I don’t write the words that comfort you. They’ve never been meant for that.

I don’t write the words that please you.

I write words of flame, turning to cinders your convictions.

I write words of pain, attempting to make you feel, something, anything.

I write crooked pages of rage, dark slashes marring the whiteness.

I write the broken manuscript of an uneasy spirit.

I write so you can hurt. Feel my hurt.

I write of how it scalds my skin. My bones. My soul.

I can’t write the words that reassure you.

I can’t write the words, for when I utter those falsehoods.

I burn.

It’s Awkward When You Thank Me

Figaro and I are pretty much working together full-time now. I’ve adjusted pretty well to the comments we get but one in particular has been nagging at me. It’s one of those things that most people mean well when they say it, but it’s still a product of ableism. I’m never quite sure how to respond, I mean I have enough trouble dealing with social interaction as it is. I guess I’ll have to figure something out. I’m just not quite sure what that something is yet.

I get thanked all the time. Thanked for training a dog for those poor cripples, those unfortunate souls. It tends to leave me a bit flabbergasted. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me given that I look abled, most of the time. Still, people often find the grossest way possible to thank me. It doesn’t help that they’re completely overlooking the fact that I am one of those poor souls they’re talking about. I suppose that’s the double edged sword of passing privilege.

I’m still unsure what to do but hopefully I’ll figure something out.

The 3rd Assistance Dog Blog Carnival

At long last, I welcome you to the third ADBC.

A big thank you to Sharon Wachsler. Without her, this carnival, let along this post, would not even exist. She not only did a great deal of work contacting bloggers, but also helped me get my plans in order.

There were many amazing entries from a number of bloggers. I found many brought me a fresh perspective on topics I had only previously granted passing thoughts. I am honored to host this carnival for this great group of people and I hope you will all enjoy the posts as much as I did.

I’ve separated the posts into a  few different categories. These are very loosely defined, but hopefully will be helpful.

The reactions of assistance dogs, retired dogs, puppies and non working dogs:

  • Cyndy Otty at Gentle Wit has a post about guide dogs dealing with retirement. She talks about the two guides she’s handled that are now retired, and covers the different responses they’ve had to retirement. Her post is titled Retiring Reactions.
  • Katrin, blogging at By My Side, brings us a story of James the assistance dog and his interesting experience in a zoo. Take a trip down to the post, Memory Lane.

The reactions of the general public, family and friends:

  • Kali at Brilliant Mind Broken Body has a moving post about how some folks feel entitled to the time, images and energy of assistance dogs and their handlers which looses sight of the entire reason these dogs are in public to begin with. The post, He’s not here for you is insightful and a must read.
  • L^2, writer of Dog’s Eye View, brings us Teach Them Well. I always enjoy L^2′s posts and this was no exception. The pitch prefect capture of certain obvious statements you end up hearing while out and about was a treat to read.
  • Jen, writing at Paws for Thought has written about reaction to her guide dog. Reactions to OJ was an enjoyable read and I enjoyed the contrast between the reactions of children and those of adults.
  • Kelley  who you can find at Life with Fur, brings us Dogs and family. The post is about foster puppies and I found it to be a fresh point of view.
  • Sam at Rasing Romero has posted Reactions To Romero. It’s about reactions to the puppy being raised and includes a favorite moment.
  • Andrea of  The Manor of Mixed Blessings wrote a post I wish was beamed into the heads of a grand number of ” dog people.” That informative post is Service Dog Etiquette for Dog Lovers. Due to some comments, a follow up, On Dogs and Shoes was also posted.
  •  The Pawpower Pack, writing at The Dog House, has a very unique post about along circulating myth regarding Dobermans. It is Reactions to Laveau’s Brain.

