28 April 2016

Several friends and even doctors have been saying that Richard should have a companion dog. My response has always been the same: hell no. I hate dogs. OK, hate is a strong word. How about despise? Let’s just say I don’t like dogs. In general, Richard doesn’t either. He was a real estate appraiser before he sold his business and had many run-ins with dogs. Once Rottweilers that were supposed to be chained up ran after him, and he had to jump a high fence to escape. One bit at his leg and ripped his jeans. In short, dogs are not for us.

But they have worked on me—our sinister, dog-loving friends. They brought over their pets for visits. Suddenly, we were having homeless dogs coming over for dog dates with their foster humans. Then one day, a diligent woman from the Arizona Poodle Rescue brought a dog from Phoenix. She had brought over other dogs for dog dates before and was very tuned in to Richard’s special needs. Much to my chagrin, we had become her project.

The dog she brought this time seemed nice enough—abandoned, in need of a new home, and with a horrible traditional poodle cut. He is male, thought to be about eight years old. I was under the impression it was to be a short visit, but the poodle lady said the dog should stay with us overnight because if we didn’t like him, he’d have to go back to Phoenix the next day. Damn. I have been duped. Tricked by a dog lover. She brought dog treats and food and a collar and leash. A f’ing starter kit.

But this dog knew immediately why he was here. He doesn’t seem to know anything about being a dog, but he does know he is here for Richard.

I had only told Richard that a dog was coming for a visit, not that it would be staying. He didn’t like surprises. I would usually prepare him for days before something big happened. And this definitely counted as something big. So I asked Richard if the dog could stay. I called him the visitor. “Would it be OK if the visitor stays overnight? He doesn’t really have anywhere else to go.” Richard said OK.

Kathy, our weekend caregiver, calls him the roly-poly visitor, because the dog is quite plump. He had been overfed by his foster family. Richard seems to like him well enough. As Richard was getting ready for bed, I asked him if we should give our roly-poly visitor a name. Richard immediately said, in an unusually strong voice, “Tacoma.” And Tacoma it is. Richard had lived in Tacoma, Washington, for many years, and we all think it is a fine name.

Tacoma is a major pain in the ass. He doesn’t know that he is supposed to pee and poop outside. No idea that this is important. Because he had been abandoned, we don’t know his background, but we were told he was abandoned twice in life, when he was young and again just recently. The poodle rescue people knew that based on his chip. Tacoma is terrified of being abandoned again. He won’t even walk away from the house unless Richard is with us. I have to pick him up and carry him. Very frustrating. I’ve hired a trainer, and Al is teaching me and Tacoma a lot. The dog is for Richard, but I have to do all the work. I don’t hate Tacoma, but I don’t really like him either. But he is here for Richard, and their relationship is growing. Tacoma wants to be everywhere that Richard is—in the bathroom, by the table, watching TV. He often sits on Richard’s lap. This is an awesome trick to get Richard to sit still for longer. They are good buddies. Tacoma charms everyone. He is quite cute, especially after a morning at the spa. “The perfect accessory,” my neighbor Linda says.


When Richard gets sick, Tacoma gets sick too, as if he is trying to take the burden away. It is super annoy- ing, but his intentions are good. It didn’t take long to figure out that Tacoma is an angel disguised as a dog. He is pretty bad at being a dog, but excellent at being an angel.



This is a chapter from my book Parkinson’s: A Love Story with Dementia for Dessert.  You may find it on Amazon.  https://www.amazon.com/Parkinsons-Love-Story-Dementia-Dessert-ebook/dp/B07K4RLC2D/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542135434&sr=8-1&keywords=Parkinson%27s+A+Love+Story+with+Dementia+for+Dessert&dpID=41xS3edPH0L&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch  Your feedback and reviews are most welcome.

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