Archives for posts with tag: Megan Rose Taylor
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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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Ruby in her PAT gear credit Megan Taylor

** This post has been updated 1/27/2015

You may remember one of our favourite people Megan Taylor from the UK.  She faces challenges every day that most of us don’t.  She also has a heart of gold and makes it her ongoing mission in life to make other people’s lives just a bit better.  Well, everyone’s life better, including animals, people, pretty much the world.  And, she likes to have fun while doing it.  One of my favourite traits that Megan inspires me with is how she doesn’t judge, she just helps.  Because that’s what she does. A little while ago, Megan shared this story with some of her friends and she has kindly allowed me to repeat it here.

Last week when I was walking my dog I came across a man who kept beating his dog every time she pulled on the leash, making her pull even more to try and get away. He noticed the horrified expression on my face and asked how I get my dog to walk beside me instead of pulling. I told him that I am an animal behaviourist and that if he is prepared to listen I am prepared to teach him.

There is no need to beat or shout at your dog or use choke chains and shock collars, the key is love and a whole lot of patience. I told him about a few different methods he could try and he thanked me. All week I have been catching glimpses of him out my window using the methods I taught and today when I saw him, the dog was walking perfectly!

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Three years of attempting to train using violence failed, but one week of love succeeded. My first impression of him was that he was a horrible animal beater but it turns out it was down to simply not knowing any better. When I finish university I would love to set up a charity offering free training classes to those who cannot afford them.

Megan is also taking on yet another challenge with her best four legged friend Ruby who is a Pets As Therapy dog.  Megan trained Ruby herself and after Ruby’s certification they have been a kindness, happiness spreading duo.  As usual, Megan isn’t stopping there.  Ruby and Megan are climbing a mountain to raise funds for the PAT organization so they can make a positive difference in even more lives.  If you would like to support Megan, just click right here!

You can find out more about Megan and Ruby, what they are doing and why they are climbing by following the same link (or reading the updated information at the bottom of this blog).

So you see?  You can teach old dogs new tricks, humans too for the right matter.  Pretty sure that the owner and the dog are both happy they ran into Ruby and Megan that day.  I know Megan and Ruby are.  Me too, because it gave us another reason to feel like we’re rising like air.  And that’s pretty fantastic on a Monday morning.

** here is some more information about Megan and Ruby that you might find interesting. updated 1/27/2015

My name is Megan and I am 18. Most of you will know me by now and have been so supportive, I cannot thank you enough for your kindness! For those of you who don’t, I would like to share my story in the hope that you will find the courage to face your own demons, and to share with you all my latest challenge!

I have a medical condition that causes me to faint/fit/collapse/black out a lot (EVERY DAY). Because of this I fractured my skull and damaged my hearing, I suffer with balance problems and dizziness too. This all started when I was 15 and people instantly started treating me differently, doubting my abilities and feeling sorry for me. But in my opinion, a problem is only as big as you allow it to be!

I wanted to prove to myself and the world that disability is never a reason to give up. Sure, it makes things a lot harder, but that just means I have to fight harder too. Since fracturing my skull I have completed a half marathon, swam 8 kilometers, and climbed the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in just 24 hours. By doing this I have raised just over £3,000 for various charities.

I am currently completing my degree in Animal Behavior & Welfare, studying full time as well as holding down a part time job, running my own small business, and volunteering as a Cub Scout Leader and Pets As Therapy (PAT) visiting volunteer. Helping others allows me to overcome my condition, it reminds me to be grateful for everything I have and make the most of opportunities.

Every week I visit two nursing homes with my PAT dog, Ruby. She is loved by all who meet her and makes a big difference to their lives. People tell me that she is their best friend, their reason to smile. For many, we are the only ones who visit, and it means the world to them. PAT Dogs and cats visit people in nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, special needs schools and many other establishments.

Ruby helps me train for my fundraising challenges by keeping me fit and guiding me when I am too dizzy to see. This time she gets to come along for the whole ride and not just the training. In April we will be climbing Mount Snowdon together, this will be her first ever mountain climb! Please dig deep and support my lovely PAT dog who gives so much to so many and has helped me through the darkest of days. Remember, life is what you make of it! Thank you.

©2015 Rise Like Air  J. Fries

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A good friend of Rise Like Air is being her typical determined and charitable self.  She is going to climb a mountain, actually 3 mountains. In 24 hours.  And they aren’t beside each other either.  She’s convinced her  friend Izzie to join her.  Izzie, you’re a pretty special friend!

No, I’m not kidding.  If the name Megan Rose Taylor doesn’t sound familiar to you, you should check out a few of our previous blogs, like the one about falling down and getting back up, or then one about taking a different street, or the one about running a race even while fainting.

Well, this ball of energy who could easily put the Energizer Bunny out of business is ready to take on yet another challenge.   The National Three Peaks Challenge.   Yep, mountains.  Not for the faint of heart.  Well, I guess, actually in this case it is.  Best wishes Megan, it’s only 3 weeks away!   Thanks for sharing this with us.

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Megan and Jenny after the race courtesy Megan Rose Taylor

Here Megan shares a little more about their upcoming challenge.  I hope it inspires you to help her make a huge difference and attain an important personal goal by  meeting the challenge she has set for herself.

In November 2011, aged 15, I collapsed during a Scout remembrance day service. The impact of my fall caused my skull to fracture in three places. Now, almost three years after my accident, I am still facing the consequences.

The damage to my inner ear system has left me with many problems: hearing loss, poor balance, and constant dizziness. I have learnt to cope overtime and after intense physiotherapy my balance has shown a massive improvement. I now wear a hearing aid to help with my hearing loss and have also learnt how to lip read.

 Almost a year after my accident, after countless tests at various hospitals across the country, the cause of collapse was found to be a heart condition, Vasovagal Syncope with Ventricular Standstill. Results from my ‘tilt test’ showed that my blood pressure would dramatically decrease, followed by a 7-10 second pause in my heart rate, causing me to collapse.

 For unknown reasons I have continued to faint on a regular basis since my original accident. On an average day I will faint between 6-8 times. Other days can be much worse, or sometimes I wont faint at all, I like these days best!

 I have faced many challenges over the past three years whislt learning how to cope with my condition.

Whilst in hospital, the dizziness was so fast that I was unable to even sit up by myself. Thankfully overtime the spinning speed has decreased enough that I am able to ignore it to a certain extent, and carry on with daily activities, although I do occasionally walk into walls and door frames. It’s a good thing I can laugh at myself!

 One of the biggest challenges I have faced is how other people perceive me. On several occasions I have collapsed in the street and have been ignored, accused of being ‘another drunk teenager’. One time I woke up to find people actually stepping over me as I was in their way. I have also however witnessed some incredible acts of kindness that restore my faith in humanity.

 Despite fainting on and off during the exam period, I managed to complete my GCSE exams, achieving three A*, 3 A and 7 B grades. I am currently at Nescot College completing an Extended Diploma in Animal Management, and will be starting a degree in Animal Behavior and Welfare this September.

 I have so far achieved a distinction grade in every submitted assignment throughout my college course, I hope to achieve a triple distinction * as my final grade in June.

 As well as full time education I have two part time jobs, my own small business, and currently volunteer with four different organizations. This includes being a Young Leader with 1st Tolworth Scout Group, a group I have been part of since age 6.

 After my 18th birthday, I will finally be old enough to volunteer with my dog Ruby for the charity Pets As Therapy, making that five voluntary jobs!

 In October 2013, I took on a challenge and raised an amazing £1,368 for The National Deaf Children’s Society. I completed The Royal Parks Half Marathon, 21 kilometers, with my best friend, Jenny Seager, right by my side. I could not have done it without her.

 The further I run the dizzier I get, until eventually I cannot see. Jenny acted as a guide and we encouraged each other to keep moving forward. Although we were almost last to cross the finish line, we did it! And I had never felt so proud. For me that was the day I truly felt as though I could overcome any challenge that life throws at me.

 I am very lucky that each time I faint recovery is quick and spontaneous. This means that with a little determination; as long as I am not injured from falling, I am able to simply get back up, smile and continue.

 This is difficult for people to understand. Many feel that by continuing with life as normal; weather it be running, climbing, working or traveling, is dangerous and should not be done. I know what my limits are and how far to push them, what is safe for me and what is not.

 I would never put myself in a situation that I know I could not handle, or that would put myself or others at risk. It’s about common sense and realistic goals. For example; half marathon, not whole marathon… for now!

 Having a challenge to work towards helps me to stay positive and motivated, as well as giving me opportunity to help others. My next challenge will be the biggest and most difficult of my life so far.

In just three weeks time I will be climbing the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in just 24 hours, that is Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Mt Snowdon.

 I’d be lying if I said that my condition isn’t going to make this challenge tougher, but it doesn’t make it impossible. I will be completing the challenge just two days after my 18th birthday, with another great friend of mine, Izzie Rowe, who is also an Explorer Scout. We will be accompanied by a trained medic and mountain guide.

 The National Three Peaks Challenge is one of the toughest mountaineering challenges around. I am doing this in order to raise money for the charity Help for Heroes, who deliver an enduring national network of support for our wounded soldiers and their families.