The reactions of handlers, trainers and puppy raisers:

  • Ashley at The CRPS Girl has just recently begun her partnership with her assistance dog. She writes about both of their first reactions to each other and her feelings before the match. The First Reaction: Assistance Dog Blog Carnival brought a smile to my face.
  • Patti Brehler, who writes at Plays with Puppies,  posts about meeting the new handler of the puppy she raised. I really liked the unconventional formatting of her post, REACTIONS: Meeting LD Mike’s New Handler.
  • Brooke of Ruled By Paws has a post up, Perfect For Me. It covers the choice of a school and dealing with the results of that decision.

Once again, a big thank you to everyone for submitting posts and I am very sorry about the delay on this post. Your posts lead me on a journey though so many emotions and I am grateful for all of them. We have great bunch of topics to read through and I know people will enjoy these writings.

If there is anything I’ve misinterpreted, misattributed or otherwise messed up, please don’t be afraid to comment. It’s been a wild week and I’m still not at my best.

Announcing the 3rd Assistance Dog Blog Carnival

I’ll be hosting the 3rd round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival. I’m very excited to have chance to host this blog carnival and connect with some great writing, along with more of the online community. If you’re not sure what blog carnival is exactly, Sharon at After Gadget, the founder of this carnival has compiled a very useful post about the blog carnival.

This round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival is about Reactions. Many service dog partner know all about the reactions of the public, but this topic can be about much more than that. What about the reactions of friends and family members to the idea of you starting  partnership? If you’re a puppy raising, what was your reaction to actually having a puppy in the house and then needing to let them go? What about the first time you saw an assistance dog, or when you first had an access challenge? If you train, what about your first training hurdle, where it just seemed like you dog wasn’t getting it?

These aren’t the only topics you can write on, just a few ideas. Feel free to go with whatever feels right to you. Remember, you don’t need to have an assistance dog to participate, your post just needs to be related to them.

The deadline for link submissions is April 25th. Please feel free to contact me if you need a bit more time. To submit your links, please comment on this post with 3 things. I’ll need the name of your blog, the title of your post and the url or a link to your post. Don’t just link your blog in general, I’d prefer not to go post hunting.

Please keep in mind the accessibility of your blog. One quick way to check for problems is with WAVE – Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool. It’s not prefect, but it can point out major issues. Sharon also put together an Accessibility Cheat Sheet. CAPTCHA for comments makes it impossible for many people to comment, even with the audio option, so it would be good to turn it off. You can always use comment moderation which I find works well.

I look forward to seeing all your posts in April!

Opps, you got your classism all over my pet ownership

I don’t talk about classism a lot, but I should. I grew up working class poor, technically under the poverty line, but thanks to my parents, I have never gone hungry. I have always had a place to live, because my parents bought our current house from my mother’s parents. I am exceeding lucky, even without the benefits of being middle class or above. I grew up and currently live in a dying mill town and I know that people aren’t poor because they just don’t try hard enough.

I also know that poor people love their companion animals just as much as anyone else. Rehoming a pet “just” for moving often isn’t a sign of someone who just doesn’t care, it’s a sign of being unable to find affordable housing that even allows pets. Even them, when you’re living, month to month, week to week, day to day, where does one get the money for a pet deposit? It’s all well and good to get a deposit waived because of a CGC award or the pet being an emotional support animal, but how many people even aware of the CGC? Even if someone knows about it and can find the time, money and transportation to have their dog tested, there are plenty of dogs that make perfectly lovely pets that will never pass, even with the time investment of training. As for the ESA and service dog waivers, even if one has regular enough medical care to get one, plenty of landlords are fine with ignoring the Fair Housing Act. How much fun is it going to be to deal with landlord that’s pissed at you for calling the authorities on them? Yeah, some are reasonable after having things explained, but there is aways that risk. When you’re courting homelessness for not only your self, but maybe your kids too, it isn’t exactly a free choice. I’m not saying dropping pets off at shelters is a good thing, but painting these people as monsters does little to help shelter pets.

