« March 2006 | Main | June 2006 »

May 31, 2006

Guido's Cart

with, and without, Guido.

Here's the basic cart from K9carts West:




And then same cart, modeled by our very own Guido:

Guido from the Side
Guido from the Side

Top View
Top View

Sounth end of a Guido headed North
Sounth end of a Guido headed North

Front View (mid-blink, of course)
Front View (mid-blink, of course)

Posted by Leo at 01:43 PM

May 21, 2006

A Return to Pacific Beach

It had been a year and a half since we'd taken the RV anywhere but to visit family.

The beach
That's a roughly 180 degree panorama of Pacific Beach.
Click on the pic for the full-size 14,591x1420 pixel version.

In that shot Our RV is fourth from the right. And yes, the beach really is that wide and spacious. It's great for taking the dogs out and about.

Jerome getting a snoot-full
The dogs love it. This is Jerome doing what they all did a fair amount: just stopping and inhaling deeply. We did the same.

Poking around on the beach
There was a lot of this too: just poking around and investigating.

Guido & Jerome
Guido sniffing and watching, and Jerome looking on.

Something Interesting
Something must be interesting...

Coming and Going
Jerome, Guido and Helen - coming and going.

Fetch the Stick
Sticks to be fetched, and dogs to be herded.

Guido looking for the ball, with assistance.
Guido looking for the ball, with assistance.

Jerome getting into the excitement.

All on the beach
Everyone on the beach on the last day.


Videos are all in "avi" format, and range from about 2 to 4 megabytes in size.

Fetching the stick
Guido takes a tumble as he fetches the stick. With help, of course.

Three Amigos
The three of them, off exploring.

There are more pictures and videos, specifically of Guido in and out of his cart, on this page: Guido at the Beach.

Posted by Leo at 06:27 PM

Guido at Pacific Beach

Using his cart, and not.


Our recent trip to Pacific Beach was a lot of fun for all of us. We were particularly interested to see how Guido, who has degenerative mylopethia (DM) would do on the beach, and in his cart.

First, though, was getting to the beach. That's actually a fairly long walk through sand that's hard for folks with all paws at 100%. So we brought with us the stroller we'd used last year for Vera:

Guido in the stroller

I got my work out pushing through the sand, and Guido got to ride like a prince.

(Videos are all in "avi" format, and range from about 2 to 4 megabytes in size.)

Guido still has use of his hind legs, but it varies a great deal on how tired he is, and whether or not he can sucker us into lifting or carrying him. This video's a great example of him on the beach without assistance:

Cigar Boy
Cigar Boy

You can see he can walk, but his right leg has a real tendency to fail on him. When he's really tired, he'll try but will often sort of half walk, half drag across the floor. And, of course, it's a degenerative disease, so it's only slowly getting worse.

So Guido has a cart. He can use it, but motivation is the key. Here's an example of him just sort of following along with us.

Guido in his cart
Guido in his Cart

Add a little "motivation" (aka food) and the pace picks up:

Guido in his cart - faster
Guido in his Cart - Faster

A little "motivation" and even problems can be solved:

Guido in his cart - solving problems
Guido in his Cart - Solving Problems

It was really interesting to see Guido get more and more comfortable and/or active. Before we quit for the day, a tennis ball was all he needed:

Guido and the Ball
Guido and the Ball

it's unclear exactly how comfortable he'll be with it over time, but it is clear that one of the ways to get him accustomed to it, is to put him in situations where he forgets he's in the cart. Sometime I'll have to take a video of Guido in his cart doing his most favorite thing: getting "hosed" - biting at, running after, and barking like a fool after the water coming out of a hose nozzle.

Yes, running.

Posted by Leo at 06:25 PM

May 11, 2006

"The Ask" at Marianwood's Spring Luncheon

May 11, 2006

I was once again asked to speak at this years Providence Marianwood Spring Luncheon. (Marianwood is the non-profit nursing home where my father now lives.) I'd given a family story at the luncheon two years ago, and this year I was asked to do what's called "The Ask".

I actually have a couple of things for you today…

If you attended this luncheon two years ago, I might look familiar. I spoke then about how my father came to Marianwood a year earlier. He'd broken his hip just a few months before my mother passed away.

My message then was simply how comforting it was to have him so very well cared for during what was an incredibly difficult time.

So it's two years later, and I'm happy to report that my dad's doing quite well, thank you. His Alzheimer's has, for lack of a better term, plateaued. His memories of past and present are intermixed and blurry, at best, but the memories he pulls out seem to be some of the more pleasant ones.

