A Face on Her

When I first got ill I had a lot of residual fitness. This did not really seem like a big deal to me, because, like my health, I took it for granted. Okay, so I had a whole lot of pain, but I could get about, and actually after I stopped being able to work the scoliosis in my spine eventually eased off, and I could even walk to a shop and maybe carry something home sometimes without really incurring any extra pain or damage.

Fast forward almost a decade and a half and you might be ahead of me – that residual strength and physical fortitude?

Down the damn pan.

This might have been less of a big deal except for a few factors. One thing is that I don’t love not being able to do things, and the other thing is that I put in place a pacing machine. And that pacing machine was a sentient being.

I did a couple of pain management courses, one hospital based some time previously, and one early on in my ‘full catastrophe’ that was an early version of the now widespread mindfulness courses, except that this one was designed for people living in pain, and is still the gold standard for that version of the offerings. Both courses involved learning pacing, which is to say that if you are active you should take breaks and if you are resting you should move around periodically. How periodically was to be calculated and realistic, and take into consideration flare ups and setbacks in whatever condition/s the person was living with.

I’d been spending a lot of time in bed. Like, not leaving the house at all and staying in bed for days except for using the bathroom and kitchen. I was in a lot of pain, disorientated, and anxious. My solution was to get a dog.

Poppet the Pacing Machine, in her youth.

This was a great move. Poppet is a Staffy (Staffordshire Bull Terrier) and they like going out, they are sociable beasts, and when they are at home they like to loaf around, so when I needed to rest I could rest.

Thing is though, I’ve had her six years and I am no longer benefitting from the walking, dancing, tai chi, weights and yoga that I did *before* I got ill.

This is where Borrow My Doggy comes in. Last year, on the advice of a friend over on Facebook, I joined up. Most of the borrowers take her out walking, and it means that on a lean day with me I don’t have to feel too guilty, because she is going to have a lot of exercise and stimulation on another day. Recently she got some new friends who are lawyers and they have a price comparison site for legal cases. They run this out of their home which is near here so now POPPET GOES TO WORK!

My God. She LOVES it. We’ve only done it a couple of times, but she takes a seat under the bosses desk and then takes herself round to harvest ambient loving periodically. I dropped her off today because I have a health visitor coming who is not keen on dogs. It’s better for me to have someone come here because if I have to go to them I have to manage the dog and travel and have the appointment, and as well as being a hazard on the road, that is way too many spoons. I will also have to factor in crashing for the next couple of days, and I just don’t have the support to do that right now.

I was walking home after dropping her off this morning and I saw a woman with a puppy who was refusing to move. This is hilarious when it’s not your dog. I said hello to the puppy and told the owner that my dog did that as well, but that now she is old so she can really resist effectively. I used the phrase ‘a face on her’ which then had me kind of grinning to myself. I am not sure how widely recognised this phraseology is. I’d call it Scouse, but I think maybe Londoners use it too. I don’t have a picture of *just* how effective the face is right now, since a lot of my photos of her are soppy smiler portraits, but you can see from the one above how stern she can look. Imagine that with the gravitas of a grey muzzle and eyes. Now imagine her sitting like a rock with me saying;

“Come ON Poppet! DON’T BE BOSSY.”

Which is shaming.


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