Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pickled Grace

“A dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than you love yourself.” Josh Billings

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As I turn the lights on to the Christmas tree, Pickles steps up beside me and nudges my hand. I absently stroke the top of her head. There is a silent agreement between us, dog and human; it’s that time of the year again. We recognize this place, this starting point that becomes us – the working dog and the human who so desperately needed her.

In a couple weeks it will herald the third year of our beginning, our friendship and my biggest lesson in life – how to love unconditionally. December 12th is not just an ordinary day, its Pickles arrival date in my life.

In the meantime, Pickles curls up beside the tree and I sit typing this story on my laptop. Chuckling, I can’t help but think how things have come full circle, for in a way this too resembles the beginning.

This is Pickles’ story and mine…perhaps more hers.

However the actual beginning started with me. I often mistakenly say I got Pickles a year after my encroaching deafness, in reality it was two years. The first year of my silence is another story for another day. I will say this – I fought my deafness with all I was. And yes, it was a futile battle. The quiet absence of sound would be my life from then on in. When I stopped fighting and started accepting the inevitable, I became determined to find a way back to me. You see I thought I had lost far more than my hearing and had become something less than. The reality being I had not even begun to find me - until then.

In desperation I was driven to the computer exploring every little tidbit I could find on late deafened individuals. Just as I was about to give up the ghost of finding my answer, an article highlighting working dogs for the deaf, caught my eye. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had read and how it would work to my advantage. Sadly yes, it was all about me in those days. I was lost in self pity and forlorn depreciation of life in general.

The picture above was my introduction to Pickles. I fell in love with her right then and there, more so when I discovered her story. Not only was she a Katrina survivor, she had spent the past year being passed around in shelters until the agency I obtained her from, found her. Not unlike me, Pickles was looking for a place to belong, a place to fit in.

She was the animal equivalent of me. Somehow I knew her before I ever laid eyes on her.

Pickles and I would discover all we needed to know of each other in the following two weeks after her arrival. We would be literally attached by a leash 24/7 as part of her training, to make sure she understood I was the human she would be working for. Honestly, she is a working dog with all the restrictions that come with that title and yet so much more. I no longer think it’s training but something more spirited that exist between us. Six months later I would understand that last assertion intimately.

The night before I had been sick with a lung infection, struggling to breath, weak and confined to the bed. I remember seeing Pickles pad into the room, watching me with concern in her eyes from the end of the bed before I faded off to sleep. When I awoke the next morning, Pickles was beside my bed (no small feat as there was barely enough room for her 65lb body), sitting there with her head nestled against my arm. Her bloodshot, drooping eyes signify she had been there all night, going without sleep to watch over me. I think I knew then there was much, much more to her quirky personality and me finding myself amidst the silence. She wasn’t just my working dog - she was fast becoming my teacher.

And if you’re wondering…yes, Pickles was instrumental in helping me accept my deafness. As a matter of fact, she can even be credited with me becoming a writer. How? It all began with those first few entries entailing Pickles arrival in my life.

How fitting that Pickles training with the leash ended on Christmas Eve. How perfectly she fit into my life and I hers. I get up and join Pickles staring at the tree lost in contemplation. It stands as a reminder to us of how far we’ve come. Pickled grace - indeed.

*If you’re looking to make a donation this Christmas, a chance to give another individual the miracle that is Pickles to someone else, you can do so by donating to the following agency:

International Hearing Dog, Inc.
5901 E. 89th Ave.
Henderson, CO 80640-8315

www.ihdi@aol.com or
www.pawsforsilence.org

Your donations help deaf individuals who might have otherwise not been able to afford a working dog, obtain one. They work exclusively with re-homing shelter dogs. Give the gift of human connection, a gift of hearing to a deaf individual this Christmas in the form of a hearing dog.

From my heart to yours - Indigo

36 comments:

  1. Wow, Indigo ... thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story of both of your entries into one another's lives. It was just lovely and brought not only a smile, but a tear <3

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  2. Gosh I'm such a sap, this brought a tear to my eyes. :(
    It's such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it.
    Your story, it's just, such a struggle. And Pickles, how he fits in, just amazing.

    I love my dogs, like you wouldn't believe. When I've gone through miscarriages they are there for me, unconditionally. As I pace around in pain as I pass the baby at home my dog paced back and forth with me. Offering her body to me if I needed to collapse in pain. Wow, I might just have to blog about her, now that you've inspired this memory.

