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Cartoon shows Anne out on an autumn day walking the dog using her mobility scooter

Life wi the Broons: being oot wi the dugs helps me feel ‘normal’

Anne Brown

I’m beginning tae think that everybody that get’s a diagnosis o’ MS should be issued immediately wi’ a dug! Why? Tae keep your sanity and allow you tae be treated like a ‘normal’ person.

Most times we go oot wi’ the scooter or wheelchair, I become invisible! Folk jist pretend you’re no there. They dinny even walk roond you, they breenge right oot in front o’ you. There are those that dae talk tae you, but usually it’s in that heid tilted patronising way while they rub your arm, “Are you oot doin some shoppin? It’s a braw day fur it!” They talk at you like you’re a wean in a pushchair, no a grown wumman!

The worst are the yins that tut as you try to get by them, or try to get oot their way. It makes you feel like you’re in their road and should jist stay at hame to make their life easier.

This is a totally different story when we go oot wi’ the scooter or wheelchair and the dugs. We’ve met and chatted to loads o’ different folk but the one thing they huv in common is that they talk tae you, no at you!

I often wonder if these are the same folk that tut in shops. Who knows, but I dae know that when we’re oot wi’ the dugs we meet nice folk. Not a’ huv dugs o’ their ain, some are walkers, but a’ say “Mornin,” “Afternoon,” or some such, and often ask aboot oor dugs.

There are folk in work clothes or even suits that huv maybe just come in fae work an’ are walkin their dug. They’re usually in a hurry, trainers and a waterproof over their work clothes, but they still speak.

Durin the day, there’s often older folk wi’ grandweans. The grandweans scoot aboot on bikes or scooters on their way tae the swing park, while the adults stroll along, glad o’ the chance to tire them oot. They often stop to converse aboot the weather or the dugs, maybe even givin them a chance o’ a breather.

You see young couples oot fur a stroll, no dressed fur the terrain, in flip flops or sandals an’ nae jacket, their love keepin them warm. They stop to canoodle an’ always stay hand in hand but they say “hi” as we pass them by.

Then there are the silver walkers, wearing a’ the hiking gear, walking poles in hand, marching along; they often huv backpacks wi supplies fur their trek, flasks, pieces, granola bars an’ fruit. They picnic on rocky outcrops, binoculars an’ cameras oot in case there’s somethin interestin tae see. They like a blether, and often tell us o’ paths that are scooter friendly.

Sometimes you see a wee auld man wi’ a wee auld dug, both a bit long in the tooth and stiff, but the dugs still say hello tae each other while we huv a blether.

We meet ither folk like us, oot scooterin. We compare scooters an’ dugs, we bemoan the fact that if you get caught in a sudden downpour, you huv tae go the rest o’ the road sittin in a puddle wi’ a soggy gusset. I show off the waterproof jackets and trousers in a wee bag we bought after just this event. Even the dugs huv a waterproof in a bag noo, jist in case.

Folk often comment on oor dugs, askin what they are. (Chloe’s a Beagle/Whippet cross, Fraggle’s a Chinese Crested Powderpuff). We chat aboot oor dugs, their likes and dislikes, aboot the weather, aboot favourite walks; but most important is folk talking tae you, especially if Fraggle’s hud enough and he’s hitchin a ride back hame on ma knee. This is the time I feel ‘normal’ - the fact that I’ve got a scooter disny even come intae the equation.

We’re jist another couple oot walkin their dug.

Illustration by our wonderful volunteer, Elfreda Crehan.