Extra Dosage | Puppies and Parkinson’s
This is a special bonus episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s which we are calling “Extra Dosage.” Full episodes will be release every other Wednesday. In between, Niki and I will share new information, original interviews and extra material that provide more context to topics raised in the previous episodes of the podcast. We’ll also answer your questions. Feel free to write us with questions at [email protected].
It’s been nearly six years since our family lost our beloved beagle Pepperjack. Rebecca and Henry have been pining for a dog for years. Unfortunately, we tend to rent homes that have strict no pet policies. To our surprise and delight, our current landlord recently had a change of heart and suddenly was amenable to a small dog. The excitement in the Gifford house was palpable. For once, the trembling and shaking was coming from them and not me.
With the green light to get a pup, the hunt was on. Rebecca was the General of “Operation Puppy Procurement.” Phones calls were made, emails written, DMs and texts were sent into the ether. Within 48 hours we went from dog less to dog obsessed. We traveled 45 minutes to a chicken farm where we fell in love with a small, adorable, 8 week old puppy. She was a Cavalier, Pug, French Bulldog, and Boston Terrier mix. By the time we arrived home, we had named her Luna Love Gifford (an homage to a favourite Harry Potter character), spent hundreds of dollars at the pet store, and our cheeks were sore from smiling so much.
Puppies are tough. We knew that. We were ready for it. We warned our 9-year old son. We’d done this before and knew it was hard work.
I didn’t have Parkinson’s when we adopted Pepperjack. The disease challenges my walking and balance, increases anxiety, makes it difficult to sleep, and symptoms only intensify with stress. A five pound puppy with boundless energy, racing around my feet, needing to go outside throughout the night also challenges walking and balance, increases anxiety, makes it difficult to sleep and frankly, stressed me out.
After two weeks, Rebecca and I looked at each other one evening and we both knew we had rushed into puppy parenthood without proper consideration of the other new member of our family: Parkinson’s. Through tears of sadness and waves of embarrassment, we quickly found Luna a new forever home. It was a wake-up call that Parkinson’s plays a part in every decision we make. And will for the rest of our lives.
In this Extra Dosage episode, Niki Reitmayer invites Rebecca and I into the studio to talk about our puppy predicament and the lessons we learned
If you have a comment or question about the podcast, you can email us: [email protected]
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Thank you to my wife Rebecca Gifford and to Luna Love Gifford wherever you are.
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Dila Velazquez – Story Producer
Rob Johnston – Senior Audio Producer