QuickPress: Funny Dog & Resources for Learning about MCS

A quick training anecdote from yesterday:

I was working on “plate zen” with Barnum, which means I’m trying to teach him that all plates, bowls, and mugs are out-of-bounds for dogs. I am trying to teach this as a default behavior, which means I don’t want to have to say, “Leave it,” 80 times per meal. I want him to just know to leave all plates alone.

I used different plates, sometimes with a piece of food on them, sometimes empty. Sometimes I’d put them up to his nose, and sometimes I’d hold them in my lap. Barnum needs to have all the fine points explained to him. He apparently realizes that he’s a dog, and that therefore he doesn’t generalize well. (Gadget hadn’t read the book on dogs not generalizing well, so I used to think it was a load of hooey.)

Anyway, I switched back from a blue plate (yes, it was the blue plate special — thanks for asking) and put a clear glass plate in my lap. I waited to see if Barnum would back up.

Barnum waited to see if I would give him some clue as to what to do. I didn’t, so Barnum offered, “Chin,” and rested his chin on the plate in my lap. Then, like the gifted and serious-minded dog trainer I am, I fell out laughing.

It was so adorable: “Here, would you like me to put my big slobbery beard on this plate? Look, I’m really resting my whole head on the plate. Will you click me now?”

Barnum backed up in confusion when I started to guffaw. Having learned my lesson, we tried again. Barnum rested his head on the plate again. I burst into laughter again. Poor dog. We did eventually actually get to some real training, and he earned some clicks and treats.

I am very behind on emails and comments. I’ve been super sick for the past two weeks. I sent out a mass email telling people to please be patient, but there is a problem with my email, and I’m not getting all of them! So, I know at least one person didn’t get that.

Anyway, I am not apologizing, but I am explaining.

Readers have requested I write on certain topics. In many cases, I have written partial blogs in reply, but I haven’t finished them. In other cases, I feel so overwhelmed, I don’t know how to begin.

For instance, many of you have asked what you would need to be able to do to visit me. I am deeply appreciative of the interest you’ve shown in learning about MCS and less-toxic products! I wish I were more able to answer your questions in a timely manner.

Until I can write more, here are some links of resources put together by friends of mine:

  • Another great resource is the video/DVD, Secondhand Scent: Accommodating People with MCS. I’m biased because I participated in the making of this video, but I honestly think it is one of the best tools available to explain to people how and why to become more MCS-accessible. To order the video, please call the Boston Self-Help Center’s message line, 617-277-0080 (voice/TTY), and someone will call you back with details and arrangements.
  • Finally, another video/DVD about living with CFIDS and MCS is Funny, You Don’t Look Sick. This doesn’t provide information about how to become MCS-safer, per se, but before I got Lyme disease and got sicker, it was a pretty good description of my life (except in terms of severity). Co-produced by singer/songwriter Susan Abod, the movie is “an autobiography of an illness.” It gives you an eloquent glimpse into the life of someone with MCS and CFIDS. If you scroll down, you can watch a trailer for the movie on this page.

Indeed, Susan is finishing a very important second documentary, which she has been working on for over ten years, right now! (The trailer for this movie, Homesick, is below the one for Funny.) I’m very excited about this. I hope to interview her about that project soon.

Enjoy! I am very grateful for the requests for information, even if I’m not always able to keep up with them. Keep it coming!

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, head-on-a-platter SDiT

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6 Responses to “QuickPress: Funny Dog & Resources for Learning about MCS”


  1. 1 Kat September 19, 2011 at 1:29 am

    Sharon,

    Searching Dr. Bronner’s site for “unscented” as Peggy Munson suggested their products, and it appears their unscented line is now called “Baby Mild.” Can you confirm or deny that this is MCS safe?
    http://www.drbronner.com/DBMS/BAB.htm

  2. 2 Sharon Wachsler September 21, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Kat, I’m so sorry, I didn’t see this reply until now. SOmething is wrong with my email, ever since I switched computers — I am not getting all of my mail!
    I have never used Dr. Bronner’s because of their politics, so I don’t know much about them. I will have to look into this and get back to you.

  3. 3 Sharon Wachsler September 21, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Okelee-dokelee, neighborino. I followed the link. Here are the ingredients for the liquid soap:
    Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol
    I’d say that likely, for most MCSers, this would be tolerable for you to use around them. Coconut oil sometimes has scent, so it depends on whether the soap gives off a coconut smell and if the person reacts to that. Pure jojoba, if not processed toxically, does not bother me — I can even use it, myself — but I know this is not the case with all. So, I would say, most likely this would be safe for most MCSers, but if there’s someone with MCS in your life, you might want to check with them about the coconut and jojoba oils.

  4. 4 brilliantmindbrokenbody September 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    haha, that would have been a complete disaster with Hudson. He finds laughter very reinforcing, so if I’d started cracking up when he did something like that, he’d probably offer it the next time the opportunity presented itself.

    ~Kali

  5. 5 Sharon Wachsler September 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Barnum often finds laughter reinforcing, but in this case he seemed perplexed and very slightly hurt. If he was a person, I’d have said to him, “I’m not laughing AT you, I’m laughing WITH you,” you know? He wasn’t offended. He knew the laughter was “OK.” But it was not what he was going for!

  6. 6 brilliantmindbrokenbody September 24, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    My laughter does occasionally confuse Hudson, but more often than not, it just leads him to try to figure out what was causing the laughter so he can do it again!


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