Music's Like a Snuggie for Your Soul


Friday, June 8, 2012

Miss Olive B. Jackson

Olive Dog
It was almost a fluff post day. I'm trying to pack everything i own so i can schlep it to my next humble abode, while keeping the current house clean enough to be shown, plus i have to figure out which things i'll need for the summer and everything that needs to get done before i leave. Then, i found out my step-mom's dog died, so rather than fluffy, we're goin with furry today.

Hobie was a great dog. I don't have any pictures of him, but i'm sure my mom has elevendy million. It's always so devastating, the loss of a dog. They are true companions. Some people don't understand how we can mourn their deaths like that of a human, but scientists have found we develop intense oxytocin bonds with these creatures; the same chemical connection shared by moms and their babies. Learning this, i guess it makes a lot of sense, really.

I try not to think of losing my dog. I've had her about a year and a half now and i can't imagine living again without her. The notion makes me queasy. It's a major gripe i have with that real or theoretical intelligent designer- the huge discrepancy between dog and human life spans. It's cruel and unusual. She's already six (at least) and she's the best dog i will ever have, without a doubt.

I never thought i would have a service dog. I'd entertained the idea, i'd grown up with dogs and all, but i wasn't about to broadcast the fact that i had some kind of disability. Ack. Pretty much unless you were a lifeguard, my physician, or standing over the top of me wondering, What the Fuck?! I wasn't about to admit to anything.

But a bushel of serendipity tumbled out of the life tree, and we learned of a dog that a lady could no longer keep. We also learned of a training agency who does some work with seizure detection canines and they agreed to help us out.

It turned out the dog was already pretty remarkable behaviorally, in terms of public access, so we just needed them to help us train her in the whole seizure alert deal. Except, come to find, on account they don't really know yet what it is the dogs pick up on, they can't actually train them how to do it. So they just place them with people in faith that they'll figure it out.

So she went everywhere with us, and we hoped for the best. I was definitely skeptical. It was my impression it was some kind of Discovery Channel phenomenon, but she was pretty cute so what the heck.

It took about two months despite the fact that we'd even discouraged it initially. The warning she's able to offer was way further in advance than we ever imagined. So far, that it took us an embarrassing number of times to even associate the behavior with the seizure. We'd scolded her fearing we couldn't have an anxious, vocal dog out in public. Finally, we realized, duh. She's been doing it all along!

And has been, basically without fail now, ever since. One time she was in the stands and picked up on it while i was out playing ice hockey, so we were separated by some distance and a thick sheet of plexiglass. (Pretty impressive if it's an olfactory cue, that she could detect it over the pungent eau de hockey.)

Anyhow, she's saved me a gazillion in E.R. bills, and who knows how much bodily damage. She's a piece of mind, really. I can function socially with way less anxiety just having her with me, knowing i'll have enough time to find somewhere that's not amok with cars or people and save myself all sorts of dangerous and awkward. I can take her to the swimming pool and that alone is gold.

She's really the only reason i could even consider the river guiding gig. There's no biscuit-sniffing way in Hades i'd ever dream of rowing guests in my boat without Olive. I'm still floored about it. I'm no longer the most frequent flyer in our local E.R.. How freakin cool is that?! And she's adorable to boot. Who would've thought i could love a goofy, slobbery, furball, doo-doo factory so dang much?


  1. Oh, how I'd love a seizure dog for my Sophie. Seven years ago, we went through a process where I trained a dog to be her service dog, but it turned out to be too overwhelming for me to handle with three little kids, so the dog, our Valentine, became just a slightly kooky family dog. She sits quietly while Sophie seizes, but she has never really bonded with her in particular. Maybe I'll rethink it, though.

    Great post! And I actually loved the music playing.

    1. It's made such a huge impact in my life. If it's within my capacity to train dogs for other people someday, i have no choice but to dedicate myself to the task. I want for Sophie to have a seizure dog too.

    2. I'm glad you liked the music, i have a handful of songs on random. Was it the duet with Laura Marling do you remember? I thought you might like that one. I might give the autoplay the axe so as not to subject anyone to music against their own volition, but hopefully the player is noticeable enough they can stop it if they want.

  2. Dogs, dogs, dear god thank god for dogs.

    Your love for your own Olive has made me miss my Tip and Bailey so much I can feel it in my stomach. They saved me and loved me when no one else did. I miss them more than words can say. I still sometimes dream of them and the oldest, Bailey, has been gone for 9 years, Tip for 12. There is NOTHING like the love of a dog.

    Glad you have her. I'm thinking of your mom at this time of loss for her and the hole that must be at the center of her heart right now. My own heart goes out to her.

    1. Dogs, dogs, dear god thank god for dogs. YES! Sorry to hear about Tip and Bailey. It's a loss that you just can't ever prepare for or become immune to. They are such amazing friends.

  3. Ah. This is just so awesome. I'm so glad you have your sweet dog to keep you safe.

    1. Thanks Ms. Moon! I still can't believe it myself. I couldn't possibly be more grateful for a four-legged, waggedy fur bundle. I totally scored.


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