ME/CFS and the Magic of the Canine Factor

July 16, 2014

Jody Smith has been taken by surprise by the value of having a dog when dealing with ME/CFS …

cleo-tulips

Cleo

There’s been plenty of research indicating that having pets is good for your health. I never really noticed any particular benefits to having cats, though that may have had more to do with my cats. They’ve been fairly indifferent to my presence and we’ve shared a live-and-let-live type of relationship over the years.

Then I got a dog.

I didn’t even want this dog in the beginning, to be honest. My son Duncan had adopted Cleo, a German Shepherd-Lab mix that had ended up at the Humane Society after an injury that required amputation of her back left leg. But after many months Duncan realized that he couldn’t meet her particular needs.

We don’t know how long Cleo had been on her own, nor how long her leg had been broken before she was rescued. We do know that the experience had left her quite traumatized, and she would become hysterical if left alone in a room for more than 30 seconds.

Duncan couldn’t stay with her 24 hours a day and was becoming desperate about what to do with her. She ended up living with me, my husband Alan and our other son Jesse. I work at home online, Alan is retired due to fibromyalgia and Jesse has ME/CFS, like me. There is always someone at home, and that meant that our house was perfect for Cleo.

When we first got her, I was immensely hampered by a bad knee — it was swollen, sore, and incapable of bearing my weight. I could limp around the house but I couldn’t take Cleo for walks. For various reasons, neither could my two guys.

For the first couple of months, in order to allow Cleo some degree of exercise, I would go in the backyard with her many times a day, and limp around the yard, encouraging her to run. I threw sticks that she would fetch. Well, not exactly fetch. She would get the stick and refuse to give it back to me. So I’d throw another one, and pick up the first one after she dropped it to chase the second one.

This took a lot out of me but it was doable, and that was the extent of her exercise during those first months. After I started seeing a chiropractor for my knee, it started slowly to get better. Then I was able to walk around the yard with her. It hurt too much to walk on pavement, so we stayed on the grass. Both of us got a little exercise. My chiropractor was pleased, she said this would be therapy for my bad knee.

After a little more improvement, I started walking to the first Stop sign near our house. The pavement was hard on my knee, and it hurt during and after our walk. But I was careful not to overdo it and with more encouragement from my chiropractor who could see the ongoing improvement, I persevered.

Eventually we were able to walk to the second Stop sign before turning back toward home. I’d be sore, and out of breath because of having been so out of shape for so long, but Cleo was happy for any activity at all, and whatever pace and distance I was up for, she was in favour of it.

Now, more than a year later, we can walk at a normal (well, normal for someone with ME/CFS) rate for half an hour or more. I am better able to keep up with her, without being dragged at my end of the leash so much.

I know that if I hadn’t had to walk Cleo every day, plenty of those days I would have decided to stay inside. But I didn’t want to disappoint the dog. And in the long run, it helped me to regain the use of my knee.

I thought we must have looked pretty interesting — the three-legged dog out walking with the woman with the gimpy left leg limping along behind her. But now we sail along.

Walking Cleo has proven beneficial in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. Though I’ve lived in my house for 20 years, I know almost nobody in my neighborhood these days. I have gone for walks by myself on these streets for years, without seeing a soul I recognized, and without any greetings or conversations from people on those streets. But in the last year or so with Cleo, I have met many of the people who live in my subdivision.

Some of them stop their car to tell me what a great dog I have. Some approach us on the street, or come out to the road from their yards to see Cleo and have a little chat. She is so used to this that any time someone says “Hello” on the street, she will lay down on her belly and wait for them to come scratch her behind her left ear — the one she can’t scratch by herself, having no back left leg.

She is well-known in our subdivision, and she has helped immeasurably to diminish the feeling of being invisible that so often accompanies a chronic condition like ME/CFS.

The sense of isolation and loneliness that is also part of the chronic package has also eased somewhat, for all of us at the Smith house. She follows me around the house, always interested in knowing what we might be doing next.

She sleeps in Jesse’s room, and cuddles with him. She is his friend who requires little and offers up unconditional love and attention. When he’s tired and needs to be curled up on his bed, she is happy to spend time with him.

When Alan grabs his shoes, getting ready to go out to do some shopping, or run errands, Cleo protests, begging him to stay home with her. When he gets back, she meets him at the door, with tail wagging, looking for a chin scratch and a dog biscuit. When he sits down, she lays at his feet, content that all her people are back in the nest where she thinks we all belong.

Do you have a pet that brings greater soundness to your soul?

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56 comments

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

SilverbladeTE July 16, 2014 at 4:28 pm

wouldn't be without my pooch, love her to bits :)

Jody July 16, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Silverblade TE,

You know, two years ago I wouldn't have understood that. But now, I quite agree with you.:)

AndyPandy July 16, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Great story. Thanks for brightening my day :)

Jody July 16, 2014 at 5:56 pm

AndyPandy,

I'm so glad you liked it.:)

JT1024 July 16, 2014 at 9:29 pm

I am so glad you have a dog now Jody! I lost mine (my avatar) a year and a half ago and I've not gotten another because my health has been so poor.

Since I work full time and I live alone, I've fallen behind in everything at home. The last few years of Chauncey's life involved quite a bit of surgery and medication. The vet bills were astronomical.

I can't wait to get another dog….. It makes me very sad having to wait but I don't have a choice at this point. I'm in basic survival mode. I still look at rescue dogs everyday!

