Sorry about the disappearing act there, folks. Those migraines really knocked me flat. I’ve gotten things back in hand, just in time for the semester to start (whoo boy). Right, now, on to the real entry.
I wrote a while ago about how my service dog having a bad day could mean a bad day for me. It’s a two-way street. Me having a bad day often means a bad day for him.
The worst are probably migraine days. I end up stuck in bed, with the fan on to provide white noise to cover the screaming neighbors and the general noise of living in the city. Oh how I miss the suburban house of my childhood when I have migraines! When you do not share walls with anyone, it is much easier to get true quiet, which is one of the things a migraine makes you covet intensely.
If I’m stuck in bed, Hudson’s stuck in the bedroom. On my side of the bedroom. Which means he’s got at most a 30 square feet to move around in – a 3′ wide corridor that starts with his dog bed and runs between the dresser and the bed to the door. In all honesty, it’s probably smaller than that. He’s not supposed to wander around in the rest of the bedroom, not that it’s real easy to get around in.
Because we live in an old house, the bedrooms aren’t very big. We have a queen sized bed, mostly because I sleep with a body pillow and am very demanding of my space. The boyfriend is a very average sized guy, not the kind of rail-thin waif that could squeeze in to less the 1/3 of a full sized bed that I’d leave free for him.
So there’s poor Hudson, stuck in that little tiny space. I can’t give him a toy full of treats like I do when I’m busy downstairs working, because his method of getting the treats out of the toy involves throwing the toy at the ground repeatedly, a rather noisy operation. Exactly the kind of thing that would make me start crying during a migraine.
I also can’t get up every hour or so to work on something with him, the way I do when I’m doing schoolwork. It’s part of what keeps his brain busy – we practice service tasks. We do his daily training routine. Once again, the kind of thing I can’t do when I have a migraine. I’m usually dizzy, nauseated, and in a great deal of pain. Standing up, bending over, and the other sorts of thigns I have to do to work on his training just ain’t happening. Frankly, when I’ve got a migraine, the best thing to do is sleep through it.
So that’s what we do. We sleep. At least, I assume he does, out of boredom. The boyfriend has to take the dog out to do his business, and bring his food up for me to give the dog.
When it’s a subluxed hip, or my back all a mess, the situation is much the same, though then I do sometimes remember to give Hudson toys to play with. He tends to get bored with them rather quickly, though, and so there we lay – me reading, him sleeping.
I’ll admit, I feel quite a bit of guilt for all the things he doesn’t get to do on days when I’m laid up. I mean, a dog is not meant to live in the narrow space between dresser and bed. He’s meant to go run, to play, to just be a dog. He’s meant to spend time with me, learning and goofing off. And when I’m having one of these kinds of bad days, he doesn’t get any of that.
These are not, however, the bad days I feel the worst about. Oh no. That distinction goes to the days where I am in a great deal of pain but must go do something anyhow – whether it’s going to school or a doctor’s appointment.
Then, I’m short tempered. Short on praise. Quick to correct, and harsh with my corrections when I don’t get obedience quickly. Unable to be patient when he’s getting scared by traffic or the trolley we have to ride on, because he’s hurting me.
I imagine those are the worst days for him. Getting snapped at, rarely being told he’s doing things right, me forgetting commands and needing him to do things anyhow…
These are the days you don’t imagine would happen when you set out to get a service dog. The days where your health condition punishes your dog, for no reason other than that you have to rely on him and can’t deal with imperfect work. It’s unfair, it’s harsh, and all I can do is humbly apologize to him and promise I will try harder not to do that next time. The boyfriend may understand why he gets his head bitten off when I feel like this, but Hudson does not.
I cannot express how thankful I am that dogs are such forgiving creatures, for Hudson does not hold these days against me. I think he remembers better the days when I take him to the park and throw his toy for him again and again than he does the days when I’m not fit to work with anyone, least of all him. Or at least, I hope he does.