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Day 45

Updated: Apr 19

My life is a Hank Williams song—I lost my baby, my house, and now my dog. I need to start drinking bourbon.

Otis, my daughter’s service dog, moved out this weekend. He’s going to live with and assist another child with autism. Otis can save lives. There is a two-year-long waiting list for an service dog with his skills; hence, the guilt of hoarding Otis, was counteracting the comfort I was getting from his presence. More to the point, as I no longer have a home, I do not have a place to keep him.

When I have a home and a yard again, Autism Service Dogs of America said they will give me a dog that failed the program. It will likely be from the same or similar breeder as Otis. We all have dim relations, and they all have to live somewhere.

In the security line at the airport, an entitled jerk started grilling me about what service dogs provide people with autism. Some people seem to believe their unsolicited inquisitions are an appropriate form of public policing. They are not. Most of the time, they are asked in front of a person with special needs. Talking about a person’s disability in front of them, but not to them, is never acceptable. It is dehumanizing and sets my tuchus ablaze.

When Mr. Socks in Sandals asked in a tone of condemnation what exactly service dogs do for people with autism, I said, “Some people with serious challenges as a result of an autism spectrum disorder have eloping behaviors where they walk into traffic, drown in a body of water, or get lost. The service dog prevents that, as well as helps with other behaviors.” In a tone of skepticism, he said, “They get lost?” I repeated my statement in a tone so sharp, the bodybuilder in front of us turned around to see if he needed to tag in. The inquisitor quipped, “Phew, right.”

I am happy to discuss my daughter’s service animal with those responsible for the safety of all travelers. Everyone else should Google their questions.

When I reached the end of the line, I had to loiter while Otis’ dog food went through extra testing. Some Japanese tourists stopped to take my and Otis’ picture. I snapped, “Don't take my picture; that’s not appropriate,” and they dispersed like doves fleeing Trafalgar Square. A security officer wondered out loud if it was the six-foot-tall blonde in five-inch heels or the white dog that they thought was exotic enough to necessitate a photo.

In the 45 days since Constance’s passing, Otis’ grief and boredom have led to some social challenges. For example, he has sneaked under fences and peed in the yards of other dogs. This made the other dogs furious. They would become deranged, barking at him, and he would sit happily, listening with a serene smile while wagging his tail back in the sanctuary that is our yard. Neighbors would apologize to me, presuming their dogs were to blame, as Otis never got caught in the act or barked back. Otis was a mischievous dog when he was off duty, well off duty and grieving.

Constance loved Otis from the moment she got him. The first evening they were together, he jumped up on her hotel bed, and she cuddled and slept with him. She was so proud of him and loved all the compliments people gave her about her well-trained, handsome dog.

Leaving Otis with Laurel was bittersweet. Otis and I were beaming with joy at the sight of Laurel. She’s the kind of intelligent, compassionate person that redeems your faith in humanity and makes you wish for a cloning machine. Laurel has built and run a fantastic organization. I admire all she has done with her life. I do not doubt that in the brief period when Otis will be staying with Laurel before he is placed with his new family, he will be surrounded by love and kindness. Further, I know Laurel will ensure the new family is trained to provide Otis with care and love.

Despite my knowledge of Otis’ happiness and security, I still miss him. I’m alone in a vacant house, missing Otis, missing Constance, and so lonesome I could cry.


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5 kommentarer

Ukendt medlem
27. sep. 2018

Stacy, Thank you for your kind note and for reading.

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Ukendt medlem
15. jul. 2018

Rachelle, this post had all emotions come out in me...anger from people's feeling of entitlement to video or take pictures of you and your dog (been there!); laughing out loud with tears in my eyes finding out Lucie is not the only mischievous service dog out there (I have sometimes wondered. I call her our strong-willed service dog), and uncontrollable sadness at the thought of you saying goodbye to Otis after two years of him serving your daughter and family. If only giving Otis to another family could bring back Constance :(.

I can't thank you enough for sharing your grief to the world. Whenever I have that moment of overwhelming feelings for my son's autism, I am going to…

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Ukendt medlem
25. jun. 2018

Day 46 is at

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Ukendt medlem
01. maj 2018

Susan, thank you for your kind words. Your friendship is appreciated. XOXO

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Ukendt medlem
30. apr. 2018

Dear Rachelle, I have been reading your blog for a week now and find it so powerful, painful and loving. I wish there were something I could do or say that would take some of your pain away. I appreciate all your have lovingly shared about your sweet little daughter who I feel privileged to have known during her brief life. Please be assured that you will always have a special place in my heart and your daughter’s memory is a gift that I will continue to cherish.

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