Friday, April 27, 2007

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Team training is about to begin for the dogs soon to graduate and their new people. To make more room for the trainers, wheelchairs, and dogs at the Training Center, we were allowed to take the T.C. wheelchairs home for practice with our Almost Big Dogs. I think the idea was to kick the tires and take them for a spin, so to speak.

At left is a shot of Belle and I in action (and one hopeful puppy).

Lesson 1: Seemingly flat sidewalks can make your hamstrings feel, well, strung out, after only half a block. Who knew I lived on a hill?

Lesson 2: A 1" rise between sidewalk blocks is almost insurmountable (it is if you can't stand up and lift the chair over it like I did).

Lesson 3: Sticks and seeds and other debris littering the sidewalks are a real pain.

Lesson 4: Vinyl wheelchair seats are as uncomfortably hot and sweaty as vinyl car seats. When is Herman Miller, that Cadillac of office chairs, going to get into the wheel chair business?

Lesson 5: M & M skills - so named for the pattern Belle follows when going from heel to front to side to back, repeat - were completely forgotten when Belle was attached directly to the chair. We've only practiced them in the chair while I was holding her leash. Looks like I know what we'll work on a lot this week.

Lesson 6: Leave the puppy home next time. (That dangling cord attached to Cody's favorite furry friend, Belle, is just too much for a puppy to resist). He was a great passenger, though. He was so confident from his perch on my lap he even let the big, brown, barky dog have it when we passed her house. Oh, Cody-beara, you're so fierce!

Finally, my neighbors are truly great. The two doing yard work that Belle and I passed both stopped what they were doing to give us a thumbs up. That really helped alleviate the odd feeling I had tooling up and down the sidewalk in a wheelchair.

2 comments:

slatta said...

As a runner and walker, I am always appreciative of people who are good about clearing their sidewalks of snow in the winter. I often think about how frustrating it must be for people who use wheelchairs to negotiate unshoveled sidewalks--if they can at all.

Speak(er) said...

I know just what you mean. The real heroes for me were the folks that lived on the corner lots but still took the time and effort to clear the windrows left by the plow at the intersection of their sidewalks. It made the winter runs much less exciting when you didn't have to play mountain goat at each intersection.

Here in Saint Paul we give out "Alley Awards" for people who beautify their alleys by planting gardens. I always thought we should have "Silver Shovel" awards to those who do a great job keeping the walks clear for all no matter how many inches fall or how often.