How Sully the Service Dog Made Me Cry

How Sully the Service Dog Made Me Cry

Last Tuesday I watched a video of Sully, former President George H.W. Bush’s service dog, pay his last respects at the Capitol building and I wasn’t prepared for the reaction I would have.

I watched as Sully was led in and as he properly sat in front of his former master’s casket. I noted the looks on the faces of those sitting and standing in the Capitol Rotunda as this was taking place and the tears started to well up.

There seemed to be a sadness in Sully’s eyes as he sat down again after his handler took him to the other side of the casket. That’s the moment I had to pause the video and cry.

I’m not a war hero, a former president, a successful businessman, or in the grand scheme of life, anyone of any importance, but I have an autism service dog, Tye, and in that moment I wondered what Tye would do if something were to happen to me.

Then I wondered what I would do if something were to happen to Tye before me, which is most likely.

The tears were once again flowing at that thought and I went to my bedroom (a benefit of working from home), crawled into bed and waited the ten seconds for Tye to come leaping onto my bed.

For the next half hour, maybe longer, I lay on my bed holding onto Tye and feeling blessed to have him in my life. When I started crying again, he put his paw on my face, as if to wipe away the tears. Good thing he didn’t know they were for him.

Tye can sense my mood, tell a difference in my heart rate and blood pressure from across the house and knows when things are going well and when they’re not. Tuesday was definitely one of the “not” days.

Just under two minutes into the 2:36 video, Sully laid on the ground just a few feet from the former President, as I would guess he did many times in the few months Bush 41 had Sully.

As he lays there, eyes on the casket, you’ll notice one other thing that he does. Every few moments he looks around and scans the crowd. You see, George Herbert Walker Bush is no longer with us, but Sully is still watching over his master and protecting him, constantly scanning for any danger to his master.

According to Shawn Abell of Dogs Nation, where Tye was trained, Sully can smell the former President, even in his casket, and that is why he is still watching over his owner.

As I sit at my desk typing away I hear a familiar snore from about ten feet away and I know Tye is where he usually spends his day, laying on a blanket where he can be near me, yet still see both the front and back door. He’s watching over me, just like a good service dog should.

As soon as I stop typing and start sobbing, he immediately gets up and comes to sit by my side with his head on my leg, showing me that he’s here for me to comfort me and help me through my day.

No matter where you stand in the realm of politics, it’s great to see that the White House, who is responsible for handling presidential viewings and funerals, made sure that Sully was a special part of the celebration.

Though our forty-first president only had Sully a short time, he had become a special member of the Bush family and he deserved to have his final moments with his former master.

Thanks to Dogs Nation and other groups that train service dogs for military veterans. You do our country a great service and for that, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Sully is headed back to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. where he will soon help other veterans in need, just as he did for 41.

A version of this post appeared on Good Men Project under the Not Weird Just Autistic column on December 5, 2018.

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Sick and Tired of Drowning in Depression? Turn the Tables and Be Happy I can't remember the last time I was truly happy

Sick and Tired of Drowning in Depression? Turn the Tables and Be Happy I can't remember the last time I was truly happy

Drowning.  When I think of that word I think of one of the most horrible ways to die.  Flailing around in the water with nothing to hold onto and no one to help you.  You’re on your own in something that seems expansive, yet could be something as small as a bathtub.

Drowning is what it feels like for me on a daily basis as I battle depression and do everything in my power to find the happiness that I know is out there.  It feels like my chances of finding happiness are slim to none, though that’s absolutely not true. 

How do I know this?  I can’t remember the last time I was truly happy and I’ve been searching for years.  The logical side of my autistic brain tells me that if I haven’t found it yet, my chances of ever finding happiness again are getting worse by the day.  The realistic part of my brain tells me that if others are happy, I can be as well.

The optimistic side of me wants to believe that today will be the day I stop drowning in depression and find my happiness, but as always, the day ends with me getting kicked in the junk, finding no happiness and feeling like an idiot for believing it was possible.

Sure, there have been moments where I stop treading water and find something to momentarily hang onto so I can enjoy a few moments of happiness, but it passes.  Once it does, just like Leonardo at the end of  Titanic, I can only hold on for so long and then I start sinking and it’s back to drowning in my depression.

What can we do as high functioning autistics to battle drowning in depression? 

That’s a good question with a not-so-clear answer, considering that although we’re similar in many of our traits, each is unique as autistic individuals.  One way is to get out of the house more and stop shutting ourselves off from the world.  Yes, that’s easier said than done, but we need to make a conscious effort to do it.

J.R. Reed drowning

Sitting in an empty house drowning in depression is no way to live your life.

I went to the chiropractor and comic book store this morning and as I drove away from the house, I realized I hadn’t left here in five days and that was only to go grocery shopping.  That is NOT what I mean when I say to get out of the house.  The kind of getting out of the house that I’ve been doing will only keep you drowning and that’s not what we want to do.

We want to get out and be around people or be surrounded by nature.  We want to get out where we can interact, think about things and feel good about what we’re doing.  I’ve lived in the Ozarks for a year now and though I have a couple people I consider friends, they’re not people that I’ve socialized with.

That means I either need to get out and find people I can socialize with (a very scary thought for the typical high functioning autistic) or I stay at home drowning.  Drowning, in case it’s not already painfully clear, is the thing we don’t want to do.

Find groups, such as Meetup groups, that fit an interest you have or check with your local community center, ask someone you know or search the Internet.  Talking to a psychologist or therapist may also yield some good ideas on how to stop the drowning and grab onto happiness once and for all.

If your psychiatrist has prescribed medicine, one way to stop drowning in depression is to make sure you take it on a daily basis and as prescribed.

I cannot emphasize this enough.  I’ve looked back over the past few months and have noticed a pattern in my life.  Although I really like my psychiatrist, I could do without his support staff.  He’s at a large group and inevitably, every few months appointments get scheduled that are several days after I’ve run out of most of my medications. 

When I mention that this is going to happen, I’m told that I can either take the appointment or I can not take it and wait longer.  I’ve mentioned this to the doctor, asking if he could write an extra refill on my medications so I can get through to the next appointment, but I’m told he can only write so many refills.  

Of course, I can always be notified of the mythical cancellation. so I can get in sooner.  There has NEVER been a cancellation that I’ve been notified of.

Doing something physical is another opportunity to combat depression.  Whether it’s yoga, walking the dog, hitting the gym, kayaking or whatever your thing is, getting out and getting your heart pumping and your body moving has been shown in study after study to lower depression in people.

Find something you’re interested in and do it with other people.  Let’s face it, we’re all nerds in some wayBy “all,” I mean neurotypicals as well as those of us on the spectrum.  Find what gets your nerd blood pumping and engage in that nerdy activity with others. 

I’ve been a comic book nerd for years.

J.R. Reed drowning

Comic Force in Branson, MO

Through my local comic book store, I found that they have Magic the Gathering tournaments with a $5 cost three nights a week.  So, at my age, I’ve started learning to play and most weeks Tye (my autism service dog) and myself will head down there one night a week to play.  

Is it scary to be around a group of people you don’t know?  Yeah, at first it is.  But then you realize that these people have more in common with you than you may think. 

We get slaughtered week after week but I’ve found that the people I’m playing against are extremely compassionate to the fact that I’m a new player, will help explain things to me and will even give me suggestions even when it goes against their best interest in the game. 

When I say “we” get slaughtered, I blame part of it on Tye.  Why blame it on a service dog that literally snores on the floor as I play?  Because it takes some of the heat off me!

So there you have it, a few suggestions on how to avoid drowning in depression. 

This is far from a comprehensive list and in fact, books could be and have been written on the subject.  Consider this a starting point for you in your journey to battle depression.

Now I want to know what you do to battle depression and also if you have tried any of these ideas and how they’ve worked for you.  Use the comments section below to let me know.

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic? 

Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Speaking of Asperger’s Life Support, I host a weekly group Mental Health call with rotating topics for Good Men Project and administrator Chris G. of the Asperger’s Life Support group will be my guest this Thursday night (Sept 13) at 9 pm Eastern/6pm Pacific as we talk about the benefits of online support groups.  Please feel free to join the call and join the discussion.  

The call-in number is 701-801-1220 and enter 934 817 242 to get you into the right call.  If you get there a couple minutes early, there will be a Politics call before us, so just hang tight!  


