So, we got a dog!

Say hello to Maggie May!

The story goes Maggie May’s mother (say that five times fast…) birthed Maggie and her siblings in a kill shelter in Georgia. Maggie is a Beagle-Labrador mix. Or a Beagador. Or a Labbe. Or, if you’re French, La’Beagle.

Currently, Maggie May is 14 weeks old. She is black with white paws, a white underbelly, and a brushstroke of white at her tail’s end. She loves to play with the kids, take walks, chase birds, lay in the grass, and eat Cheerios.

Also, she is not impressed with a writer’s life.

I explained a few weeks ago, that my kids practiced soccer for 20 minutes everyday for an entire year to earn a dog. Immediately after the 365th consecutive day of soccer practice, the kids began tossing around dog names before deciding on Maggie May. And so with a name picked before we had a dog we began to look. Then one day, our Maggie appeared on our laptop screen available for adoption…already named Maggie.


Cindy and I set the soccer challenge because we thought the kids would fail. (Good parenting?) We didn’t really want a dog. With our family’s busy life style and my health, a dog was just more work, more stress we wanted to avoid.

But the kids, with dogged determination, completed their challenge and a deal is a deal.

You made a first-class fool out of me
But I’m as blind as a fool can be
You stole my heart, but I love you anyway

“Maggie May” by Rod Stewart

I would not describe myself as a “dog person.” But what surprised me was how quickly I fell in love with Maggie May. Her curiosity. Her playfulness. Her spirit. Her sweetness. And caring for Maggie provided relief from obsessing over my own care. I know the term “self-care” is popular right now. But when you have a degenerative illness, “self-care” can quickly lead to self-obsession, which for me, is obsessing over my growing physical limitations, which make me feel like shit.

Speaking of, even Maggie’s first accident is cute.

Every day, for the last seven and a half years, I have woken up thinking about my illness. Will today be physically difficult? Will the dizziness in my brain stop? Will I fall today? And if I do fall, will it be in front of people? Will I struggle, literally and figuratively, to find my voice? Yes, this is selfish. Yes, this is destructive.

But since adopting Maggie, my morning thoughts are with her. Is she crying in her cage? Is she hungry? Does she need to go out?

And sometimes, thinking of someone or somedog rather than your fragile self is the sweet relief you need.

Be well,


PS: I want to give a big thanks to everyone who provided me with dog advice! Your stories and experiences have eased my worries about raising a dog.

PSS: Ironically, May 20th was National Rescue Dog Day.

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A letter to my son about his dreams


Need some encouragement? Some perspective? This hardworking, almost-handsome, suburban soccer dad can help. Subscribe and, like a pizza, get my posts delivered to your door (your email inbox). No spam. Just posts.


Jay Armstrong is a writer, blogger, speaker, and a former award-winning high school English teacher. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. He hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life. For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:

1. Reading
2. Writing 
3. Exercising
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents and a beer with his friends)

Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time. 

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