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Blog Title: What I Learn About Living From My Chronic Illness by Shelley Peterman Schwarz
Chronic illness changes every aspect of your life. In my blog, I reflect on my 30+ year journey living with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). I share thoughts, insights, and lessons learned that hopefully will help you or someone you know. - Shelley
By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wisconsin State Journal newspaper logoWe recently lost a beloved and important family member -- “our" dog Chueco (pronounced “Schway-Ko”; Spanish for “a little off kilter.”)  As often happens when we lose someone we love, we find comfort in remembering the good times. One of my favorite memories of Chueco was the time I took him to a “pet psychic.”  After all, haven’t you ever said, “I wonder what my pet is thinking?"  I thought maybe going to see a pet psychic would be a chance for me to find out what Chueco was thinking.

 

I probably should explain that I'm not really a pet lover.  I’ve never had a dog, cat, bird or fish of my own.  Chueco wasn’t even my dog.  When I took him to the pet psychic, Chueco really belonged to my 27 year-old son, Andrew who adopted Chueco four years earlier when Andrew was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. Chueco was a mutt-puppy; a mixture of who-knows-what who was trying to find his way in the world.  My son and Chueco bonded heart and soul; both depended on the other for survival.  I credit Chueco with keeping my son company in his remote and isolated village where he lived for more than two years.  It was a difficult time for my son, made easier by this easy going, wonderful, loyal, dog.

 

So what did the psychic say?  At first, I thought her words were pretty general and could have applied to anyone’s animal.  But upon further scrutiny, well… you be the judge.  The psychic’s words are in italics.

 

Chueco knows he’s on vacation with you. (This was true. Chueco was temporarily staying with my husband Dave and me. After the Peace Corps, Andrew left Chueco with us for 6 months while he backpacked through South America.)

 

He likes you alright but he thinks your foods and the smells in your house are very strange. Considering I told her that Chueco was from the Dominican Republic, this was not what one would consider “psychic information.” However, my husband and I cook interesting meals and my husband was always putting drippings and scraps into Chueco’s bowl “to make his dog food more interesting.”   These scraps included leftover curried chicken, wild rice with saffron, vegetables and tofu with Thai peanut sauce, red cabbage with apples and wine, etc., These were regular fare in Chueco’s bowl.

 

Another psychic observation: Your son and Chueco have a strong bond and he really misses your son. Chueco is saying, “Enough already. It’s time for Andrew to come home NOW!” 

 

Andrew had been gone for 3½ months and was scheduled to return in a few months so the psychic’s words did not make much of an impression – until I got home. When I open up my E-mail, the first message was from Andrew.  He was cutting his trip short and coming home 2 months early! He missed Chueco!  It hit me as a little eerie especially after the psychic's words earlier in the day.

 

However, the best part of the psychic’s visit was that Chueco and I got closer.  I know it sounds funny, but it was true.  Chueco has always been a “guy’s dog," responding more to Dave than to me. Chueco rarely paid attention to women.  In fact, he could be rather haughty and distant where women were concerned.  Whenever I tried to approach Chueco in my three wheeled scooter wheelchair, he always moved away and out of my reach.  Yet after the visit to the psychic, Chueco let me pet him and scratch his back. He even found a place in my office where he could lie during the work day and be close to me.  There was a complete change in our relationship. He became my dog, too, not just Dave’s.

 

Do I think the psychic really talked to or for Chueco? Who knows? But you have to admit it’s a fun story and a cute memory of a wonderful dog.  Rest in Peace, Chueco.

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Thursday, February 07, 2013

Snoopy the dog

When my girlfriend's dog needed medication for an ear infection, she thought she'd save a few dollars by having the prescription filled at a discount pharmacy in her neighborhood. 

 

The pharmacist took the prescription and told her it would take about 20 minutes to fill.  Instead of waiting at the counter, my friend used the time to go around the store to pick up other needed items.  Not longer than five minutes had passed, when she heard...

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Friday, July 13, 2012

Don't miss out on playing fetch with Rover if you have limited strength or range of motion. Chuckit!® and Chuckit! Jr.® allow you to throw a standard-size tennis ball without having to bend down and pick up the ball. Made of lightweight and durable plastic, the Chuckit!® has a "claw" at one end that allows you to pickup the ball without bending or straining your back to reach it. 

     The Chuckit!® fetch toy

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Sunday, April 01, 2012

Our family has never had a pet. However, that changed several years ago when our son, Andrew, returned from the Peace Corps and brought home “his dog,” Chueco was a mutt Andrew adopted shortly after he arrived in the Dominican Republic. Chueco was sick and undernourished and would not have survived another month on the streets of Santo Domingo if Andrew hadn’t adopted him.

 

As our son began the gargantuan two-year task of building an aqueduct to bring clean water to a poverty stricken village of 500, twenty miles from the Haitian border, Chueco was his companion and lifeline. Because of Chueco, Andrew was able to withstand the loneliness...

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