Feel Good Stories

Chris P. Bacon. You Can't Keep a Good Man - Ops- Pig Down!

(picture from 'thespec.com')

Disabled?? I don't think so!!! Meet Chris P. Bacon, a piglet who cannot be stopped. He was born without the use of his hind legs and was brought to a Florida vet, Len Lucero, with the intent of his owner to put him down. Instead the vet asked if he could take over Chris' care, brought him home and then started creating a makeshift wheelchair for him out of K'Nex pieces. According to 'The Huffington Post' It seems that the set-up might be too light so Len contacted 'HandicappedPets.com' and it seems a person donated another wheelchair to Chris.

You can follow Chris' exploits on his Facebook page: Chris P Bacon Pig on Wheels; or Twitter: @ChrisPBaconPig.

Service Animals of All Sorts.

There was an article in today's 'Journal Express' that covered a visit to a local nursing home by owls. The Audubon Society of RI took 'Otie', a screech owl & 'Veria' a larger barred owl to present to the residents, talking about their lifestyle - what they eat, their night life, where they stay, etc. There were some residents who had books about local birds and loved to bird watch. Right now, the nursing home has 2 in-house parakeets - 'Tutti' & 'Frutti'. I know of some nursing homes that have cats who wander around and visit residents, often having a calming effect. (picture from MSN)

MSN showed a slide show of 'Unusual Therapy and Service Animals'. It shows a variety of animals used in nursing homes, hospitals, & schools for a variety of reasons. The standard animals of course are dogs, cats, maybe rabbits or guinea pigs. This slide show shows more animals are used and getting good results as people just connect to one of God's creatures.

Please take a look at the slide show but quickly reviewing other animals used: parrots, iguanas, horses, ducks, donkeys, monkeys, dolphins, llamas, cockatiels, white furred, pink eyed rats. These animals offer a wide range of 'services': they help people who are bipolar, depressed, blind, terminally ill, strokes, dementia, autisim, agoraphobic, quadriplegic, cerebral palsy, etc. The pets help people to: get focused, alert, get stability to moods, provide companionship, motivation, joy, animation, happiness, calm terminally ill patients, lessen anxiety, etc. There are a couple of unique ways South America is using these animals - the rat is being trained to locate landmines, dolphins are being used to touch pregnant women's stomachs to stimulate a baby's brain. In Russia, dolphins are used to help cerebral palsy children. Also check my 'Feel Good Stories' for a story about a young girl who uses a dog to carry her oxygen tank.

My mother's nursing home had a cat and would get visits from a dog which residents seem to enjoy. Mom was usually at dialysis when the dog arrived but the cat would come in and stay on the floor near her - not sure if she saw it. Even the Mayo Clinic states that "as scientists have discovered, animals have healing powers. When you stroke a cat or pet a dog, you experience a surge of healing hormones and chemicals that produce feelings of peace and serenity". The healing process can come from anywhere.

A Story About Believing in Non-Disability.

One of my cousins sent me this story. It is a must-see. Think about all the times you have felt you could not do something, you felt down about yourself, you wonder what your purpose is. This story will make you feel on-top-of-the-world. We have no major problems that cannot be overcome. 

Please take the time to watch the whole thing - it lasts about 14 minutes but it is worth every minute. Maybe you have already seen it but it is worth seeing again. Thank God for the parents he had.

There is not much more to say - the video says it all. 

Nick Vujicic.

Walking the Stage:

I was going through some things and came across Will's big day - when he was walking the stage this past June (although he doesn't get his diploma until he turns 21). Their class had their Work Activities Recognition Dinner a couple of weeks prior, when all the people in the class get certificates for a major achievement they accomplished during the year. For Will, it was for learning to use his communication device and programing his senior project into it; then using it to present his project, alongside a PowerPoint presentation, to the judges.

His classmate, Dylan, had a phenomenal year. Dylan has been in class with Will for years and all this time I have always seen him in a wheelchair. This year's dinner honored him for starting to walk with a walker. He made in from his seat at the dinner table to the front podium to get his certificate with minimal help. It was wonderful to see him walking. He got a rousing applause from everyone there - it was a surprise to many.

This also reminds me of a story I came across similar to Dylan's. This is the story of Austin Whitney. This college grad had the help of a computerized exoskeleton, a wearable robotic suit. It was originally developed to help soldiers lug heavy packs but now scientists are trying to use this device for a variety of uses, to hopefully even replace a wheelchair.

Can you image the independence people will feel if they can start using a device as this? Just push a button and get started. Even though people still will need the help of a walker or crutch, it will be a great achievement for anyone to not only literally get on their feet but to get to do some things for themselves, to a certain extent. Somehow being on your feet lets you feel more mobile. The system is called the eLegs rehabilitation system. Lets hope that these scientists continue to work on this, that no one cuts funding for it. Everyone needs a helping hand or a pair of legs.

Special Olympics:

Just a note to say that the games were wonderful again this year even though they were held indoors due to heavy rain and ran behind schedule. Both the athletes and coaches handled the readjustment of game schedule well. The games were fun to watch and the athletes did their very best at all events. As all the coaches went home tired from being coach, mom/dad, personal assistant or social secretary, they left with smiles on their faces and high-fiving everyone. Their dedication to the athletes showed through the tiredness and confusion with the changes as they never left their side and got them to all the events on-time with last minute encouraging words. Thanks again to all!!! You guys are the best!!

Go back a month ---

As the practices come to an end and the pre-game is over, excitement and enthusiasm rises as we get closer to the Summer Games at URI for both the athletes and coaches. Will has been talking about it for about a month now, reminding me when he goes on the bus and sleeps over.

Everyone leaves on a Friday heading to the university for a day of games, settling into the dorms, seeing their friends from other cities and towns, meet the out-of-state group that joins them and get ready for the opening ceremonies later that evening. Sometimes taking it easy so they can enjoy the after-ceremony pizza party and dance. (they have such a good time) When it is nice, the ceremonies are held outside complete with the groups parading in, speeches, the motorcycle run preceding the torch (last year the total motorcycle count was around 1200 - the kids LOVE it when they come in), then the torch which has been literally on the road from the capital city all day (runners from local law enforcement bring it down) lights the flame for the start of it all. There have been about 1500 athletes meeting for the games.

The next day is full of games and fun, especially fun when the day is nice - the Special Olympic Village is outside, where each team, and their family, has a spot to sit and rest and eat. One tent holds free massages, arts and crafts, and sometimes child ID groups that will give families special forms, fingerprints or videos, one time there were teeth imprints of ALL children in the family. There usually is another tent where eye and teeth exams are done for free for athletes. Of course there are food stands; a great big 'Thank You' to the Knights of Columbus - they sell burgers and/or hot dogs, drinks, etc and all proceeds go to Special Olympics. The best part is watching the kids get their medals.

I want to say "thank you" to all our local coaches for the great work they do. Their commitment to our group is wonderful - most have been with the group for years, which says a lot about them. They have a sleepless night at the Summer Games, too worried about the kids being Ok, making sure they are safe, and being right there if someone has an issue (especially with the first-timers). They can be commended for their loyalty to the kids and their families, to make sure everyone stays involved and feel important to the group.

Anyone looking for a great charity to donate to? This would be the one!!!

Service Animals:

"Girls best friend is a dog that carries her oxygen."

http://happynews.com/news/3212012/girl-best-friend-dog-carries-oxygen.htm (you may need to copy & paste)

Love this story. I think if I had to do it all over again, I would spend my educational time getting licensed for pet therapy and/or training service dogs (when I was younger, Pet Therapy was not around and the only service dogs I remember hearing about were K-9s and maybe for the blind but not advertised much, especially as a career). This is a great service for people. Dogs are also being credited for detecting cancer. They have kept people warm in extremely cold climates: hence the '3 dog night'. Dogs are used to pull sleds carrying people and supplies (and race) in snowy geographical areas. Who can forget the friendly St. Bernard that carries alcohol in his trusty barrel around his neck to give the stranded the internal warmth they need. Some have come to the rescue of people having seizures and waking families when fires have started in their homes. Imagine the possibilities of using these animals.
I love the fact that this family went the way of the service dog - it not only gives the girl a way around her oxygen situation but gives her a friend, a protector. I feel the dog will also get other children to befriend her and not be so wary around her. Sometimes having another adult around can make people stay away, they don't want to hurt the child, they don't want to seem nosy, they might stare. A dog will invite a possible pat on the head (hopefully people will know to ask first when a dog is in service mode), people are more likely to talk about the dog, not the child's situation.
Pet Therapy has come into Will's classroom. Once a year, a local therapist visits his class where the students get to interact with the dogs. One student was so enthralled with it, he did his senior project on it.
I hope to see more people go this route of possible solutions. Not only are the dogs portable, they don't ask much in return, they are easy to feed and at the end of the day, there may be a nice slobbery kiss for you, no matter how stressful the day was.

Communication At Its Best:

This is a great story about a young girl, Carly, trapped in her body and head who needed a way to release her energy, thoughts, and feelings. It reminds me a little of how we started Willie with a communication device, although he cannot express himself as she can. Go to 'Mute girl thought to be mentally retarded shocks everyone'.

Take a look at the wonders that lie below a person's actions, things aren't always the way they seem. Thank God she had wonderful parents who took the time to give her the therapists she needed, took the time to explore the opportunity for her to express herself, have the patience to wait for her to share her thoughts and feelings and desires.

One thing we have to remember, all these special needs young people are just that - young people. Their thought process may be different, their communication skills vary, their outward mannerisms may seem to be strong sometimes leaning toward harsh or angry. Get beyond that, they are typical children, teens and young adults. When you are at a function, spend some time people watching - you will find the girls concerned about how they look, the boys love food and music. As they get older, you will find them interested in the opposite sex - will watch them. Willie, for example, loves blonds and will seek them out if he wants to 'talk' to someone different. I have seen other boys watching girls that walk by. 

These children cannot just be thrown into a category, dismissed because they don't relate like others their age may. Just remember - not all of the REST OF US are perfect and know how to relate to others at times. Think of your own family - how many times have we commented that we are different from our siblings, our children are all different from each other. Look at your workplace-- everyone is different from how they learn, to how they get their work done, to how they relate to others in the workplace and/or clients. Sometimes it takes us time to get to know someone, to know how to relate to them beyond 'Good Morning'.

If this school vacation has taught me anything, it has been patience, and my lack of it A LOT of times. Between mom being so sick and then dying, now handling the post-death 'stuff' (I have no siblings), and also trying to keep up a regular home atmosphere and schedule, while Willie has been reminding me at least 20 times a day that we were supposed to go on vacation and that he wants to go swimming, starting at 6 am when he wakes, I know my patience level has been very low. Thank goodness work has slowed down, one last thing to worry about.

I admire this family and hope they all continue to be able to help Carly express herself and grow. 

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A Caregiver's Poem

I was looking through a 'Caregiver's Blog: Senior Care Support' and came across a poem that was shared by a writer, Dana, from the blog. The poem was written by Becky Netherland and Dana's grandmother shared it with her. I thought it was great and there is not much to say about it - just read!!! Enjoy!!

Grandma’s Pearls of Wisdom:
(picture from Caregivers Blog)

I’ve traveled paths you’ve yet to walk
Learned lessons old and new
And now this wisdom of my life
I’m blessed to share with you
Let kindness spread like sunshine
Embrace those who are sad
Respect their dignity, give them joy
And leave them feeling glad
Forgive those who might hurt you
And though you have your pride
Listen closely to their viewpoint
Try to see the other side
Walk softly when you’re angry
Try not to take offense
Invoke your sense of humor
Laughter’s power is immense!
Express what you are feeling
Your beliefs you should uphold
Don’t shy away from what is right
Be courageous and be bold
Keep hope right in your pocket
It will guide you day by day
Take it out when it is needed
When it’s near, you’ll find a way
Remember friends and family
Of which you are a precious part
Love deeply and love truly
Give freely from your heart
The world is far from perfect
There’s conflict and there’s strife
But you still can make a difference
By how you live your life
And so I’m very blessed to know
The wonders you will do
Because you are my granddaughter
And I believe in you.

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