A couple of weeks ago I happened to visit on the day that the Eastside Harley group was visiting. He was inside, where he could watching the going's on in front of the building. He hates being even a little bit cold, so actually going outside wasn't in the cards.

My dad actually taught motorcycle marksmanship in the Dutch army at the beginning of World War II. He looked out at the various bikes in front of Marianwood and said that he'd pretty much had enough of that, and didn't need to do it again … his equivalent of "been there, done that".

He turned 90 earlier this year, and I still describe his situation as "content" - well, as long as he gets his coffee. He is, for the most part, accepting of his situation, or what he understands of it, and the A-unit staff take great care of him.

What more can you ask for, really?

Which brings me to my second topic.

First, I'd like to you understand a little something about me. I'm a computer geek. In all honesty, I'd be way more comfortable hiding behind a computer to send you all an email, than I am standing up here.

A while back I read that fear of public speaking is actually the most common phobia - even ahead of spiders and snakes. But public speaking and talking about and asking for money? That's gotta be off the scale.

What's drawn me out from behind my computer, though, is just how important I feel what Marianwood, and the foundation, are doing.

I had that re-enforced a few weeks ago.

As it turns out, this year we are facing many of the same issues with my mother-in-law, who's also 90, that we faced with my father three years ago. As with any family story, it's long, emotional and with more than its share of drama. Too much drama, to be totally honest, and I'll spare you the details.

We were discussing the situation with the administrator of a long term care facility in Bellingham, near where my mother in law lives, and she asked an interesting question: "what are your mother's assets?" meaning, of course, how much money does she have?

Now, I'm not offended by the question … that was a for-profit facility, and understanding their residents ability to pay is an important part of running their business.

But the implication bothered me … so I asked: what happens when the money runs out?

Well, first, you hope for Medicaid or related programs.

And if there's no Medicaid bed available?

Residents are asked to leave.

At the worst possible time, needing long term care, but without the money to pay for it, residents are asked to leave.

I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be placed in that situation.

Marianwood doesn't do that. Marianwood doesn't ask residents to leave because they've run out of funds.

So how can they pull that off?

One big part of the answer is very simple: just look around the room.

This room is full of people who have come together to show their support for Providence Marianwood. Support for the programs and services, and support for policies that say Marianwood can be your home for as long as you need.

You know why we're here, and this is it. The lunch has been wonderful, and Marilyn Grey's words inspiring … but here's where the rubber hits the road.

Now, don't pass those pledge cards out just yet...

If you're like me, you probably had a number in mind before you walked in the door. If nothing else, you've seen the phrase "a gift or pledge of $125 would be appreciated" in the invitations. And indeed, it would be very much appreciated.


Before you write that check, I want you to dream a little.

I want you to think of the number you already had in mind. Now, think of how wonderful that number would be if it had, say … an extra zero. That's all, just one little, extra zero tacked on the end.

Medicare falls short of covering actual cost, on average, by $30 per day … so instead of, a few days of coverage, you could make up the difference for over a month. A $150 dollar donation, with that little extra zero, turns into $1500 - and a new, safer, "high low" bed for a resident. (I'll tell you, these beds are great and safe solution for residents who might roll out of bed. My dad has one, and it's pretty cool.)

You've already written your check? That's ok! Down in that little memo field, write the following three words: "first of ten". Easy, right?

OK, ok, so I know 10 isn't for everyone. I get that. Think of your number again. Now, imagine how great it would be if everyone here simply multiplied there number by two! Could you consider doubling your donation? A $250 donation, doubled, could cover an entire month of the laughter therapy program.

Imagine if everyone here today did exactly that.

So, table coordinators, go ahead and pass out those envelopes and pledge cards now.

You know what? We can even make this easier … if you've already written your check for your original amount, grab the pledge card, and write down that same number again. You can even divide it up to just make an additional donation every month.

Or, of course, you could save yourself the trouble and just write a check for twice your number right now. Or 10 times your number.

Whatever number you finally write down, no mater how large or how small, please know how very much it's appreciated, and how much of an impact you are contributing to.

And while I know that whole '10 thing' might seem like a stretch, I do want to be clear that I wasn't really joking that much. I am putting my money where my mouth is. This is my personal check to Marianwood for $2,500. I hope that at least a few of you will join me by donating that extra zero. A little zero can go a long way.

But again, whatever amount you choose to give, I, and Marianwood, thank you very, very much.

Posted by Leo at 04:40 PM