Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Keep calm


For a long long time Mr F and I have wanted a dog.

Now a dog has arrived!

We knew if we became dog owners again it would have to be a carefully planned operation. It wouldn't be as simple as just picking up a puppy from somewhere and taking it home. I worried a lot about having a dog and being disabled. Could I walk it, control it, amuse it, look after it when I wasn't feeling well? Would it knock me over, struggle to get out of the front door, woof a lot when I needed to rest? Was it feasible to be a dog owner when I couldn't walk far and had daily pain and fatigue?

We were determined to make it possible. For years and years we'd longed for another dog, having had a German Shepherd before I was disabled. During his lifetime my mobility impairment had a big impact on my interaction with him and he never, in his old age, got socialised to me using a wheelchair (as much from our inexperience with it, as anything).

To add to this confusing change of circumstances, I didn't know how to be a disabled person at first (who does?) and all that it entails - sussing out living accomodation if it needs to change, getting the right access equipment, the job, the pain, fatigue, endurance and energy levels - just having a life again has taken me years to acomplish. With the move to the bungalow, and some stability in work, life has become easier. My head is in as much of the right place as it'll ever be. I'm pretty much resigned to knowing I'll never get everything right, 100% of the time. Still waiting for a better chair, but now as a powertrike owner I can go outside.

Now seemed to be as good a time as any to start thinking about having a dog again. So we started looking. I found a good training school. And a good vets. And some good accessible pet suppliers. But a dog? Nothing. No breeders I found locally had any puppies. Now we'd decided for sure, the newpapers had no GSD's for sale. I wanted to make sure we got the right dog, with a good temperament for training, as I'd found an organisation called Dog Aid who I hoped would help me train the dog above and beyond what a general class could do. Dog aid were great, very friendly and helpful. They sent me an application pack. But nobody knew where I could get a dog.

Then the universe provided. How we got him and why he's the right dog is another story for another day, as I'm overtired and having trouble thinking and writing clearly. In the build up to him coming to live with us, we were like two little kids, getting all excited and then telling each other to 'keep calm, keep calm' in high, breathless voices! In this blog I try to keep a focus on the side of my life that is affected by disability, so I really want to write about the things encountered as a woman becoming out as a dog owner again after becoming disabled. I can't promise there'll be no mushy stuff, but I'll try and make it incidental to the main points!

But now I have to go, because I've told him I need regular breaks today to pace myself through the fatigue - and am being prompted to stop by the sound of a ball being dropped repeatedly near the safety gate.

We've got a dog! Yay! (Keep calm).


Charlesdawson said...

Congratulations, Fang and Mr Fang. I am sure Smudge will soon have you trained (your last sentence but one suggests he's already started the process!)

Agent Fang said...

Aha, yes, he's trying! But we're trying harder - for this to work we need a calm, well behaved dog. I can't wait for the day he and I go out together in the country, me on the trike, him trotting along off the lead beside me...

Charlesdawson said...

....until he sees a rabbit.

Katja said...


If you haven't already found it, check out Teamwork and Teamwork II for extremely realistic advice on training a dog when the trainer has a mobility disability.

Lady Bracknell said...

Yay, indeed :-)

Lady Bracknell extends her sincere good wishes for a long and rewarding partnership.

(Like most aristocrats, her ladyship is much fonder of animals than of children.)

Agent Fang said...

Charles: You'll never believe this but... the lady we got him from siad he didn't run after rabbits. We were like "Yeah, right..." but there's lots of rabbits about and he's seen 'em, and hasn't given chase. Don't know if it'll last, mind you.

Katja: No, I hadn't seen those books - I think I'll give them a try, many thanks! :0)

Lady B: Your good wishes are most welcome. I'm with you all the way on the child thing. Mind you, I don't mind limited exposure to select children, like the ones we met on last nights walk - fascinated and wanting to know all about him. They gave me a good recipe for dog birthday cake too - a layer of dog food, a layer of mash, and a layer of dog biscuits spelling 'Happy Birthday' punctuated with cheese. All in the best possible taste, of course!

marmiteboy said...

Most excellent AF, He looks a doozy. I'm a cat man meself but pets are a great comfort and provide hours of entertainment.

Hope he has settled in nicely.

Agent Fang said...

Cheers Marmite! He's a doozy indeed!
I'm sure if you met him you'd cross over from the un-dog side... ;)