Photos courtesy Pixabay, Unsplash & J.R. Reed

Secrets of the Emerging Nerd That Is Me

Secrets of the Emerging Nerd That Is Me



noun Slang

an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit


My name is J.R. and I’m a nerd.  This isn’t a new revelation to me and probably not to those who have known me for a while.  I will say one thing about the definition above and that’s that I don’t believe it has to be a nonsocial hobby or pursuit.  Don’t believe me?  What about all the Dungeons & Dragons nerds out there?  They’re being social, just with their own type.

People on the autism spectrum, especially high functioning autistics (HFA’s) like me, tend to get focused on one or two things, often to the point where it becomes an obsession.  Sometimes that’s good and other times, not so much.  Usually not so much.

J.R. Reed Not Weird Just Autistic

The Jackalopes of the Spring Select League

For more than twenty years I played and coached ice hockey.  When I was coaching I coached at every level from Learn To Play classes, to weekly skill clinics to youth recreational leagues to travel teams to high school.  Generally, I coached at least three teams at a time and my record, including tournament teams, was eight teams at one time.  If that isn’t focusing on one thing and ignoring everything else, I don’t know what is.

Almost a year ago I moved from the sensory overload that is Southern California to the quiet and peacefulness of lakes, trees, and moonshine that is the Ozarks and I love it.  I knew I would be giving up coaching and playing, but I was ready for something new and more relaxing in my life.  What I didn’t consider was the fact that I would probably need to find another thing for me to hyper-focus on.

J.R. Reed Not Weird Just

Comic Force in Branson, MO

A few months after moving here I met the owners of Comic Force, my local comic book shop and my inner nerd found what it had been looking for.  It had literally been years since I had been in a comic book store and not only is this one cool (check out the floor in the pic on the right), but it was like nerd-vana.

I had no idea that comic books had become such a huge thing and had no clue of just how many new characters there were, such as The Amazing Squirrel Girl (which I refuse to pick up and look at because it just sounds lame).   As soon as I saw that Squirrel Girl cover about fifteen nut jokes immediately went through my brain.

J.R. Reed Not Weird Just Autistic

The DC Bombshells are an old-school male nerd’s dream come true!

I also found that DC has taken some of their most beloved characters and changed them up a bit for modern times as well as took some and made them very retro as is the case with a series I enjoy, DC’s Bombshells, a hip, cool version of Wonder Woman, Supergirl and other female heroines and villains teaming up to fight for justice during World War II.

After my head stopped spinning from all the selections they had, I looked around and finally found some titles that I was interested in.  I bought a few, and being a typical Aspie and spending hours on the tablet/computer doing research on characters, story arcs, new titles coming out and various series.  After doing that I found that I had more female comic book characters I was interested in than male characters, something I probably need to talk with my psychiatrist about.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.comNot Weird Just Autistic

Ant-Man & The Wasp

I guess as autistic obsessions go, comic books are pretty low level as far as being weird, scary or strange and very high level on the nerd scale.  To be fair, I do have comic books that feature male characters such as Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Doctor Strange, Deadpool and Ant-Man & The Wasp, which technically is a guy and a girl, but for this argument, at least it’s got a male character listed first.

Representing the estrogen-powered superheroes in my collection are the Bombshells, Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Black Widow.  I guess you could call me an equal opportunity comic book nerd.

“J.R.,” you ask.  “Is there a point to all this or are you just talking about comic books?”

I do have a point and that’s that as high functioning autistics, Aspies or whatever you want to call us, we generally get hyper-focused on something and, as long as it’s not porn, meth or something else harmful or potentially harmful, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The neurotypicals (non-autistics) in our lives may not understand these things and may even call them obsessions, but they’re not obsessions.  They’re part of who we are and they’re part of the autistic traits that so many of us have.

What we as people on the spectrum need to realize is that not everyone in our lives is going to be interested in what we get caught up in and we have to understand that because we naturally want to share our knowledge with others.  Yes, the majority of us are naturally afraid of social situations, but when we find people that are like-minded and share our same interests, we can make friends both on and off the spectrum and that’s a good thing.

As much as we think we want to be alone, we really don’t.  So my challenge to all my fellow autistic nerds is to go out there this week and whether it be comic books or something else, try and find one person you can connect with and become friends with.  When we find others that share our passions and interests, life is better.


Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this. 