I know most people want what’s best for their pets, even if they aren’t aware of better. My parents fed Pedigree to our first dog because they were under the impression it was the best food out there. Plenty of people feeding Alpo and such don’t realize how substandard these foods are. I know I didn’t, not until I started researching dog care and training. Just as many, many people purchase pet store puppies thinking they are saving them, or that they come from local breeders, many people purchase substandard dog foods thinking they’re fine. Even so, someone may know the dog food isn’t that great, but as they’re eating substandard food themselves, they aren’t in much of a position to do anything about it. I am exceeding lucky to be receiving enough money that Figaro[1] eats a rotation of some of the best foods available. However, if my parents weren’t willing to be paid only 30% of my income for rent,[2]along with paying the internet and the majority of my meals, along with transportation, things wouldn’t be so nice. Things are less nice for whole lot of people. I simply can’t imagine dealing with having children, a job I needed to travel to, no health insurance and/or more out of pocket expenses. Actually, I can imagine and things would be much more dire.

I’ve often heard it said that if you can’t afford vet care, you shouldn’t have a dog. While I would say getting a dog isn’t ideal, plenty of pets are living with people who can’t even afford healthcare for themselves. Carecredit is a wonderful thing, if you have the credit to get it, but it doesn’t cure all problems. Some of the numbers I’ve seen thrown out for what people should have saved up are more than I receive in a year. Another factor is that for many kinds of assistance, you can’t a lot of money saved up. I’ve managed to build a little nest egg, but I understand why having money saved up is actually an issue for many people, not just matter of buying coffee too often or whatever examples get brought up in conversations. Just as will more expensive dog food, actually finding that sum of money, even if it is cheaper in the long run is still an issue. As Terry Pratchett wrote in Men at Arms:

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.”

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

Now, to be clear, animal abuse and neglect are never okay, but they aren’t exclusive to the poor. Drive around in any nice suburb and you’ll find dogs as glorified lawn ornaments, locked in Landry and basements rooms for 12 hours a day and left in backyards with a lack of human interaction, training or anything to do. I understand it’s easier to look at the poor and scoff, especially while being surrounded by the welfare hatred and classism that is rampant in the US[3] , but I truly don’t believe it’s helping. I think it’s completely possible to support and work on animal welfare without reinforcing the kyriarchy. Not only is it unnecessary, and if the oppression angle isn’t enough for one to care, it’s alienating. I’m not saying one needs to leave animal welfare behind, just put a bit more thought into the dialog and work surrounding our goals. That’s all.

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The Fading Ghost Girl

I’m not so hungry anymore. I think it’s the concerta, but I’ve always forgotten to eat, only now, it’s more pronounced. Now my absentminded fault shows. People smile at the weight loss, but I’m screaming inside. I did not want this, my frame shrinking, betraying me. My body is not, can not change on me, when I do not will it. Yet it continues.

At times, I wonder if I will fade to nothing. I used to dream of fading, a ghost of memory, whisper quiet and floating. Broken little ghost girl with no more toys, tears, fears, only existence. I drift, always have. I’ve never really felt grounded to this earth, living in a waking trance, numb. Sparks of feeling come and go, birds flitting through my empty space.

These hands, this body. IS it really mine? Does it matter. I’m not sure. It’s useful, lets me haunt hallways, read books, glide from idea to idea, manic, fragile. What shame it won’t sty the way I’m used to it, the hills and valleys of my flesh soothing, familiar. Smooth breasts, rough knees, but well-known, home.

As the gentle curve of my abdomen leaves me, I fret. Shrinking, shrinking like Alice, but I can’t find the other bottle, restore myself to continue chasing my white rabbit. Where is my Mad Tea Party? I wish to dine with my Hatter.

I wonder if I will become pretty. I will never be beautiful, but pretty I can manage. I don’t want it though. More, expectations, looks, feelings. I’m not prepared for pretty. It’s good, that I’m not there yet, body still too large to fit social conventions. At least that is as it should be.

I’ll head back, find my rabbit hole, my Hatter. I’ll take tea with my March Hare and marvel in this thinly tethered, thin, dreadfully thin, existence.