I emphatically love dogs.  Going on walks with mine is often the highlight of my day.  Often times, though, walking dogs can be tiresome.  Especially when you have energetic dogs!  They tend to need more walks then I can give them in pushing strength through my manual wheelchair.

While down at my father’s over the long weekend I asked him if I could borrow the scooter. (He has kept one there for me to use around his property.). He was happy to lend it to me.  

That was the best idea!  Now Chancey and Grace get really good excercise.  On top of that; each dog (walked separately) gets some quality time to bond with me.  

If you have dogs, and have a disability, maybe you already have a scooter and walk your dogs often.  If not, I want to recommend you try it.  See if it revolutionizes your dog walks the way it has mine.  Until next time…


For those of you who have followed my blog, you’ll notice I have a new dog.   Yep,  that’s my Doberman Pinscher, named Grace.    

Some of you may be pondering the thought of a guy in a wheelchair owning a Doberman Pinscher.   I get that.  I mean…a small guy in a wheelchair walking a Doberman Pinscher on the square will attract some looks!  

On top of that I used to be terrified of dogs!  

So why a Doberman? 

1. Companionship. 

 Dobermans are one of the smartest breeds  in the world.  On top of being watch dogs,  they make excellent companions.  
2 . Activity

For those of us with Spina Bifida, I believe being active is so important.  I have fought kidney stones most of my adult life.  I believe,in part, due to inactivity.   

3. Purpose

Dogs in general give me purpose.   When I had to go on disability,  I had lost my sense of purpose.  For many years after, I remained in a depression.   I was bitter at everyone around me, too.   Then I met a dog trainer who taught me all about dogs.  

Til this day I continue to learn about dog behavior.  She helped me find my purpose.  Now I can help others understand their dogs.  love Chancey and Grace.  Having dogs has been the best thing to ever happen.  They gave me purpose.  Whether you have a disability, or not, having a purpose makes the biggest difference.  If you haven’t found yours; find someone who knows you well. Ask them to help you find it.  It’ll make a difference.  




One night as a teen my family and I, while on vacation, visited a park.  The park had lots of rides.  Many parks like this one allow for people in wheelchairs and their families/friends to go through the exits and get in front of the line.  As a young kid I felt like a king. But this particular night I felt like a tool.  

There was talk amongst the others about wanting to go on this roller coaster that turns upside down.  Some in my family wanted to go, including a friend of my sister’s.  When I would not go that friend tried to guilt trip me into going and was mad that I was steadfast. 

Later she apologized for trying to use my disability to get into the front of the ride.  

It is an honor for me to give people that extra privilege who are with me.  When my friends and I go to concerts, etc., I will often ask them if they want to ride with me so that we can park close.  But when I sense there is an alterior motive, that can be demeaning.  

Privilege? Most of the time, yes.  But sometimes I would just like to wait in line with the others at parks.   





Chancey is an extraordinary dog.   She knows how to bring anything.   She knows how to close the door when we enter the house (even without my asking).   She brings my shoes from the closet in the morning, and puts them back into the closet when I go to bed.  As a service dog, Chancey has the legal right, to enter anywhere the public is allowed; any store, shop, restaurant, hotel, or any mode of public transportation,etc., with me.   

Having a service dog gives me more independence as well as the confidence to live a more full life.   Truly a blessing!  If you see a service dog; remember, that dog is working and should not be touched.

 

 

The past few months someone has come over on a weekly basis and helped get confident in cooking.  This is one of the most difficult things I have had to overcome.  The confidence didn’t come easy.  Thankfully someone invested their time in me and helped me learn.  Today, I can make a very good meatloaf.  I can’t also make baked chicken, stuffed chicken (I stuff with roasted red peppers) I have learned to make cobblers several other foods.  

In the picture, I’m sitting on a stool which I bought today because the only thing I was missing in cooking was being able to use the stove.  I tried using a mirror. It was helpful to some degree, but I really wanted to get up to it.

Since I am cooking more, I have a lot more energy. Although this past week I have not felt like cooking because I have a UTI.   I started on antibiotics yesterday and today was already prepared to cook green beans.

I went from no confidence to great confidence in my cooking.  I’m very glad I didn’t let fear of cooking hold me back.  It truly has made a difference. 

Tonight I had a wonderful opportunity to play Power Chair Soccer.  It was the first time I had done this in a power chair.   It reminded me of being a kid playing wheelchair soccer, except back then we played in a non-motorized chair. 

Unfortunately the battery in the chair was almost out of juice, so they let me play for fun as a goalie in my regular wheelchair. 

At one point, while in my regular wheelchair I started heading for the ball that was coming toward the goal.  Another guy was headed in my direction trying to get the ball too.   We hit the ball simultaneously, and my back tires went up in the air.  It was hilarious! 

All in all, it was a fantastic evening and I look forward to more opportunities in the future. 

Since I don’t have a picture of me playing, I decided to use a picture of my dog.

Above is one of hundreds of photos I have taken the past few years.  I got into photography as a way to take my mind off of a broken heart.   During those days I spent hours upon hours trying to get the perfect shot.  

Here’s a silhouette photo of a cardinal.  I was amazed after I took it. It looked like the cardinal was praying!

Praying Cardinal on a Limb

Chancey, my dog, makes for good opportunities, too.  I tried this composition of one of my former wheelchairs with Chancey lying beside it. 

Chancey by chair black and white

Black and Whites are my favorite pictures to take.  I guess perhaps I’m a little nostalgic. 

If you follow my blog, you’ll recognize this one. I took this, too.  I used the old wheelchair above as my tripod. I asked Chancey to go sit in the spot while I setup the camera shot, setting it on automatic, I quickly rolled up to sit beside my dog.  I was proud of this one, especially.

cropped-cropped-p1010174

I use a Panasonic Lumix 1000 with a Leica Lens. 

From the earliest moments in my childhood I was taught to never stare at other people because it was rude.  Here’s the catch; I got stared at a lot!  With the stares came uncomfortable questions: “Why are you so little?” 

Of course that led to a sense of insecurity.   Between my secondary issues I faced mostly as a kid, and all the stares, sometimes going to school was not so much fun.

Today, people still stare at me.  Especially little kids.  For me, it’s interesting to watch the parent’s response.   The parent’s are often put in a very uncomfortable place.

How one mom changed my thinking.

I was shopping for groceries one day when a mom came up to me and asked if her child could approach me to ask a couple of questions.

Naturally, I wasn’t going to turn and roll away.  The child wanted to know why I was in a wheelchair and why I was so small.

I could see that this child wasn’t staring at me just because I looked differently.  This child was staring out of curiosity. 

I don’t remember how I answered, but I do remember thanking the mom for allowing her child to learn something about me and from me. 

While staring is viewed as rude to the general public, I have learned that staring can be valuable if it honors the person of whom is being stared. 

To any parent who faces this awkward moment, I would encourage you to go up to the person in a wheelchair and simply ask if they can speak to your child.  

If you’re the person in a wheelchair, I hope you will take the time speak to a curious child who wants to ask uncomfortable questions. 

I believe the more we are educated about one another, no matter whether it involves a disability or not, the highest walls can be torn down and we’ll have the opportunity to see each other as people created in the image of God. 

I thoroughly enjoy a road trip.  There was the time when my family and I got into a camper and drove up the Eastern states.   One of the funniest things happened on this trip.  We were all so stressed because two of the kids were constantly arguing.   Apparently that stress really got to me by the time we hit up state New York.

We were 45 minutes up the road headed toward Canada when my step mom looks back and asks, “Trey, where’s your chair?”  Yep. I had forgotten to ask someone to put my wheelchair in the camper.  We drove 45 minutes back to the restaurant and my wheelchair was sitting in the parking lot where I had climbed in. 

I have a good bit of experience in airplane travel, too. My late cousin and I traveled to see my mom and step dad while they were living in Italy.  They lived so far north that we were able to enjoy a meal in Italy, France, and Switzerland, in the same day.  I loved crossing the different cultures. 

My grandfather flew the company plane when he worked.  I remember times when he would let me fly the plane once he got it in the air.  Exhilarating!  I’ve also traveled commercially, too. One of the perks I get when flying alone is that someone is always waiting to help me get through the airport to catch a connecting flight. 

The most difficult part of traveling for me was when I took my first solo road trip in my car.  I was filled with anxiety.  But I remember when I crossed the Lake Hartwell Bridge, my first trip in the car alone, out of my state.  Once I got over the bridge, I felt like I had “made it” It was like a rite of passage for me.   As a kid crossing that bridge with my family, I had always looked forward to the day I could do it myself.

I am so thankful for the airlines and how efficient they are in helping people in wheelchairs.  

Tonight, even, my sister and I have talked about taking a trip with her family to Alaska in 2017.   That’s a place I have always wanted to visit.    More to come on that in the future!

As a person in a wheelchair, I take independence very seriously.  For me, the more independence leads to more confidence, which leads to more freedom.  

Achieving independence for me has no doubt been a team effort.  Whether it’s helping me up a flight of stairs, teaching me how to cook, or helping me get out of my comfort zone, if you’ve had any part whatsoever in this, I want to say, “Thank You!” 

 

Recently I was reading on the internet about the struggles some parents have when they found out their baby would be born with Spina Bifida.

Their shared concern was the  baby’s quality of life.   

It got me thinking about my own journey as a person with Spina Bifida.   

I was born with a more severe form of Spina Bifida.  I have a shunt that drains excess fluid from my brain because of hydrocephelus which is common among babies born with my severity of Spina Bifida.   I am paralyzed from the waist down.  I have used a wheelchair since I was a very young child.   

Although I have had many health issues throughout my life,  I would have to say that I have always had a good quality of life.  I was involved in sports early on.  I taught myself to swim at the age of 7, to walk on my hands at age 5,  On my own I learned the skill of ventiloquism.    

Many of us with Spina Bifida are even able to have our own families.  I never got around to marriage, though.  

I have my own home and vehicle.  I have learned how to cook and do laundry.  

I’m an amateur musician and have played in my church band.  As well, I write and compose my own songs.

While I have definitely had struggles throughout my life, one thing remains true, I have accomplished so much in my 48 years.  Thanks to family and friends I have a good social life. 

One of the greatest joys I have is owning a dog.  And soon two.  

Wow!  I just have to thank God for the many blessings He has given me.  It is because of God I have overcome so many trials.  Yes, based on my own journey, I believe a person with Spina Bifida can have a good quality of life.  Below is a video of me walking dogs.