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook groupAspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in blue.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Photos courtesy Purple Chin Media/J.R. Reed

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An Attractive Terrific And Nerdy Prospective New Woman

An Attractive Terrific And Nerdy Prospective New Woman

To be clear, this is not the new woman.  I think this is Winnie from The Wonder Years who grew up to be a cute math nerd.  Or maybe it’s someone else.  


Yes, you read the title corrective.  J.R. has a possible probable new woman in his life.  When last we spoke about the topic of dating on this blog, I had sworn it off, written a book about cross spectrum dating, had it published and it’s now available on Amazon and Kindle.  Yes, that was a shameless plug, but at least it’s out of the way.

The last relationship I had wasn’t amazing and my subsequent online encounters were horrible at best.  I’m fifty-two and I had women in their sixties and even early seventies sending me messages.  Sorry, but at my age, I’m not looking for a cougar.  The last time I was online. two women flat out said that they could never date a guy with a service dog.  That really bummed me out and I swore off online dating forever.

Fast-forward a few months and, “forever,” is apparently over because I decided to give it one more shot.  The first two days were filled with wonder at women who try way too hard to make themselves look sexy, women who make me wonder what, “average,” really is in this country and women with profiles that make you want to run.

I’m pretty picky about who I send messages to.  I actually read the woman’s profile–a foreign concept to many–and when I send a message I reference things in that profile so they know I did more than look at pictures and send a message.  The third night I messaged a woman I’ll call Jo.  It’s not her real name. but it’s not a bad one. I can think of a lot worse fake names for a new woman in my life.

In three nights I found one woman that I was interested in sending a message to and I decided that was it.  If she didn’t message me back, it was all good and I would go back to the dating underground for the foreseeable future.

But something amazing happened.  This woman, who I found both attractive and intriguing based on her profile, messaged me back within a few hours.  We messaged for a while and then eventually moved to text for a day and then to talking on the phone.

After a couple days of conversations with no lulls or weird moments and after having made a date for Sunday, I decided this girl was what I was looking for and I could see us getting along.  It was then that I started thinking about when I should tell her that I have Asperger’s. 

In case you wonder why I need to tell her about my Asperger’s before our first date, the fact that I have a service dog makes it kind of necessary to drop that bomb early on.  A black lab in a service vest is hard to hide on a date…

The sparking conversation that I was offering up was certainly helping, as was my occasional wit and partial charm, so I felt very relaxed in telling the new woman that I’m up on the spectrum.  I thought it would go well, but it was even better than I imagined.

eye roll JR Reed Not Weird Just Autistic has personality, which I love, and I’ve gotten the eye roll emoji more than several times after texting things.  I don’t mind the eye roll when it’s done in fun, which is how I’m pretty sure she means it.  As I said, she has a personality which keeps the conversations fun and both of us laughing.  Also, I’m sure I’ve gotten the eye roll many times on the phone, I just can’t see it.

It’s amazing how connecting, or at least feeling the beginning of a connection, with someone can make you feel great.  Not that I was feeling bad before, but it’s nice to know that there’s someone you’re interested in who is interested in you as well.  Though we’ve “known” each other less than a week, it was cool to have her encourage me and wish me luck as I went to my book signing the other night and to actually like me for who I am.

I’m not one of those people who sugar coats things and tries to make myself look better than I am so that I can woo a woman my direction.  I’m simply myself and if she likes me, then wooing may take place at some point.  Why would I pretend to be someone I’m not so that she likes me, knowing I can’t keep that charade up forever? 

All that does is waste people’s time and both people end up getting hurt and I don’t want to hurt anyone.  That’s not how I roll.

So the bottom line is this, now I get a fresh start at creating a great relationship with a new woman and I get new (potentially) very happy chapters for one of the books I’m writing, Asperger’s Is My Superpower.  

What will happen Sunday and beyond?  I don’t know.  To quote singer Natasha Bedingfield, “The pen’s in my hand.  Ending unplanned.”  I’m taking this ride on faith, some good intuition and am going to have fun seeing where it takes me.  Or, I guess, takes us.  I’m making no assumptions, not looking too far ahead and should things look like they’re starting to work out, letting communication be what pulls us closer together.

When you find a new woman who is attractive, terrific and nerdy all at the same time, that’s a woman you want to keep around and see if you two can build a solid relationship based on friendship, honesty, and trust.   

Will we click and build something together?  Who knows.  Stay tuned and you’ll find out.  Better yet, enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this. 


Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook groupAspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

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