Wheelchair Gets Mark of Loyalty from Best Friends

by Brice Carroll on May 1, 2007 - 3:29pm

QUEST Vol. 14, No. 3

Brice Carroll, a retired accountant, and Sheba live in Hot Springs, Ark. He has limb-girdle muscular dystrophy.

My wheelchair is going to the dogs. Literally. Most dogs initially treat my wheelchair as a foreign object to be disliked and barked at. But they accept it after they get used to it.

Matter of fact, after one neighbor dog, Buster, accepted it so much, he casually “marked” it as his own, with liquid marker! I was especially unhappy about it because I was in the chair at the time and my foot became collateral damage.

Fortunately, I was holding a water hose and was able to deliver a vengeful squirt to Buster and then wash off the marker. He disliked the squirt I gave him almost as much as I disliked the one he gave me.

Eventually dogs get used to my chair and act like it’s not even there. Until they get their foot or tail under a wheel. I try to help them avoid that by telling them to “look out” before I start to move my chair.

Unfortunately my wife, Sharon, has never learned. I can tell her “look out” and she gives me a blank stare. But she does respond promptly when I say “excuse me, please.” She must be a slow learner. But how she learned a three-word phrase so easily but can’t understand two simple words is beyond me.

Leader of the pack

For some reason, neighbor dogs love to tag along when I take my black Lab, Sheba, for a walk in our semi-rural, unfenced neighborhood.

Joy, Buster, Sally, Jake, Daisy Mae, Vanilla, Lilly and Lacy are just some of the dogs that like to go along. I’ve had six dogs, and who knows how many fleas, with me numerous times.

When people pass us in their cars and pickups (this is Arkansas, so most are pickups), they usually smile and wave and think it’s cute.

Others don’t seem so pleased, but what can they say? They don’t want me to sic a whole pack of dogs on their vehicle. What a “mark-fest” that would be.

I do have a few problems with some dogs. Mine, especially. The other dogs are happy to go any direction I choose to go. But Sheba thinks I should go wherever she wants to go.

When we come to a fork in the road and I go a direction she doesn’t want to go, she just sits down. Sits and looks at me like, “You dummy, are you lost?”

I refuse to let my own pet think she is controlling me! So I nonchalantly change directions as if it was my idea.

Down, girl!

Joy loves to be petted, but she wants to rear up on me. Especially, it seems, when her paws are muddy.

She tries to stop herself because she knows I’ll gripe at her when she does. But inevitably, she’ll get real nervous, let out a loud “poor me” whine and rear up on me in spite of herself.

I should be more stern with her, but she obviously loves me more than she can say. I understand that and sympathize, because I also love me more than I can say.

One time my neighbor, Dave, and his dog, Sugar Bear, were visiting. Dave scolded Sugar Bear for something, and before I could react, he climbed into my chair with me for protection. (Sugar Bear did, not Dave.)

He didn’t jump; he crawled, lightning fast, up into my lap.

I’m just glad Sugar Bear didn’t scare Dave. Dave’s not as fast, but he’s much bigger and not nearly as cute.

Dog slimes man

Then there’s Buster — again. The same one that claimed my foot as his property. He’s a large mastiff and he’s a good dog, except when he sneaks up on me when he wants to be petted. Buster is so tall that he can just walk up and slide his head across my leg into my lap. That wouldn’t be a problem except for his big wrinkled jowls, which cause him to slobber constantly.

In other words, he slimes me.

When I scold him for doing it, Sharon scolds me back. She says that he can’t help himself; he just wants to be petted. And I say that I can’t help myself either; I just don’t want to be slugged. (It looks like a giant slug has recently crawled across my leg.)

One day I saw him coming while I was holding a long stick. Before he could slime me, I held the stick out in front of me.

He didn’t stop until the stick barely touched his cheek. It moved his lip just enough to let what appeared to be a quart of water spill out of his mouth, onto my shoes.

That explained why he was always slobbering. He carried a supply of slime rejuvenator with him at all times.

But although he slimed my shoes, it wasn’t nearly as bad as being “marked.”

No votes yet
MDA cannot respond to questions asked in the comments field. For help with questions, contact your local MDA office or clinic or email publications@mdausa.org. See comment policy