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I stood up from the table with my empty bowl*, and before I'd even reached the kitchen, before I had made any discernable noise, I heard the soft thundering that indicated the dog was running down the stairs.

He scampers over if he's in the room and sees me standing up after a meal, having been taught to expect scraps then (though these are more common from Andrew than me, since he eats meat and somehow more things that can be scraped off the plate onto a little dog's food), but I'd never known him to run downstairs for them. This might partly be explained by the fact that he's not usually upstairs when we're both home, to be fair, though it was about the time he's been heading for bed lately.

But even so, how could he possibly know I was heading for the kitchen with an empty bowl?! I'd only taken a couple of quiet steps.

Then we're also talking, here, about a dog who has been known to hear the noise of me setting a block of cheese on the kitchen counter and come running down the stairs from where he'd been asleep. Cheese is his favorite, and somehow he can tell from another floor of the house, while asleep, that it's that thing and no other I've just gotten out of the fridge.

* Previously full of noodles and carrots and "chicken" and a miso ginger sauce I made from a recipe and found rather disappointing: even with lots more ginger than it called for it wasn't enough ginger, and too much miso for my tastes, but it was edible and I'll try it again with some tweaks.
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You know it's been a low-spoon week fortnight in this household when it gets to be about eight o'clock in the evening and the dog runs upstairs thinking it must be time to cuddle up to at least one of his humans in bed (usually me, but yesterday it was Andrew napping at six).

I started getting ready for bed about nine-thirty, partly because I felt sorry for his confusion and restlessness. He's curled up on my feet now, seeming very content.

I accidentally elbowed him (not too hard!) in the head as I was settling into bed. But since as I did he recognized I was getting into position for him to settle on, he bounded over to his usual spot and in his cheerfulness about this didn't seem to hold my mistake against me. He's such a good example for how great and important it is to go to bed.
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We shut Gary downstairs at night but on rare occasions I guess the door doesn't close properly or else he's desperate enough to get upstairs with us that he gets the handle pulled down enough to open the door--he can jump high enough, to my surprise; I've seen it.

Usually he only does this when I've gone out but Andrew's still sleeping so he has to take such extraordinary measures to be let out for a pee. But last night, after we went to bed but before we turned off the lights to go to sleep, I heard some strange noises and then he came bounding into the room and into the bed.

We didn't let him up here at first because I didn't want a bed full of dog hair and my sleep is interrupted/fragile enough without any external help. Then we found out that Andrew and Gary clash for some reason when Gary's allowed in our room, especially on the bed, so it was definitely not going to happen even on the days when he looks really sad to be left on his own (I'm not the soft touch Andrew is, but even I have heartstrings that can be susceptible at times!).

Last night he didn't growl or snarl at all but he didn't spend any time near Andrew either, he strode to the top of the blanket next to me (on the side away from Andrew), burrowed underneath--no small feat for a dog that still hasn't learned he can't get under a blanket he's standing on--and seemed to have every intention of staying just like that. I don't think either of us wanted to get out of bed to shut him downstairs again, so we thought we'd see what happened...and he was perfectly well behaved all night.

Having Andrew spooning up to one side of me and the dog pressed against my legs on the other side did make it quite a production to move or turn or do anything, especially when I had to go for a wee in the middle of the night. I didn't want to wake Andrew and I didn't want to push the dog off the bed! I think I managed. Yoga has given me good practice at this kind of thing.

But it never got past being a challenge and into being a problem. It was too nice to have all the cuddles. I've gone to bed on my own tonight and I miss that.


Mar. 16th, 2017 10:41 pm
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Gary's already gone on his holiday, staying with Andrew's dad because we'll be away this weekend.

I opened the front door after many hours of clerical by-election work without being met by barking, a wagging tail, or short legs padding excitedly to the door.

I ate my dinner with no rush to take the plate out to the kitchen, because there were no feet jumping up to bop me on the leg to indicate an interest in examining the plate for any tasty food. (He always gives up this hope once the empty dishes have been taken to the sink; such a helpful inducement to tidiness.)

And now I have to go to bed with no chance of snuggles.

We've only had the dog about eighteen months. How did we manage so long without one?!
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Here's a little clip of me and Gary from the BBC Breakfast twitter account.

I've had lots of nice messages from friends, family and even the people from Scope I talked to on Friday about this. Most of them have been about Gary.

I'm a bit sad my own family can't see me on TV -- while also kind of glad because they Don't Think of Me as Disabled and I'd worry they'd think I was complaining -- but I thought maybe I'd see about finding some nice stills from the video and getting them printed as proper photos for my family's Christmas presents. Seems a bit self-absorbed but I'm sure they'd like it. They don't have many pictures of me anyway. And none of the dog!
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I had the strangest day on Friday.

