad. Food = Delicious. Dog = Good.

  1. I hope you don’t spend a ton of time on those thoughts. The simple fact, as you stated, is that you can’t predict when you will need the accommodations, and some days the needs are going to be greater than other. As a relatively healthy/abled body person I don’t think a thing about it. Not all disabilities are visible, and even before I became part of the assistance dog world I knew that people with disabilities have good, bad, and better days. I am just amazed at the time people have time to worry about what ever one else is doing or as I have heard “getting away with.” To those people I say let it go – Karma already has all that taken care of.
    Maybe conditions and diseases should be more thoughtful and schedule out crappy days with you – say maybe every third Tuesday and every other Friday afternoon? =) If that was the case then maybe it would be different but until that day comes I hope that you can find away to not worry about that again. I am sure it is easier said than done.

    • Thanks for your level-headedness. I know that the majority of the population sees things as you do, but there’s always that loud, opinionated crowd that’s not so thoughtful. I appreciate your point of view.

  2. What a great dog!! It’s amazing what they can do. My dog, Hurley, is a therapy dog (which people often confuse with service dogs and I have to explain the difference). I’m always amazed at his ability to know which folks in the hospital or nursing home we visit need him the most and go straight for them instead of just the people who are most eager to pet him. Dogs are so intuitive and smart! I’m so glad you and Bright have each other, and look forward to reading more of your adventures!

  3. I share many of these same thoughts, and have also had those moments when I realize how truly useful my dog is for me – Today Cassius carried something I couldn’t easily pick up through my building ‘s front door, up the elevator and all the way to my apartment looking utterly pleased with himself for doing it.

  4. Wow Alex! Very vivid writing and a powerful message. Thank you for giving us a small glimpse into your world. Sometimes we should read, be quiet, and think about what we just read. This is one of those times. We have so much to learn from you. Please keep writing!!

  5. I agree with the others who’ve posted here. Your little story illustrates so vividly the many many little things that lots of us take for granted. It’s also one reason why I support the service dog community. It’s the people like you (and me) and dogs like Bright who make tough days just a little bit easier.

  6. I completely agree with the above comments too. It just shows how much you need your Bright for the little things (like getting the lunch, what an amazing dog!), but if you’re anything like me, having your companion just being there can be such a comfort. Thanks for sharing Alex! :)

  7. The other day I was sitting on the toilet and was my hand towel was JUST out of my reach. I can’t remember why I needed it, but I did, and I was starting to panic. Sure, I could have transferred to my chair, grabbed the towel, then transferred back to the toilet, but that’s easier said than done and I was feeling very weak and felt a fall was imminent if I tried that. Conner had only ever picked up objects off the floor, so I wasn’t sure how he’d fare getting something hanging on the wall, but I called him in, pointed at the towel, and told him “get it.” Sure enough, he did :) It was a very proud moment for the both of us and a reminder that, even though I don’t always need him to help me, he’s a life saver when I do.

  8. I wish we would have had a service dog for my late husband (passed in 2000). He was a
    quadrapalegic and I didn’t know about service animals for the handicapped, but we did have a handicap placard. And like the service dog, we got a lot of hassle about parking in handicap spots. Once a police officer gave me a ticket saying “A placard is not legal.” My current husband had a stroke 5 years ago and I recently found out about service animals. My husband is falling more often, in Aug he fell and our two Shih Tzu’s barked until they got my attention (normally do not bark). The EMT’s suggested getting them registered, But like you said, I feel guilty because he doesn’t go anywhere without me, but he is alone when I am at work. How do I go about training them to retrieve his cell phone or other items when I am not there?

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