At this site you will find titles published exclusively by Black Lab Books. First among them is The Joy of Lex: Life With A Service Dog – a frolicsome look at life with Lex, a black Lab service dog. In August of 2005, I was teamed with Lex at Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). This wonderful dog performs many tasks for me such as tugging off my socks, opening a door, turning on a light, picking up my dropped mouthstick, and more – all activities Lex was trained to perform. But it was one service that this highly intelligent dog performed for me, one he was not trained to do, that led to “The Joy of Lex.”
Shortly after graduation from CCI, in a serious wheelchair mishap, Lex saved me from certain injury. My electric wheelchair had spun out of control and lodged against a low stucco wall alongside the precipice of a steeply sloped driveway. Lex sensed his partner – precariously suspended there with three right wheels off the ground – was frozen and could not move to right the wheelchair. So without being told, Lex moved to the left side of the wheelchair and nudged it with his nose – just as he might to open a door. He nudged it again. And the chair stabilized!
Lexie’s heroic act deserved more than a hug and extra kibble. No poetry had been forthcoming from me for a long time, but if anything merited a poem this was it. After a long while “Suspended Animation” materialized. Then “On Guard” – another Lexie poem – emerged. Then another – to number, now, more than eighty.
Lexie as muse enabled poems which demonstrated there could be a positive dimension to a disability. That positive is none other than Lex himself. Further, these Lexie poems led to the creation of poems beyond the world of disability. But among all the obstacles that Lexie has helped me surmount, perhaps the best is – he had me writing again.
Born and raised in the South Bronx of the 1940s and 50s and attending local public and parochial schools there, I retired from elementary school teaching in New York City due to the dynamics of Progressive Spinal Muscular Atrophy in the 1980s. Upon my retirement and majoring in Celtic/Irish Studies, I was the first person to earn a Master’s Degree in English/Creating Writing from Queens College, NY through its Homebound Program. Utilizing a mouthstick to write and working primarily in sonnets and crowns, I have had poems published in more than forty journals on subjects as diverse as Lex, disabilities, growing up in The Bronx, the Bronx River, the art of Edvard Munch, the NASA Space Program and the writing life. Also among my published poetry are works with Celtic and Irish themes – subjects on which I have lectured.
I live in Westchester County, NY with my wife, Ginny, my daughter, Chris and Lex who knows it’s playtime when my son, John, visits. My diversions include genealogy, birding, and locating books, maps and prints. I would not tell Lexie this but there is another “Joy of Lex” to my life – a rollicking game of Scrabble.