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photo courtesy of Megan and Ruby

Megan Rose Taylor is one of our favourite people. Her smile is infectious. Her determination is inspiring. Her candour is refreshing and her resilience is motivational.

One moment Megan was living life like any 15 year old and the next she was a teenager learning to live with a head injury that caused her to faint up to 50 times a day, without warning. That tends to change life just a wee bit.

Megan began the process of learning how to balance risk with simply living. It impacted everything, school, work, shopping, simply taking a walk or catching the underground (subway) became an exercise in managing risk and trusting complete strangers to help or protect her when she would unexpectedly collapse anywhere at any time.

Of course there were the kind people who did their best to assist. And then there were the “others”, those that walked by or even worse spat at her or judged her to be an addict or intoxicated without bothering to stop and see (and I have to ask, even if that were the case, why would you not stop and help?! A topic for another time). Her parents and friends were concerned, but Megan refused to be treated like some china doll.

Enter Ruby. The puppy that started out as a “simple companion” has become so much more. Megan shares how Ruby has become her companion to achieve independence again. My mother seems to be right when she says sometimes the greatest gifts come in small packages.

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photo courtesy of Megan and Ruby

When I reached for a hand, I found your paw.

The little dog who changed my life forever.

My name is Megan and I am 21 years old. I first met the dog who would go on to change my life forever back in 2010, whilst visiting the Snowdonia National Park with my family.

We stayed in the guest house on a working farm. It didn’t take me long to make friends with the resident sheep dog, Bonnie, and her litter of 8 week old puppies. We were never planning on getting a dog, but found ourselves coming home with a beautiful Border Collie / Kelpie puppy, who we later named Ruby.

We had no idea back then just how important this tiny pup would become, when a year later I would suffer a severe head injury, and be left with a permanent disability.

After fainting during a Remembrance Sunday parade in 2011, I hit my head on the curb behind me and my skull was fractured in three places. Five years since this accident I now suffer with a number of cardiac, neurological, and vestibular disabilities. This causes me to: faint on a regular basis, lose my balance, have frequent dizzy spells, episodic blindness, and unilateral profound hearing loss.

Ruby, was just 1 year old at the time of my accident, and was a great comfort to me in the recovery process. She was calm, gentle, and never failed to make me smile; even though I was in immense pain.

After realising just how much comfort and strength she gave me with her presence alone, I decided to become a volunteer with Pets As Therapy so that Ruby could help others in need too.

I had to wait until my 18th birthday to become a volunteer due to the age restrictions, and Ruby was four years old when I was finally old enough! We began visiting a local nursing home immediately after my 18th birthday, bringing joy and friendship to hundreds of people.

Ruby and I still enjoy our visits today, and have been volunteering for three years now. As well as spreading joy in our local community, Ruby also has a brand new job as my disability Assistance Dog. She helps me to do things that are difficult or unsafe because of my medical conditions.

In March 2016, Ruby and I were accepted as clients with Dog A.I.D (Assistance In Disability). Dog A.I.D are a unique UK charity, who with the help of volunteer trainers, enable adults with disabilities to train their own pet dogs, of any breed or cross, into registered Assistance Dogs.

Ruby joined the scheme aged 5, so already had a good understanding of basic obedience. She completed her training in just 13 months, qualifying as my Assistance Dog on the 19th April 2017.

Ruby has halved the amount of dizzy spells I have, by learning to pick things up for me and untie my shoe laces; so that I no longer need to bend down. Thanks to Ruby, I no longer risk fainting into oncoming traffic when waiting to cross the road as I am able to stay back whilst she presses the crossing button for me with her nose.

Ruby has also learnt how to use her very own ‘K9 phone’ to call for help when I have fainted; a potentially life-saving action!

She activates the phone by pressing a button worn on my wrist with her nose. Once activated, a text message is sent to my emergency contacts with my current GPS location.

A voice alarm is also triggered on my phone, to reassure concerned members of the public. This alarm makes it very clear that I have a genuine medical condition, and am not just ‘another drunk teenager!’ as I am sadly often mistaken for.