 They inspire and enable those who have made sacrifices on our behalf to achieve their full potential. The war may be nearly over, but for those who have suffered life-changing injuries, their battles are just beginning. We will not let them fight these battles alone.

 I am incredibly grateful for every opportunity I have been given in life, and I am so thankful for everything I have and for all the great people in my life. Especially my parents, who give up so much time and energy for me, and who never stop worrying!

 Please support Izzie and me on our fundraising challenge by donating anything you can to our Just Giving page and spreading the word!

 You can also keep up to date with our adventure by liking us on Facebook. We will be posting pictures, videos and updates!

 Thank you for your support and never give up on your dreams!

 P.S. To all my Scouting brothers and sisters, remember this, a Scout has courage in all difficulty.

©2014 Megan Rose Taylor

 

©2014 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I am so excited to be able to share another poem written by Megan Rose Taylor.  Megan was featured in October in two of our blogs The Girl Who Fell Down And Kept Getting Up No Matter What and Journey To The Finish Line Results Are In.  Megan’s poetry is rich with imagery and emotion, and in this case, holds a message that is important for all of us to hear.  Megan shares what inspired her to write her poem “Today I Walked Down A Different Street”

A few weeks ago my friend had some flavored water at lunch time and someone pointed out that in other countries they don’t have flavored water. Now something is seriously wrong with that sentence. The fact that we thought of flavored water before normal water shows just how spoilt we are. We are so involved in our own lives that very rarely do we think about things on a larger scale.

I was on the bus home and I heard a young girl behind me complaining that her ‘Daddy’ bought her a second hand car instead of a new one. I was just sat thinking to myself what is wrong with us! How can people be so ungrateful. But it is easily done, we all complain if our house is too cold, too hot, we don’t have any clothes to wear except there is a whole wardrobe full. We are all guilty.

When I was volunteering at a local horse stables a girl complained that her pony didn’t win the competition and she screamed and cried shouting “daddy I want another pony princess didn’t win!” And that is just what ‘daddy’ did, a brand new horse arrived the next week and princess was moved to the rehoming center. It makes me sick when on the other side of the world our brothers and sisters are suffering, I mean real suffering. Dying just because they drank a glass of dirty water or because they were bitten by an insect. It is simply wrong.

I recently read Bear Grylls autobiography, Mud Sweat and Tears, which is an absolutely fantastic, inspirational, and moving book. He talks about when he was in Calcutta, India visiting the missionary of Mother Teresa. He tells us of some of the things he saw, people left to rot on the side of the road with missing limbs, starving children, and he explains the feelings of guilt and shame he felt walking down the road there.

This was the inspiration for my latest poem ‘Today I walked down a different street’. I hope my poem will encourage people to reflect on their lives and be grateful for what they have. In a world of pain and hunger it is important to remember the small things: love, hope and kindness.

Today I Walked Down A Different Street

We’re always told, to try and succeed,

we focus on money, we’re surrounded by greed.

We work and we fight, to get our lives right,

but somehow we seem to fail.

 

You may think you’re poor with your second hand car,

if you can’t buy more than one round at the bar.

But you live in a house, you have all that you need,

and still you want more you’re corrupted by greed.

 

Well try looking at it from a different situation. 

Where there are no homes there isn’t education. 

If this was your life, 

would you think it was right? 

 

There is no hospital but my mother is dying,

I can’t sleep at night as my children are crying. 

Crying from hunger, crying from pain.

I try to be strong but it’s always the same.

 

I walk down my street see a baby alone,

she was naked and cold just three weeks old. 

But I have no money, I have no home.

So I had to just leave her all on her own.

 

I keep on walking and I never look back.

Head over heart, because now it’s just black.

I get round the corner see an old man blind,

looking for hope that he simply can’t find.

 

I return home empty,

with nothing to give.

Nothing but love 

that’s the life that I live.

 

If you walked down that street 

would you feel ashamed?

Would you be embarrassed?

Would you hide from blame? 

 

We’re always told, to try and succeed,

we focus on money, we’re surrounded by greed.

We work and we fight, to get our lives right,

but somehow we seem to fail.

 

We fail because we’re self obsessed,

I think as a world we have really regressed. 

Surely by now we should each have rights,

to food and water, to peace not fights.

 

But to you my words are nothing,

just a simple drop of ink.

Like a raindrop splashed on paper,

you’d miss it in a blink.

 

What will it take to make us see?

Open your eyes and listen to me. 

Listen to the helpless as they wish on a star,

God hear our prayers this has gone too far.

 ©Megan Rose Taylor,  November 2013

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