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Crippled collie?

Gladys and me, circa 1989, Winston-Salem, NC. Photo by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard

I don’t think I’ve ever explained on this blog the meaning of my domain name,

There once was a crippled collie. Her name was Gladys. She was born, as I recall, in 1981. She was active, athletic, extremely sweet, and not the smartest collie in the world (though she became quite wise in her old age). When she was 8 years old, she had a stroke. I came home from work one day to find her moving with great difficulty. Her eyes wandered in different directions. Her pupils were different sizes. We rushed to the vet. The vet quickly diagnosed a stroke and administered heavy doses of intravenous cortisone. Still, within hours, Gladys turned into a vegetable. She was paralyzed. All four legs were useless. She could only lie on her side and watch me with her now-strange eyes.

On follow-up visits to the vet, my vet and I discussed the options. The vet pointed out that Gladys was not in pain, that she was strong-willed and surprisingly happy, and that Gladys was very attached to me and trusted me very, very much. The vet said that, if I was willing to take care of a paralyzed dog, that there was a chance that Gladys’ condition might gradually improve.

That’s what we did. Very slowly, over a period of weeks and months, Gladys regained control of her legs. Eventually she was able to stand. Then she started hobbling. And eventually she started walking again. Still, for the rest of her life, she walked with a limp. She dragged her right hind leg. When she walked, her feet on the floor made a strange sound — click click scratch, click click scratch, click click scratch. When I moved to San Francisco, Gladys went with me. She spent her last few years in my apartment across from Buena Vista Park in Haight-Ashbury. She loved Buena Vista Park. She could click-click-scratch her way to the top of the park without any trouble. I used to call her the Crippled Collie of Haight Street (which also is the working title of my memoir-in-progress). She knew Haight Street quite well. Especially she knew the location of the bagel store, and she would take us straight there if I asked her if she wanted a bagel.

Gladys died a natural death at the age of 13. Gavin and I were with her. She is buried on the Point Reyes Peninsula, near Inverness, California.

One Comment

  1. mountain madness wrote:

    That’s the best story!!! I thought maybe you resuced crippled collies and that was where the name came from… My Ex- husband is working with puppies for the blind and getting them use to being in public places likes stores, cafes, banks…. He has them on the weekend and men in jail have them during the week training them as part of a work program. The one part of training of course the men in jail cannot do is train the puppies in the general public. Just another way to contribute…. Thanks for such a heart felt story!!!! Love the pie by the way!! Lattice work and all!!! Still looked mighty good!!!

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

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