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  3. Indigo I remember well your orginal posts about Pickles. I think I commented that you two were meant for and deserved each other.
    I had never heard before that time of using a dog to assist hearing impaired.
    Recently I came across this blog Assistance Dog for Autism, http://assistdogautism.blogspot.com/. I am not sure just how they aid or assist but they are also working dogs. The blog is written by Clive who is the dog. Very interesting read,
    Was good to see you were a follower of DB.

    Bill

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  4. Touching tribute and memory, tried to order T-Shirt and donate, ended up only donating :o)

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  5. I love hearing you tell stories about Pickles because I know that she is such a beautiful part of your life-- That she is so cherished! Big hugs, my friend, thank you so much for sharing.
    xo

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  6. You know, I just love Pickles also. I love how she watches over you, I have that also with my Zoey. I understand the bond. Great entry.

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  7. I'm always so glad Pickles came into your life or did you come into Pickles... :)

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  8. I remember reading about Pickles in your older posts. It it such a touching story. How wonderful that you have each other.

    ps~love that picture on your header.

    xoxo

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  9. What a wonderful and neat story...

    I'm so glad you and Pickle found each other:)

    Over from Yaya's.

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  10. hugs and cuddles to pickles. a job well done, just look at you!

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  11. A dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than you love yourself.” Josh Billings

    I agree totally with the above statement! What a wonderful story about you & Pickles! I am so glad that you both have one another!~

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  12. Wonderful story. Thanks so much for sharing. I really can't imagine my life without my pups. But sometimes when I'm writing a sad part of a book and I get teary, my border collie, beside himself, tries to climb between me and my computer. He blames the computer for my woes and I just can't seem to get him to understand the difference between fictional tears and real tears. But his valiant efforts always make me laugh.

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  13. I think that it is a wonderful tribute to you both. You complement each other so well, and it is a special bond that the both of you share.

    To me, I think that you both found who you are now, through finding each other, if that makes any sense!

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  14. Dear Indigo, what a wonderful story and a wonderful friend you have in Pickles. I think that dogs are God's instrument to show us unconditional love.

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  15. i'll say this much... it's ironic that you're deaf, b/c unlike so much of what i read, your voice is one that i can actually hear above most others.

    this was a beautiful post.

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  16. lovely story from a lovely lady and pretty cute pup too!

    xo

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  17. Wonderful story! if we could only teach unconditional love to humankind what more love, peace & joy there would be in the world. Thanks for this memory. hugz!

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  18. Merry Christmas to both you and Pickles. How sweet to have an anniversary at this time of year!

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  19. Wow. Such love. Such good fortune.

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  20. Indigo,

    I found your blog via my friend Alicia's 'Yaya Stuff' blog.

    What a wonderful story this is! "Happy unconditional love anniversary" a little early to you and Pickles. :)

    Jeanne

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  21. Now that's a worthy cause...

    I'm so glad Pickles helped you to discover yourself, so you could share all of this beauty with us. Thank you for your beautiful blog!

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  22. Pickles! She's a big sweetie!

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  23. Thank you for this lovely post! You and Pickles are lucky to have found each other. Happy anniversary to you both.

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  24. What a sweet tribute to such a wonderful friend. You are both so lucky to have each other.

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  25. That was beautiful, thank Pickles for me. You are blessed to have each other.

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  26. I love you, Indigo. What a great post!

    Merry Christmas,

    SB

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  27. i wish i could hug pickles. yes, and you. :-)

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  28. I love Pickles' story, and yours!

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  29. Thank you for sharing this. For introducing us to the darling Pickles and giving us a snapshot of unconditional love.

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  30. I'm wondering how Pickles got that name. I'm sure you told that story before I was reading you. Don't tell me Pickles eats pickles. Wonderful story Indigo.

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  31. Sweet sister ~ your beloved Pickles is an angel sent to earth in doggy form. *hugs*
    Have a lovely holiday...

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  32. Oh, Indigo. This is so touching. Thank you for Pickle's story.

    Big hug to you.

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  33. I love this story so much. I am so beyond grateful that I got to read your post through Krista's and now I can follow along on your journey and read your beautiful writing any time I damn well please :)

    So lovely to meet you, Indigo :)

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  34. Bless that little perfect Pickles! ;P

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  35. You know Indigo you have come so very far in these years that I have had the pleasure to be part of your blogging life. I am so so proud of you. AS for Pickles...As it is the 12th today mayeb I shoudl say happy comeday...not birthday !! An elderly friend over here in UK was one of the every first to recieve a hearing dog over 23 years ago...it was amazing the change in her attitude.
    Much Love sybil xx

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Thank you for giving my silence a voice, my muse your words, and taking the time to discover my prose.