If my emergency contacts do not hear back from me within 5 minutes of receiving the alert, this means I am still unconscious or injured, and they are able to send help to my location immediately. Ruby is able to answer the front door for me when paramedics arrive.

Previously, if I were to injure myself at home it may be several hours until anyone found me. Thanks to Ruby, I am reassured knowing that help will always come when I need it. I am finally safe in my own home.

Anyone who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is clearly mistaken!

Ruby amazes and inspires me every single day. To learn all of that in just 13 months at the age of 5 is truly remarkable. Anyone who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is clearly mistaken!

As well as keeping me safe and spreading joy in our local community, Ruby and I spend a lot of time having fun together. We love going for long walks, and hiking in the British countryside. As well as learning fun new tricks, and playing agility in our garden.

With Ruby by my side I am proud. I am independent. And I am not ashamed of my disability anymore.

Ruby gives me a reason and a purpose to get up each day, and live life to the fullest. With Ruby by my side I have climbed mountains. I have graduated from university. And I have learnt that it’s okay to ask for help.

With Ruby by my side I am proud. I am independent. And I am not ashamed of my disability anymore.

I believe that her outstanding acts of devotion truly embody the contribution that animals make to peoples’ lives. I am forever thankful to have Ruby in my life, the little sheepdog from Wales.

Megan Rose Taylor ©2017

Take a moment to share a bit of a day with Ruby and Megan in the video below

Assistance and Service animals are unsung heroes – they are trained working dogs doing a very important job – they give the gift of independence at an otherwise unattainable level. And they give that gift unconditionally with love and kindness everyday all day.

So make sure you check out Ruby’s FB page because in truth, we’ve barely touched the surface.  We can’t leave out her K9 parkour skills, her talent for abstract painting and her educational contributions. Here is a link to a video Megan has done to help explain the misconceptions about assistance dogs and their roles in the lives of their people.

And please remember, when you see an Assistance or Service animal at work, let them work and treat their people with kindness and respect you’d appreciate too.

 

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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This is a really to the point blog. Too many people are surrounded with toxic people in their lives but don’t recognize it and instead believe the story and actually make excuses for them instead of distancing or removing themselves from the toxicity. Ah we humans are truly an interesting bunch, far too willing to allow ourselves to be slowly poisoned it would seem. Spoiler alert: Never too late to change, never too late to heal, never too late to choose.
“When the music changes, so does the dance.” – African Proverb

Source: Beware the Signs of Toxic People in Your Life

 

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Absolutely beautiful blog written from one of our favourite bloggers Soumyaj at Quirrk

It’s an odd thing, being prepared for a certain kind of pain.

 

Resilience

Endurance

Life lessons

Wise words

 

Source: The two kinds of pain

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Words of wisdom for all of us from a friend and guest blogger Khurram Shahzad.

 

Hello Everyone!
First of all I’m not a first language English speaker so please forgive any grammatical or spelling mistake.
I would just like to take a minute and talk on the topic of “opportunities”.
Opportunities are our chances at life. In our life we set a goal and we pursue those goals and these opportunities are our chances to finally get our reward.
And believe me, as i speak from personal experience, opportunities are very rare so never ever let them slip by. Whenever they knock, get up and take them because you never know if you will get another. Life is full of twists and turns and you never know which breath might be your last. 

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So go out there, live your life like it was your last day. Make the most of it. Don’t ever turn away thinking that what will others think because believe me this is your life and you should only care what you think. 


Psychology says that the biggest regret of people on their death beds is not what they did, it’s what they didn’t do. 

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So my point being that please live life to the fullest. If you like someone, go tell them. If you have a dream job, go get it. Don’t EVER give up on your dream. When I was 9 i think I once interviewed a doctor for a project and she told me that perseverance commands success so I should never give up on what I believe in. 

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Thank you for taking the time to read this, i just felt like sharing this thought with someone. Have a blessed day!

