When I decided to quit my job and make my first cross-country trip, I could picture it perfectly: a mix of taking in beautiful mountain and water scenery, visiting monuments and museums, consuming unhealthy and fresh food alike, hiking through our national parks and walking through new cities. Transportation would be in my four-door sedan and accommodations in rented homes and motels. And right there, riding shotgun beside me, would be Reuban, my chocolate lab.
At less than a foot tall and under 25 pounds, Mr. Jackson might not seem like the powerhouse that he is in our family. His floppy ears and big brown eyes make him adorable, but it's the intelligence and sensitivity that are apparent through those eyes that have made him my constant, loyal and vital partner in caregiving for my parents over the past five years. As caregivers, we all need to build a caregiving team - no one can do this alone. But I couldn't have predicted the crucial role this four-legged team member would play. I can't imagine my caregiving journey without him.
The shriek of a 3-year-old can crack glass, shift a house on its foundation and register on earthquake scales 100 miles away. If you doubt that, come on over while Gracie, my granddaughter, pierces the air with a sound that is somewhere between a siren and a scream that will leave you vibrating for days.
I'm fortunate to have one of most adorable dogs in the world - Cara, our 7-year-old wire fox terrier - watching over our house (nearly always from inside) pretty much 24/7. She is diabolically effective in scaring Darrell, our cheerful and ever-reliable postal carrier, away from the house within moments after he's left mail at our front door.
In 1964, then New York Times reporter and later book author Gay Talese wrote a short profile of a man who had embarked on what seemed like a unique, exotic profession. Jim Buck walked other people's dogs - 30 or 4o of them a day - while their owners were at work.
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