This piece, about our adventure across the skies, traveling home to Singapore from Sydney, was first published in the Greyhound Equality Society website. I am republishing it here with some minor edits (mainly typos and grammatical errors).
Lucy’s Grand Adventure.
– Dawn-joy Leong.
Lucy Like-a-Charm has graced my life for four years now. Lucy is my assistance dog. An assistance dog is one that performs specific tasks to address a disability. For me, Lucy primarily helps to mitigate the effects of autistic hypersensory anxiety, by warning me in advance about potential triggers, thus preventing serious sensory overload and meltdown. As an assistance dog, Lucy has connected me to the wonderful mindDog Australia family. As a rescued former racing Greyhound, we are part of the Greyhound Equality Society, advocating for Greyhound welfare. Yet, Lucy is much more than all these, she is also my research assistant, advisor and creative muse, inspiring unique trajectories to explore and ponder, and my Canine Angel, a beautiful reminder of the preciousness of parallel embodiment. Continue reading →
Lucy at the Rocks, surveying our bustling surrounds.
The Teena Procession arrives at the Sydney Opera House!
A room with a view – looking out from inside the Sydney Opera House.
What does it feel like to be in an inclusive as well as embracing milieu? Yesterday, Lucy and I spent six hours in the company of people who demonstrated what open hearts and minds mean. My instinctive reading of the group told me they were a mixed bag of neurotypical and neurodiverse from all walks of life. It was a grueling two day workshop for art educators, but to me, on the very simple basic level, we were just earnest humans sharing experiences and insights, inspiring one another to develop professional and personal skills, strategies and perceptions. Artistic practice is truly a cogent agency for empathic edification. Continue reading →
The song that looped in my mind this morning while out walking with Lucy was Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You.” I was thinking about Lucy, and how she has made such a tremendous difference to my life. People often stop us and ask me what Lucy does for me, as my service dog. Most of the time, they are polite and genuinely curious to know. I take it as part of advocacy, not just for autism and how service animals can improve our lives, but also for Greyhounds as companions and the human-dog bond. I do not only focus on what service dogs can do for us human, but also on what our responsibilities are towards our close animal friends. It is a symbiotic, synergetic relationship. Continue reading →
How could anyone not notice the garish yellow vest on Lucy?
Lucy’s beef slices in the dehydrator.
I am exhausted, but most chuffed. We both had a challenging morning, an adventure! To me, whatever achievement I have attained is always celebrated in my mind with a great sense of relief, half disbelief, and complete elation. It doesn’t matter to me how they measure in the neurotypical social systemic realm, every single realisation of strength is a milestone along my wonderful journey. Now, with Lucy by my side, I have someone to share my successes with in an intimate way that will never be possible with another human, a sensorial-spiritual affinity that needs no words.
So, what did we do today?
We made a trip to the shops together. Simple? Yes, but a monumental task for us both. Consider the realm of hyper senses, which is where we both begin our existences. Continue reading →
Good Friday public holiday here. Lucy and I went for an hour long walk this morning. I am taking the long weekend off from my own brain, to engage in more relaxing activity of the senses. We walked to the nearby Whittle Park. Then meandered through the university on our way home. The university grounds are almost empty, save for the very hardworking few. We took our time, and I didn’t hurry Lucy along, I let her sniff at everything that interested her. Well, except for anything that I deemed unsafe or unsavoury – like discarded food scraps, dead animals and anything that resembled doggy poop. (She is thankfully not very interested in the latter category.)
I also observed the various facilities in my university for wheelchair and mobility access, while mulling over the thought that despite the high standards in my university, it is a fact of life that if one is differently abled, the path is always more winding and circuitous than for the general population. All the way, I pay maximum attention to Lucy. When we are out on our walks, she is the object of my scrutiny, and I try to be as alert to her body language as I can be. When I want to take a photograph of something that interests me, I first check to see if Lucy is relaxed and I make sure she is in a safe position, with her leash firmly in my grasp at all times. I am also ready to ditch my camera at the first sign of unease, even if I had to drop it. She is more important. I am far from where I want to be at reading her, but I am determined to make the effort to keep improving. Continue reading →
Lucy placidly sleeping at my feet at the lecture – helping mum not to scream!
Lucy doing her job at the conference.
Food is a good go-to for mitigation of the overwrought sensory landscape. My lovely Lucy is the best, though, because hugging the hound is far healthier than stuffing one’s face and belly full of cheap food. Nevertheless, I am doing both.
The pain levels have shot back up, so I am tucking into soup and mushy chicken wonton, most wantonly so. Its not high cuisine, I overcooked them and so the chicken is chewy and the wonton skin is slubbery. But it’s food. And it did help. Continue reading →
Non-gluten oat and cheese biscuit – nothing to look at, but pretty tasty!
My Lucy reminds me all the time about goodness, Grace and gratitude. I am so lucky to have her. I made a tray of non-gluten oat and cheese biscuit today. It looked boring and bland, it was a little more crumbly than I would’ve liked, but it tasted good anyway. (Photo taken before cutting into smaller bite-sized squares.) This will last me awhile. The brain worm that these two visual images triggered in my mind? Here… Continue reading →
The kangaroo mince I ordered for Lucy arrived at last. The Canidae grain free dry food too. In the flurry and stress of the Grand Finale episode with the thieving cheat Miss L, I had failed to order both on time, and for four days, had to feed my baby girl with minced beef from the local grocer. Well, there was still some minced beef left in the fridge, I had a careful sniff at the stuff, and it was still good, but not to my satisfaction for raw feeding. So, I decided to cook it for myself. Continue reading →
Today’s breakfast was less weird. Avocado, anchovies, chopped red onion and tomatoes, olive oil. That is it. Brain food? Maybe. Whatever the case, this yummy breakfast has indeed set some thoughts in motion.
For me, and most Aspies with a passion for some subject or activity, almost everything in our lives can be constructively linked to our intensely-focused interests. Even the most horrendous experiences, once overcome and dusted off, linger on forever as pieces of analytical and inspirational fodder for my work. Continue reading →
The mild nagging fever continues. Physical malaise. Mental ennui. Lucy’swonderful Godmama took her off my hands this morning, so I could rest. She loves her Godma. But for me, it felt strange to see her ride off in the car, looking at me through the glass window, as I waved a cheerful goodbye. Don’t get me wrong, I was quite happy and grateful, even relieved, that my lovely friend was willing to bring her along on an outing. I could get some guilt-free sleep. But we are seldom ever parted, and it just felt surreal.