The Film

Don't Pet Me, I'm Working is a feature-length documentary starring Phoebe the service dog and Lauren the human. From a hospital bed in Kansas, to a maximum security prison, to Hollywood, California, Don't Pet Me, I'm Working follows the many adventures, trials, and tribulations, of two friends with unlikely stories.

"Sit. Stay. Walk on."

Don't Pet Me, I'm Working- Trailer from Lauren on Vimeo.

Letters from Phoebe: A Series

(Ed. Note: The following is the first in a series of monthly installments called Letters From My St. Bernard Service Dog, Phoebe, During Her Year Off Traveling Abroad. It is, as you might guess, a collection of written correspondence between Phoebe and me as she travels the world and finds herself. Speaking of travel, doesn't your dog deserve to live each day in the comfort and luxury of the Dog Ritz Carlton? Check out for all your stylish dog crate/gate/toy box/crate training needs!)

October 5, 2012

Dear Lauren,

Well, I’ve made it. Paris is everything I thought it would be. I write you from a balcony overlooking the river Seine, or, I should say, “La Seine.” I think you were right; I think taking this time for myself is important. The rat race, the wearisome monotony of everyday life was becoming too much for my temerarious spirit. I know that my profession is a noble one and I have dedicated my life to a worthy cause. It’s just that, well, my newfound freedom has opened my eyes to the possibilities that lie before me. There is more to life than a career, after all! I plan to savor every moment of my travels and the decadent adventure that is sure to follow. Thank you for sensitively recognizing my need for a sabbatical. Though my keen sense of smell alerts you to detrimental chemical changes in your blood and brain, and your reliance on my strong, capable dog body makes it possible for you to balance, move about, and function as a productive member of society, I- What was I saying? I was talking about how much I help you in your life but there was something more. I was going to flatter you with a compliment. Oh! Even though I save your life, often, and I am the one with the otherworldly, psychic talents that regularly elicit “oohs!” and “aahs!” from strangers on the street, this time, champ, you were the one with the spot-on intuition.  

I toured the expansive grounds today at Luxembourg Gardens. I stopped to admire a particularly fragrant cluster of pansies when I noticed a young woman and her canine companion. Though the woman appeared able-bodied and strong, I was reminded of you. I made my way to the theatre des marionnettes and was amused by the pint-sized humans and their love of canine toys attached to human man hands. I was glad to have my camera ready when a miniature Napoleon danced his way onto the stage and seemed to wave in my general direction!

I plan to write again, soon, and regale you with tales of Champs-Elysées, the Francois Truffaut Cinema Library, and Disneyland Paris! Can you imagine? Until then, please remember to take your medication, and use your wheelchair if you are feeling fatigued. Oh, goodness, listen to me going on and on. I must remind myself that I am on vacation! 

Louvre, (LOL,)


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When we were kids, my sister and I liked to pretend we were international spies. I went by codename “Red Dog 3,” Morgan by “Tango 6.” Together, we explored far away lands, did very exciting far away things, and rescued good guys from the clutches of their villainous captors (homework permitting.) We communicated via walky talky and went on secret missions around the neighborhood, racing our bikes down the street with binoculars and Nerf guns in tow. Always imagining we were somewhere else.

I was twelve when I got sick. It felt like a gunshot to the gut, a horribly painful year and a half that got much worse before it got better. What started as an unexplained stomach pain quickly morphed into a different monster. I spent years in my hospital bed and imagined I was somewhere else.

Recovery was slow and steady. After years of paralysis, I needed to build muscle. Sitting upright was painful, at first. Gravity caused my legs to swell and my blood pressure to plummet. Everything throbbed. Eventually, though, it got easier, and I was able to spend more and more time in my motorized wheelchair and out of my bed. My dad took me on long drives through the country and we listened to Bob Seger’s Roll Me Away over and over again. It became my anthem. “I could go East, I could go West, it was all up to me to decide...” 

I put a lot of miles on my wheelchair that first year back in the land of the living. At night, I took walks with my family and friends, iPod and tiny boom box bumping, shadow dancing in the dark. Dreaming all the while of a city by the sea, and imagining I was there.

Once I regained enough strength to care for myself, I moved to Los Angeles. My parents were unbelievably brave and kind to let me go, after years of caring for me like an infant and praying I would have a life at all. And so I went, off in search of a rebuilt life of my own making. I didn’t realize until later that none of it was of my own making, and my freedom was made possible by the people and the home and the lessons that shaped me.

I loved the chaos of Los Angeles and the millions of sights and smells and sounds and souls that made it feel like a living, breathing thing. At night, especially, I loved to explore the nooks and crannies that hid in plain sight; secret passageways that lead to truths and stories long forgotten. But some nights, before I fell asleep in my overpriced studio apartment, I thought about home, and family, and midnight walks (rolls?) in my wheelchair with my dad. I remembered the freedom I felt when I took off down the street, music and streetlights leading the way. I’d fall asleep and dream I was someplace else.

One night, on a recent visit home, I took a walk with my Mom and Phoebe. Our shadows followed us and danced beneath the flickering, orange street lamps. I thought about all that had changed, and all that, thankfully, had remained the same. And I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Arya Stark and Jon Snow. And their dire wolves. And oh my God I'm getting more ashamed the more I write.

Sometimes we dress up like characters from George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones.