If ever I’ve needed to cash in afavor with you, I’m calling it in today. If I’ve ever had any small influence on you at all, please read and take action.
Over the past couple days, I’ve seen articles about Palm, a guide dog, and her handler Iris, who were involved in a serious, devastating accident. Apparently, Palm was pushed off a commuter train in British Columbia. An automated commuter train that had no emergency stop. The doors closed on her leash, and Palm was dragged along by the train, until she hit a post and her leash snapped. She is now facing recovery and surgery for a broken muzzle, broken ribs, a punctured lung, and no doubt other injuries. The estimate I read puts the vet bill at around $15,000.
You can read more about the accident here:
And you can see the details of some of Palm’s surgery here:
I can only imagine what this must be like for Iris and for Palm, and it brings me nearly to tears.
As a guide dog handler myself, now working my third one, I know firsthand what these dogs bring to our lives. When they hurt, you hurt with them. It’s no exaggeration to say that there are few, if any, relationships between two beings that are any closer than the one shared between a person and his or her service dog. Over time, as my dogs and I have gotten to know each other, we have learned to read each other’s moods, not only to work together seamlessly, but these dogs really do become a part of you. They aren’t just a “mobility aid”, much as they are that. They aren’t our children either, though, and i don’t really want to sensationalize the relationship or make it something it is not. One thing it is, though, is complex. My dogs aren’t “my best friend”, but neither are they “disposable”. They are a part of me, but they are not me. A friend of mine once said, upon the retirement of my first dog Karl, that harnessing my dog and working with him must be as natural to me as putting on my shoes. And so it is, but it isn’t that either exactly. Guide dog handlers know exactly what I mean, and those who are not have an idea perhaps, but it really is hard to explain. For fans of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, (and this probably comes as close to the thing as anything else), working a guide dog is probably about as close as we will ever get to Impression.
But knowing this relationship as I do, I know Iris is just beside herself. Let me be blunt. I’m asking you to give to Palm’s recovery fund. Anything you can. As much or as little as you are able. I know that people are saying, “Well, Translink should pay.” And so they should. In an ideal world, they would have paid already, and Palm’s vet bills would be of no concern. But you know as well as I do how government bureaucracies work. You know that, even if they agree to pay her bills, that won’t come about for ages and ages, and that’s assuming they don’t figure out a way to weasel out of it and deny any culpability. And in the meantime, Iris still has vet bills, and Palm still needs vet care. So, again being very blunt, quit waiting for someone else to do the right thing and take responsibility. Step up to the plate and do somebody a kindness. We can’t take responsibility for the whole world, but we can make a difference in small parts of it. Those small parts add up to making a big difference. It’s like the story of the little boy throwing starfish back in the ocean. When someone told him that there were too many, and he wasn’t going to make a difference, he said, “I made a difference to that one”, and threw another one back in.
Unfortunately, they don’t have an online donation page, so please exercise your dialing finger.
Just tell them when they answer the phone (between 7 AM and 8:30 PM Pacific time) that you want to contribute to Palm’s recovery fund. They will take your credit card information and send you a receipt if you want one. It probably took me three minutes to do this, and I talked about my dogs and my feelings about this. If you don’t feel the need to jabber as I did, it will take you less.
So that’s it, really. I’m asking you to do something for a complete stranger. And, i thank you from the bottom of my heart.