I mentioned in my post about my new found furry friend that I view his entrance into my life as a blessing for a number of reasons. The first of these is the companionable bond that we have already begun to develop, even in the single, short visit I've had with him. So far, so typical, since who doesn't know the ancient adage 'a dog is a [wo]man's best friend'? The second, too, is rather obvious - I hope we can provide each other with mutual comfort, and offer consolation when times are rough as well as good. The third, however, may not be so easily discernible, although I did touch on it briefly; it is that I see my dear Darcy as an incentive which will compel me towards further physical improvement, post-graduation, because he deserves to have the best kind of walks.
It is perfectly possible, of course, to walk a dog when one uses a wheelchair - many of my friends do so, whether or not they have trained their pet to be an assistant - and that will be my method at the beginning. After all, I can't give other people piggybacks, but I've found an alternative which is almost as good, I think. Friends (and frequently PAs) stand on the back of my chair, and we zoom along, sometimes pausing to re-enact a certain scene from Titanic. In this way, the trust we share becomes reciprocal - because just as I would hope that I'm safe enough, for instance, not to be dropped when they help me out of my chair, so too must they hope that I won't tip them off the curb when we're going round a corner. It's brilliant fun - mostly because it makes people stare for entirely different reasons that they usually do!
Nevertheless, in the same way that my friends and helpers would love the novelty and thrill of 'chair surfing', as we call it, I would equally love to experience the simple joy of leaves and twigs crackling under feet as I amble along a woodland path - so, whilst Darcy seemed to enjoy burrowing into the gap between my seat and my armrest, and I would quite happily leave him there, I'm going to try and use him as an extension of my therapy programme, and take my excerise when he takes his. It'll take a while, and it'll be a boggy ramble, but I'm going to need something to keep me going past the big day - and the end of this blog!
I won't be fussy about where we cuddle, though, and I'm also hoping that he'll adapt to me as much as I'll adapt to him. True friends take each other as they are and, in being a true friend, he might just teach me to take myself as I am. Perhaps I'm not the only one who needs training, however grateful I am for the experiences my disability has given me, and despite my understanding that I wouldn't be the person that I am today without it. Maybe he can help me to further that understanding, as well as to reach future walking-related goals - and, in return, I can always teach him to do this: