Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Claren is 9 today; how did I survive without her?

I have really only given one speech for Canine Companions for Independence, the first one. Ever since, I have just modified that one.

I am not embarrassed by this. It was a good speech. Puppy raisers afterward told me how good it was. Mom and Dad were there. A friend came. I even recently met a woman who told me the speech helped sell her on service dogs.

What does surprise me is how spot-on the speech was. Not to brag or anything.

I said that I loved Claren, but not really for the help she offers, even though it's a lot of help. And I demonstrated some of her commands, which have grown and improved. Last night, I dropped the remote and the battery cover popped off. Claren got off the couch when asked, went and got the battery cover, then the remote.

No, I said, I loved her because she is with me and a perfect partner. I never go through anything alone. She is there, sitting on me, pawing me, whatever.

I may never know why she is too cool to play catch with me or why she refuses to lie on the couch facing me -- I always get the butt --but I never knew what I was missing.

The Speech

Hi, my name is Matt Trott and Claren and I have been together about 2 ½ years.

I have a genetic disorder called Freidriech’s ataxia. It steals your balance and coordination, among other things. So I began using a wheelchair full time about seven years ago.

I can hardly put into words how much Claren has meant to me.

She will pick up anything I drop (DROP SOMETHING). Well, almost anything. She got a little too excited and bit through the last credit card she tried to pick up. She tugs drawers and doors open. She will get me a bottle of water from my fridge and go to a back room and turn on a light switch.

It is not always easy, but I can do most of the things Claren does. What I could not replace, though, is her companionship.

I live alone, and anyone who has lived alone knows that having someone else around is a huge blessing, even if that someone is a dog. For someone in a wheelchair, multiply that by a thousand. She is with me always. I know that if I fall or something bad happens, she will be there. That gives me untold amounts of strength and confidence.

I was reorganizing my computer stuff one day and was sitting on the floor under my computer desk. There were CDs and cords and boxes and junk all in front of the desk — not to mention my wheelchair. Well, my head was wiggling the top drawer and it came off its track and fell on me. It didn’t really hurt but it startled and angered me. While my mom helped get the drawer and its contents off me, Claren came and laid down next to me, really on me, because there was no room elsewhere. She was on CDs, too, probably not too comfy, but she did it. She seemed to just be saying, “I’m here. We’ll get through this.”

She doesn’t answer me, but she listens. She keeps me from becoming too self-involved, from worrying too much, from being too depressed. I can’t do any of this anymore because of Claren. And largely because of her, I don’t want to.


Anonymous said...

great speech.

Matt Trott said...

It is a good one, thanks

Anonymous said...

Why is that when they always give you the butt? Mine does that too... I'd really prefer petting his cute head. I guess they just always looking out for us?

Matt Trott said...

I am sure it is good in her eyes.

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