In the morning, I saw that [twitter.com profile] SurvivorKatie had linked a tweet at me about a focus group Scope were doing for visually impaired people. "It's a chance to get paid for what you do anyway!" she said, which made me smile. I told her I'd e-mail the guy for information like the tweet said to, but that I'd bet it's in London.

I e-mailed the guy and he e-mailed me back questions and details that didn't mention the word "London" anywhere (usually there's just a postcode or borough name hidden somewhere...) but yep, it was in London. So I wrote back to nicely suggest that they might like to include that fact in publicity for future such things because it saves the likes of me wasting their time (but I didn't say it like that, I said it in a nice way).

And I actually got a nicer reply than I expected: the guy said he'd only moved to London a couple of years ago and he'd gotten annoyed at how London-centric everything had been too. And he asked where I live since there are other things like this in other places.

We were e-mailing back and forth in between me getting ready for the day: I got dressed, walked the dog, all that kind of stuff. I was going to have a cup of tea with a friend, my new Bluetooth keyboard (Xmas present from Andrew) was arriving for my new tablet (birthday/Xmas present from [personal profile] mother_bones) was supposed to be arriving which I was looking forward to, I was going to the pub with the rest of the new WI committee that evening...it seemed like a nice enough day.

Just as I was getting to my friend's house, my phone pinged with an e-mail: it was from this Scope guy and it said something like "well actually we're looking for someone to do a media opportunity this afternoon, pre-record for the BBC for Monday, would you be interested?" I didn't look at it that closely, but I thought that all sounded okay so I wrote back yeah, sure and rang my friend's doorbell and didn't think much about it.

In the time it took me to drink about three cups of tea, I'd suddenly become this guy's favorite person because I think I'd solved a problem for them on pretty short notice. And this wasn't even going to be BBC radio like I'd been on a couple of times before, it was BBC Breakfast -- morning TV! They were going to talk about the "disability employment gap" and wanted a disabled person on who'd had trouble in, or getting, work. I was like hell yeah, I have opinions about that: If I had a job that didn't make me worse, it'd solve approximately all the problems in my life (while giving me a bunch of new ones, yes I know, but at least they'd be novelties).

As is the way of these things I was starting to hear slightly conflicting stuff and soon talking to a bunch of different people. After a few more e-mails and phone calls, what had changed to being a pre-record done over the weekend somewhere local to me (either my house or something like a cafe, and I was like...uh, yeah, cafe please, my house is awful), it suddenly became "right, I've got your address to tell the cameraman, he'll be on his way over really soon." I wasn't even home yet myself, I was still sitting on my friend's sofa when I heard that.

So I ran for a bus back from Reddish and on my way called Andrew and tried to explain. "He's coming here?" he said.

"I...guess so? I don't really know."

"But have you told him about our house?! Have you told him about Gary the Wonder Dog?! Why don't you go to Inspire instead?" All valid points, I felt, but there wasn't anything I could do about them.

I got home, needed a wee, but my phone rang again and the cameraman said he was leaving now so should be here in 30-45 minutes. I had enough time to wash my hair and put on a slightly-less-scruffy top. Andrew helped me pick everything up off the floor and furniture so it was at least possible for people to walk or sit down in our living room.

I was by this point anxiety-attack levels of anxious, though not exactly having an attack, and it was all about the state of me and the house rather than about the interview!

While I was waiting for the guy to show up, I talked to some Scope people about about this, what they'd like me to say if I could -- though they repeatedly emphasized that I should only say it if I actually thought it and not to worry if I didn't manage it. I think they were pretty grateful they'd found someone to do this and the guy I'd originally spoken to seemed to think it was as funny as I did that it'd turned out this way. "We're going to do this all backwards," he said, "because you'll do the interview and then I'll catch up with you and get details from you for our Stories project..."

And then the guy finally turned up and he was very nice. Since the dog, as always, went mental because someone had knocked on the door, I greeted him with "Sorry, I should've said we have a dog, I hope you're okay with dogs!" He was very okay, which was lucky really...or in another way, maybe not, because if he hadn't been maybe we could've gone to Inspire after all!

But then Gary wouldn't have ended up a TV star. But also nobody would see the piles of dirty dishes in my kitchen! "Swings and roundabouts," as the locals say.

Both of these things (dog and dishes, not swings or roundabouts) were used for "sequencing shots" -- the "look this is a normal person who does normal things!" kind of thing that's there to break up a talking-head interview, because really who wants to look at my stupid head for the whole two minutes or whatever they'll use.

I had to do everything twice -- play with Gary, put food in his bowl, pretend to wash one cup (so I guess at least if I look like I have a kitchen full of dirty dishes, I at least also look like I am actually going to do them!) -- so it could be filmed from different angles, and the whole thing seemed slightly surreal. I wasn't nervous about it because on some level I couldn't convince my brain it was really happening.

The guy was a bit self-conscious about all the faffing, messing with lights and doing things from different angles and whatnot, but I didn't mind at all because I was clearly a very small cog in a very big machine, and I could just wait to be told to do things and I didn't need to care if they were silly or confusing things. And it's not like they were difficult things. It was quite relaxing, actually!

Oh and as for what I talked about, I have basically no idea. My memory goes to shit when I'm anxious anyway. I do remember talking about Occupational Health being so shit when I started my NHS job, I hope that patronizing cow who tied my shoe for me hears herself being talked about on the telly, except I'm sure she doesn't remember it...). I probably talked for 15 minutes or so and they'll use two minutes of it and I have no idea which two minutes.

But you can all find out, if you want! It's apparently going to be on at ten to seven tomorrow morning, me pre-recorded with some employer in the studio saying no doubt that I am wrong about everything.

Anyway, what Scope asked me to mention is that there's a Government consultation going on into "helping disabled people find employment" but maybe we can convince them that the reasons we're not finding it are to do with employers disabling us rather than us just thinking life on benefits is so easy and nice that we can't be arsed getting a job... I'm going to try to write a response to the consultation, anyway, and would encourage any of my disabled chums to do so too. I'm happy to talk through or help anyone with that, if it'd help.


Nov. 19th, 2016 12:58 am
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Andrew and his mom went to a gig tonight so she's staying overnight.

When they got back we sat at the table, her smoking cigarettes and sharing her beer with me (the bag she brought with her seems to contain clothes, a tablet so she can listen to the radio all night, and cans of lager; I approve of all of this), and we all talked about progressive politics and how great Gary is and other good stuff.

And then we had to go to bed, so I checked on Gary and closed the door to keep him downstairs...but it wouldn't close! It was stuck nearly-closed. This extraordinary thing had never happened before.

I eventually discovered he'd left his Dentastix treat between the door and the frame, seeming for all the world as if it'd been intentionally placed there to wedge the door open so he could sneak upstairs to sleep with his humans. That's some dog, that wonder dog.


Oct. 22nd, 2016 06:02 pm
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I dreamed last night that Gary the Wonder Dog died. I was away somewhere and Andrew told me. I cried and cried. I looked at pictures of him on my phone and cried. But then somehow when I got back home Andrew had been wrong and he was fine and I thought my heart would burst from happiness. (Gary has shown up in my dreams before to cheer me up and I don't think my subconscious was willing to keep him away for too long.)

Then Andrew woke me up to tell me it was late and gary'd probably want to be let outside, so I went downstairs and he didn't need a wee but he curled up on my lap under a blanket and was so warm and furry and sweet and I was so happy he's there.

And then facebook told me it'd been a year since he came to live with us. We didn't know then he'd be here for good; it might just have been for a couple of months. And I posted these pictures that day.

Happy year-with-us, Gary the Wonder Dog.
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Andrew's trying to get the dog to stop barking.

"Calm grey ocean, Gary, calm grey ocean."

I was reading something, so it took a second for my brain to catch up with my ears.

"Calm grey ocean?" I was worried this was going to be part of his anti-sunshine, pro-overcast worldview, but no.

"Yeah, well, he's colorblind!" Andrew explained.

Of course. I should've known...
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I woke up because I was sure I felt the tiny but distinctive pressure of the dog jumping onto, and then moving around on, the bed.

I hadn't done any such thing, of course. We're keeping the dog downstairs again.

But so convincing was the notion, and so relieved was I to have been woken up (from horrible nightmares, for the second night in a row...), that I couldn't resist moving my foot slightly, to where I was sure I'd felt the dog.

Of course there was nothing there. But of course I still felt comforted by the little wonder dog just then, anyway.
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You discover you've both independently noticed, been unreasonably annoyed by, and articulated your annoyance at your mom persistently misgendering your dog.
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Gary and I have spent most of the day lying/sleeping on the couch.

I dragged one of the duvets downstairs and Andrew came over to tuck us under it (Gary has a Spike-esque love of being under blankets, especially head-first so sometimes you can see his tail sticking out and wagging gently).

"Funny, isn't it," I said as he draped the duvet over us, "as soon as you start your oh-noes-immunosuppressant-everyone-stay-away drugs, everyone else in your household gets sick." I've got Yet Another sinus infection; Gary probably ate something he shouldn't have off the ground on one of his walks the other day.
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When I was taking Gary the Wonder Dog for his walk this morning, I realized it was still taking longer than usual. Any slight deviation from our usual path to somewhere we haven't been since before Christmas means he still has to stop and sniff everything and/or wee on it.

Today, watching him lift his leg at a nondescript (to me at least) patch of brick wall, I suddenly thought actually, this is just like Ingress.

I've never played Ingress but I've spent time with friends who do, where every pub, bus ride and café you visit with them is a battleground invisible to me. Walking a dog is pretty much the same.


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