Going to the dogs – literally

When I got home from the hospital after suffering the stroke, I got a good tongue lashing.

Let me introduce you to four main characters from my life. They are challenging, entertaining and demanding. They are three rescued Border Collies and a lapdog. They were all tongues flapping in the wind – so happy to see me they couldn’t restrain themselves. Their bodies were snake-like, writhing in the quest to reach me. I had never been away from them overnight before.


Jake: a Cavalier King Charles. He’s been around since my youngest daughter was two – that’s 12 years, a long time for a lapdog. And he
probably was destined to lead a lapdog life – bad legs, bad heart, bad lungs. But he’s been with us so long because we decided three years ago to rescue Border Collies. Now he thinks he is one. He has a “bad” sheep stare and herds the other dogs as well as keeps up with us, unflagging, on our 2 mile walks every day.


Elsa is the momma bitch, although she never will have puppies, she is boss of the pack. She was a nervous, elfish creature that we
couldn’t help but love. She was from Ireland where they did unspeakable things to her during her nine months of life when we got her. She didn’t do puppy things like chew toys or bones and we had to pick up to get her in the car.


Several months after Elsa, we adopted an 8 week old puppy from a rescue centre. Bess integrated well because she had no past baggage and
gave Elsa “mum” duties as a purpose in life. To this day she still acts like a mum. Bess’ goal in life is to fetch tennis balls, all of them.


Life was sweet, and then came Bailey. He was returned to a rescue centre as being too aggressive and Amoret brought him home (she did
ask!). Bailey has the most agreeable personality and when we got him at about five months old his “aggressiveness” was chewing on things, as puppies do. He would do anything possible to please you. I describe him as just like Doug in the movie ”Up.”

But I digress. This pack, my pack, is a part of my recovery.
It wasn’t recommended by my stroke support team (SST it’s probably known by – I remember when it stood for supersonic transport like the Concord. I’ve found the paperwork – they were called the START Team, followed by the Intermediate Care Team).

I thought of recovery plan all by myself and I’ve had a stroke. Twice a day I’m out with the dogs, walking through woods and parks –
walking and thinking. That’s what I need.

My pack doesn’t care if I lean to the right.

My pack doesn’t care if I sound like I am strangling songbirds when I speak.

My pack doesn’t care that I can’t whistle.

My pack doesn’t care that the arm used to scratch them moves randomly and unevenly.

My pack doesn’t care that I sometimes drool – just like they do.

They love me just the way I am, and that’s just what I need.


2 responses to “Going to the dogs – literally

  1. That is genuinely heartwarming Lou, there’s something special about the unconditional love that animals show their owners. I’m sad that I can’t pick my cats up or pursue them around the house or that they don’t come to me, but every so often they will be so extraordinarily affectionate that they’re worth their weight in gold! All stroke survivors should have pets. Actually, in hospital – there was a volunteer who brought around a dog. It was one of the highlights of my week.

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