So many times this old blog of mine seems like one great family! Which is why I am sharing an exchange between Lisa and me.
For last Friday in came the following email from Lisa (republished with Lisa’s permission.):
I still receive your blog every day and love it! I contributed a couple of blogs to you about our Sabrina which you published on Learning from Dogs.
I have a question for you and perhaps your community.
Sabrina is experiencing some anxiety at breakfast time. She begins whimpering and crawling on the floor. It happens a few times a week. She usually doesn’t eat her breakfast right away after these episodes. Her behavior is normal the rest of the day.
I’ve told our vet about it and she thinks it’s some kind of anxiety and is willing to prescribe medication. I’d rather not medicate her all the time as this episode happens infrequently.
We may have some blood test taken as our next approach.
Have you ever experienced this kind of thing with one of your dogs or heard of it happening with someone else’s dog?
Also, another question I’ve been meaning to ask you writer-to-writer. I recall you telling me you are from a small town near Cornwall or Devon? I’d love to find some type of writer’s residency in that area and wondering if you know any association or grant available? It’s difficult for me to learn of residency opportunities in the UK being in the USA. No big deal, just thought I’d ask you.
Hope all is well with you and glad to hear you and Jean are going vegan! I’m a former vegan/vegetarian. We are eating more vegetarian these days and I especially love to COOK vegan. I am going to look into the Halo Garden of Vegan dog food too. Great tip.
I discussed this with Jean and then sent the following reply to Lisa:
Jean is recommending changing Sabrina’s routine. Such as feeding her in a different place. Plus, trying a proprietary stress relief medicine. We used Bach Rescue Remedy, a homeopathic formula, for our dogs when we moved from Arizona to Oregon back in 2012.
Keep us in the loop with this!
Back came Lisa:
Thank you to you and Jean for your two emails. Dennis and I were just talking about Sabrina’s behavior and it occurred to me it could be separation anxiety. Dennis gets up at 4:30, feeds her, gets ready for work and is out of the house by 5:30. Sabrina favors him and I’m thinking as much as she loves to eat, it means he’s about to leave and be gone from her all day.
I will pick definitely pick up the Bach’s Rescue Remedy and have Dennis feed her in a different area of the house.
Oh, yes, and please, if interested make the subject of Sabrina’s behavior a post and yes, yes, yes on soliciting for a writer’s retreat in the UK for me 🙂
Thanks a million!
To which I then responded, thus:
I think you may have solved Sabrina’s behaviour issue. An easy thing to try out is to ask Dennis not to feed Sabrina at that time and you to feed her instead. Would take a few days for her to get accustomed to the change but within a week you would know if this was the fix!
And, thanks for the permission. It will be coming out next week.
So, good people, any other ideas to add to assist Lisa in settling down Sabrina in the morning? And what about that writer’s retreat in the UK?
Finally, I am going to be pretty distracted these next 48 hours so apologies if I am not very attentive to your responses. Plus there will be no post tomorrow.
Lisa Mae DeMasi offers you all a beautiful guest post.
Not going to allow my words to delay you reading this wonderful essay from Lisa.
How this Handler and Service Dog Nurture One Another
by Lisa Mae DeMasi
At two years old, Lady’s ribs protruded from her coat and her belly was swollen with milk.
Like the thirteen other Labs that had arrived at a rest stop in Union, CT on the straight 12½-hour drive from Muncie, IN, she was presented to us on a crisp autumn day amid the chaos of respective adopters.
My husband Dennis had never experienced the warmth and companionship of having a dog and well, I surprised him with Lady, who we quickly renamed to Sabrina. The very afternoon we picked her up, we raced to the park, wanting her to feel the joy of freedom and play. My husband’s face lit up and while I was thrilled at the opportunity to befriend and care for Sabrina; it meant closing the 20-year gap since our beloved German Shepard from my childhood passed away.
Until laying my eyes on Sabrina’s profile, my heart couldn’t entertain loving another dog.
And what canine isn’t after the same love?
In Sabrina’s case, she couldn’t know of the family members that awaited to embrace her presence. Within days of the initial hair-raising excitement, the cat sought out occasions to groom her ears. Our pet rat was free to waddle the kitchen floor un-bothered, and the pair of bonded bunnies in want of company stretched out beside her on the living room floor.
Dog, cat, rat, rabbit?
And Dennis and me?
Like kids again.
Sabrina settled into the folds of our lives, well-nourished and exercised in Boston’s epic snowfall in the winter of 2009-2010, taking careful watch over all of us. The fear expressed in her eyes pre-adoption disappeared.
Eight years later, she watches over me in particular. Thirty years ago, I was struck and thrown from the passenger side of a car until my abdomen collided with the steering wheel—blunt force that called for iterative repair to my digestive system and caused permanent damage to the nerves that signal my bladder is full.
Today when I’m busy working away, Sabrina will alert me to get up every couple of hours to make a trip to the restroom by gently placing her head in my lap.
When I suffer acute intestinal cramping, Crohns-like symptoms, she’ll sit at my side and lean her body against mine. Her calm and steady source of nurturing, helps me to relax and mitigates the cramps.
In 2008, the Department of Justice amended the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This was amended to include digestive, bowel and bladder impairments that limit major life activities as the disabled, calling for employers to make reasonable accommodations and if the individual elects, to allow task-oriented service animals [dog or miniature horse] to accompany them on the job.
Sabrina, serving in the capacity of a sensory/medical assist – alerting me to get up and take care of myself – qualifies.
The HR Director, Debra Susler of Reputation Institute in Cambridge, MA this past April would not allow Sabrina to accompany me on-the-job. I sent her an elaborate email explaining my condition and Sabrina’s certification. She did not reply to me but to my supervisor.
She said “no”.
I walked out of the place
Sabrina: rescue dog to devoted helper dog.
Respectively, Sabrina’s competencies and understanding of language cease to astound us and her behavior on-the-job at Dell EMC is so well-mannered, coworkers never run out of compliments.
And bystanders in public? The grocery store, pharmacy, gym, dentist, doctor?
Gazes from cell phones are broken, conversations fall short.
Then, come the smiles. A question. Praises. The feel-good moment.
Sabrina brings people together.
I recently read a distressing post from a woman who said every time she looks into a service dog’s eyes, she sees sadness. Even Ingrid Newkirk, CEO and Co-Founder of PETA, has told me, “the life of a typical service dog is a terrible one.”
It’s true. Any canine enslaved to servitude is doomed a dog’s life unlived.
Service animals are working animals, not pets.
The ADA confirms it.
But that’s not the relationship Sabrina and I share [and I understand it can’t be the same with other handlers and service dogs]. In addition to being my devoted helper, Sabrina teaches me to exist in the moment — just like she does. To enjoy the sight of the sun shimmering through the trees, the call of the birds, the fragrance of wildflowers, the feel of the soft soil I tread a few yards behind her when we’re on our hikes.
What more could a dog do for a girl?
There is something rather special about Lisa’s guest post; special in an introspective way!
Lisa’s creative work has recently placed second in Fiftiness’s 2017 Writing Contest (Why I Love Bike Commuting in Boston) and been featured in the anthologies, Unmasked, Women Write About Sex & Intimacy After Fifty (9/17, print) and The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal (11/17, print). Her essays have been published in the lit journals and several other media outlets. She considers Massachusetts her home, but has lived in Connecticut, Vermont, New York State and two other planets called Wyoming and Arizona. She earned a B.A. from Regis College and an MBA from Babson College, and holds a Master certificate in Reiki.
Lisa is seeking a development editor [that gets her] to work on her collection of essays and her memoir.