November 28, 2018 10:00 am
Updated: November 28, 2018 10:44 am

Extra Dosage recap: puppies and Parkinson’s

Luna Love Gifford.

Larry Gifford
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This is a special bonus episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s called Extra Dosage. Full episodes will be released every other Wednesday. In between, hosts Niki Reitmayer and Larry Gifford will share new information, original interviews and extra material that provide more context to topics raised in the previous episodes of the podcast. They’ll also answer your questions. Feel free to write us with questions at parkinsonspod@curiouscast.ca.

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It’s been nearly six years since my 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.

READ MORE: The Parkinson’s diagnosis: constant companion and frenemy

With the green light to get a pup, the hunt was on. Rebecca was the general of “Operation Puppy Procurement.” Phone calls were made, emails written, DMs and texts sent into the ether. Within 48 hours, we went from dog-less to dog obsessed. We travelled 45 minutes to a chicken farm, where we fell in love with a small, adorable, eight-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 — and spent hundreds of dollars at the pet store. Our cheeks were sore from smiling so much.

Puppies are tough. We knew that. We were ready for it. We warned our nine-year-old son. We’d done this before and knew it was hard work.

But…

I didn’t have Parkinson’s when we adopted Pepperjack. The disease challenges my walking and balance, increases anxiety and makes it difficult to sleep, and those symptoms only intensify with stress. A five-pound puppy with boundless energy racing around my feet and needing to go outside throughout the night also challenges walking and balance, increases anxiety, makes it difficult to sleep and, frankly, stressed me out.

READ MORE: When Life Gives You Parkinson’s: The Search for Sleep — A Virgin Voyage with Cannabis Oil

After two weeks, Rebecca and I looked at each other, 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 at parkinsonspod@curiouscast.ca.

Follow me, Larry Gifford 

Twitter: @ParkinsonsPod

Facebook: Facebook.com/ParkinsonsPod

Instagram: @parkinsonspod

Follow co-host and producer Niki Reitmayer

Twitter: @Niki_Reitmayer

Thank you to my wife, Rebecca Gifford, and to Luna Love Gifford, wherever you are.

For more info on our partner Parkinson Canada, head to http://www.parkinson.ca/.

The toll-free hotline 1-800-565-3000

Or follow them on Twitter

Parkinson Canada            @ParkinsonCanada

Parkinson Society BC      @ParkinsonsBC

Credits

Dila Velazquez — Story Producer

Rob Johnston — Senior Audio Producer

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