 

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Photo credit: Leah Fries Qu'Appelle Water Tower A beacon that points home

Photo credit: Leah Fries
Qu’Appelle Water Tower
A beacon that points home

Our guest contributor is Leah Fries, a recent high school graduate who is excited to embark on all the adventures that make up life. She is a writer, artist and dreamer who possesses a quick wit and a kind soul. Her essay The Spirit of Qu’Appelle was selected as a winner of the 2014-2015 Qu’Appelle Spirit Award. I’m glad I get to be her aunt.

Being a grown up isn’t as fun as it was growing up, and I’m glad I got to do that here. Leah Fries

Leah has managed to capture life growing up in a small town. The beauty, the angst, the humour and the special spirit you come to recognize living there. As a young adult what once may have seemed scary now provides the beacon pointing the way home.

The Spirit of Qu’Appelle

LEAH FRIES

There’s a reason small towns are small – because not a lot of people want to live in them. To many people, Qu’Appelle must seem like a place that isn’t important. People drive through every day on the 35 and they keep going. They don’t stop and they don’t come back. But for people like me, people that have lived here, we will never know that feeling of being able to leave this place. Maybe physically we’ll leave, but we can never really leave this town because this town will never leave us, no matter how far we go. This is a place that someone might not want to live in at first glance, and maybe not even after the second or third, but given a chance I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up anywhere else. I haven’t lived in Qu’Appelle as long as a lot of people. Even people my age have lived here longer than me. I moved here with my family in the fall of 1999. I was 2 and a half years old. Now I am 18, and almost a high school graduate. Being a grown up isn’t as fun as it was growing up, and I’m glad I got to do that here. I’ve made a lot of memories, and I’ve learned a lot.

One of the first things I think of when I think of Qu’Appelle is the water tower. I was always scared of it when I was little; scared it would fall over and crush my house and flood the town. Yet whenever my family would be driving toward home at night on the highway, seeing that tiny blinking red light was always a source of comfort. It was always there, steady and consistent and always pointing the way home.

Going to school at James Hamblin School. For me, it was the absolute best experience. Unlike many others in my grade, I stayed at JHS until I was finished grade 9. I’d be lying if I said I never considered leaving early, which is why I don’t blame my friends that pursued their education somewhere else in grade 9. I wish they hadn’t done that though. They could have benefitted from the lesson we learned by staying: take pride in your community because it’s part of who you are. I learned about empathy there, and about respect and voice and kindness and how important all these things are. I am lucky enough to have gotten that lesson, and can thank James Hamblin School for nurturing me and pushing me to be who I am today. I will carry what I learned there with me always.

The spirit of this town can’t be summarized with descriptions and anecdotes. There is an underlying spirit here, and it is in everything we do. I feel it when I walk into a public building and I’m greeted by name. The spirit of the town is in the wind that breezes through the banners and flower baskets that hang on Main Street in the warmer seasons, and the Christmas decorations that sparkle in the winter. I feel it when I volunteer at the tourist booth every summer and I read our town’s proud history book. I see it when I look at our huge old town hall, its majestic appearance earning it the nickname Prairie Castle by my friends and myself. So many Summer Reading Programs and various other activities were spent there and not just by my friends and me, but many generations before us.

The spirit of Qu’Appelle is in our amazing Chinese restaurant, because like all small towns, we have a Chinese restaurant, and like all small town people, we know ours is the best.

I hold the spirit of this town every time I tell someone from Indian Head that they can say whatever they want about Qu’Appelle, at least we have an underpass. Maybe most critical, I can feel the spirit of Qu’Appelle when I visit our small cemetery with trees so tall they’re practically scraping the floors of heaven where our loved ones look down from.

The spirit of this town is alive and vibrant and I see it every day, in the small but important things that make this town what it is.

In the fall, I will be making the move to Edmonton. As author Robert Penn Warren wrote, “For west is where we all plan to go someday.” I grew up here, love it here, and learned a lot, but my time here is done. With the knowledge I gained here, I can spread my wings, and still carry the spirit of Qu’Appelle with me. I don`t know what my future will hold, but I do know that no matter where I go in life, no matter where I go from here, if I hear something calling me, I’ll know what it is and I’ll know it’s time to follow that blinking red light home again.

©2014,2015 Leah Fries

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Leah Fries

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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