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Life With Merrows, the Home Edition.

May 28, 2013

Merrows is a lap dog.  Not really what you’d expect a 14-month-old golden retriever to be.

We found this out completely by accident.  Kat and I were cruising along down the road.  Drew and Alex were in their booster seats in the back row.  Merrows settled herself at their feet on the mostly flat floor.  Until she decided to climb over the center console and flop herself indelicately on Kat’s lap.  There, her warm, soft girth spread over Kat’s lap until scant habitable room remained.  She looked quite satisfied.  She sighed contentedly then lowered her head down to rest on Kat’s leg, the only acreage left.  I wouldn’t classify her contorted frame as looking the least bit comfortable.  Kat just looked over at me and shrugged a little, then curved a slight smile.  Who wouldn’t want to be smothered in puppy?  All was well.

It’s a pretty decent first installment of Life with Merrows—the Home Edition.  Some surprises, but none really more than adjustments.  Like Merrows enjoying sleep on the cool tile floor in our tiny master bathroom.  This proves a challenge during the night when one of us stumbles in to use the toilet.  There you’ll find her, wedged between the shower stall and the commode.  “Pardon me, girl”, I’d whisper as I would sit askew the throne so as not to squish her with my feet.  She’d barely move.

Other things too.  Merrows splashes water all over the place when she bends down to wet her whistle.  She loves to play after dinner, usually a time when we try to wind Alex down a little so he’s appropriately zonked by 7:30, his normal bedtime.  Slowly, the surfaces of our home are being covered with her gossamer hair.  This was expected, though I always thought Kat’s long blonde tresses were plenty enough to make dust bunnies the size of New York City rodents.  Soon there will be a hoard of them beneath our beds and sofas, and behind our bedroom doors.  Please don’t look for these when you visit.  They will be there but they are not playthings.

Ten days have passed since we arrived home with her.  Not once has she protested, whimpered, scratched or barked out of turn.  We feed, water, walk, brush her and give her lots of love.  In return she makes no specific requests.  I’m beginning to think of her as The Invisible Dog.

Which is great for a service animal—especially in public.  Alex, on the other hand, has memorably whined, cried, punched, kicked, and otherwise thrown an impressive fit, one after another, since we’ve been home.  These have lessened in the past few days, made possible by a slight change in his medication—we think.

I’ve built a strong relationship with Alex’s psychiatrist.  Usually I see him on a monthly basis.  There, we discuss any trends good or bad.  Stuff like how he’s been sleeping, or his ability to focus or remain calm during transitions.  The last time we met was at the end of last month, a time when Alex seemed to be doing well.

Alas, things seemed to go downhill quickly after that.  Alex had a 101.5° fever a day or so later.  It subsided the next day.  Then we headed off to doggie boot camp.  Two weeks of a completely new routine, different bed (or closet, in Alex’s case), a new four-legged creature running around him mixed in to that.  And pooping problems.  If I were Alex, I’d probably be throwing a hissy too.

Alex’s psychiatrist told me that his older patients with autism typically took a week or so to be completely back to “normal”.  (Hah!  What the hell’s normal?  ::sigh::  I digress.)  In the past, Alex has typically been able to bounce back to his old regular (I didn’t say ‘normal’) self in a day or so.  Not now.  Not this time.

So…what to do?  Try the med change, as directed.  It might work.  It might not.  Both have happened many times in Alex’s past.  More trial and error.  I don’t like trials and certainly not errors for that matter.  Can we please do something that’s guaranteed to work?

As for Merrows, she rolls with it all.  My naïve assumptions that she would be trotting off to school with Alex the day after we got home—you know, helping him with his homework and protecting the world from the forces of evil and stuff, well…those days aren’t here yet.  Merrows needs to be corrected to get into and out of the car.  She needs to be corrected at grocery stores to heel next to our knees, and not next to the shopping cart.  She needs to stop eating grass/twigs/rocks.

We have to teach her.  We have to teach the people at school to handle her.  We have to teach the bus drivers, aides, nannies, his grandparents, his older brother.  There is lots of teaching.

This is what I’ve found hard—consistency.  That is, the same vocal commands, the same hand gestures, the same corrections, the same context for all these things.  When I used to teach people to fly, I found it easy to do these things—because I and I alone was the person doing the teaching.

But consistency is hard when there are more cooks in the kitchen and the recipe was only demonstrated to a few of us.

So, that’s where the challenges are with Merrows.  Alex’s challenges are ongoing.  And although both of them would be happily content with sitting on our laps for the rest of their lives, that’s not going to happen.  They will have to learn.  We will have to teach.

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From → Alex, Autism, Family Stuff

One Comment
  1. Brian permalink

    When you look back over the years, it was those really great teachers who stood out and possibly changed the path or choices of your life. And without knowing it, from their perspective it was also the same… those students they recall (most of them fondly, a few not) that in return taught them something (perhaps about themselves) and in some way left an imprint.

    I like to think that is all by design. Someday, in another place, maybe it will all be revealed.
    And for the record, we find you and Kat to be outstanding teachers and simply awesome parents.

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