Thanks for sharing your joy! ~ JT

jimmy86 July 17, 2014 at 3:28 am

so true. dogs are the best. sadly my dog died last year. since then my mood is worse. but I will get a new one soon ;)

Jody July 17, 2014 at 6:46 am
JT1024

I am so glad you have a dog now Jody! I lost mine (my avatar) a year and a half ago and I've not gotten another because my health has been so poor.

Since I work full time and I live alone, I've fallen behind in everything at home. The last few years of Chauncey's life involved quite a bit of surgery and medication. The vet bills were astronomical.

I can't wait to get another dog….. It makes me very sad having to wait but I don't have a choice at this point. I'm in basic survival mode. I still look at rescue dogs everyday!

Thanks for sharing your joy! ~ JT

JT

I'm sorry to hear about your dog. You must miss him. I hope you are able to get another dog, it will be so good for both of you when the time comes.

Jody July 17, 2014 at 6:46 am
jimmy86

so true. dogs are the best. sadly my dog died last year. since then my mood is worse. but I will get a new one soon ;)

Jimmy,

I hope you're able to get a dog very soon.:)

Keela Too July 17, 2014 at 10:02 am

Ah yes our dogs!! Mine help my sanity. I have a recliner out in the woods and my dogs come out with me (I use a scooter to get out there) and we all chill in the trees together.

I also do a little agility training from a scooter. If anyone is curious I blog about it here: http://abilityforagility.blogspot.co.uk/

Jody July 17, 2014 at 10:34 am

Sounds great, Keela Too.:)

Mia Dit July 17, 2014 at 5:44 pm
JT1024

I am so glad you have a dog now Jody! I lost mine (my avatar) a year and a half ago and I've not gotten another because my health has been so poor.

Since I work full time and I live alone, I've fallen behind in everything at home. The last few years of Chauncey's life involved quite a bit of surgery and medication. The vet bills were astronomical.

I can't wait to get another dog….. It makes me very sad having to wait but I don't have a choice at this point. I'm in basic survival mode. I still look at rescue dogs everyday!

Thanks for sharing your joy! ~ JT

We rescued two adult Airedales (mother and daughter) before I got sick. A year later I got sick and was bedridden for almost four months. I would always have one or both in the bed with me. It was hard for my husband to find room in our King size bed when his bed time came, but somehow we all fit. When I started getting around a little better, they were right there with me. If I got up in the night to use the restroom, one would always come and make sure I was okay.

I love that we rescued two adult dogs, but I may consider being a foster parent for senior dogs in the future. Sometimes, their needs are so desperate it makes my ME/CFS seem like a summer cold.

Jody July 17, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Mia Dit

I can see why you'd be thinking of adopting senior dogs in future. They're energy level will be more like your own, and you won't feel like you're depriving them. I'm sure your dogs are happy with you though.

I know Cleo would enjoy more action, but she's content to operate at my level, just to be together. I'm sure your dogs are the same.:)

taniaaust1 July 18, 2014 at 8:51 am

I like the cats I foster for the rescue org (I only ever foster one at a time). My current one loves now to sleep on my bed by me every night.

Jody July 18, 2014 at 6:29 pm

taniaaust1,

and cats are really low maintenance, good for someone with ME.

whodathunkit July 19, 2014 at 9:34 am

Jody, awesome, awesome post. :-)

One of my life's soulmates is a dog. A pit bull, in fact. I'd post a cute pic for you but can't do that in comments. :-)

A word about cats: they are a lot like dogs. For instance, all my cats have always walked with me and my dogs. When the current clowder (the proper term for a group of cats) were younger they would all walk with us at the same time if they were all outside: 1 human, 2 dogs, and five cats, all strung out along the sidewalk. Neighbors called it "the parade". People still remark upon it, although only a couple of cats at a time walk with us now. Everyone (all species in the parade) is getting older, and some have passed, or habits have changed. I'm down to three older cats now, and the universe hasn't sent me any adoptees in a while. That's probably a good thing. It's getting harder for me to keep up with the demands of a large group of animals.

Anyway, figuring out how to treat a cat so that it does "non-cat things" like walk with you or follow you around can be challenging, especially if you're naturally a dog person. But if you can figure it out, it's very rewarding. They are as loyal and loving as dogs, and in many instances are more cuddly.

Jody July 19, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Whodathunkit,

I am picturing your parade. Now THAT is awesome.:)

Gingergrrl July 19, 2014 at 11:41 pm

@Jody Thank you for your article and my dog has gotten me through some rough days as well. She is a mini-dachshund and will be nine in Nov. I got her as a puppy when she was only seven weeks old (before I was sick.) The avatar is a picture that I found on-line but it looks exactly like her, and I mean exactly (like she did a private photo shoot behind my back!)

Jody July 21, 2014 at 7:18 am

Gingergrrl,

Sweet looking dog.:) I'll bet she is lovely company for you.

liverock July 23, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Lovely article Jody and pleased that you have an extra heartbeat in the home who is bringing peace and contentment to your family.

I have never actually owned a dog of my own, they just seemed to have wandered into my life from neighbors who actually owned them.

The first one was a wire haired mongrel called Micky, who was really a dog owned by a factory a few miles away. He earned his bread by being a rat catcher extraordinaire at the factory. He could kill a rat in a few seconds by nipping it in the neck and flinging it in the air and breaking its neck. Once he adopted me I thought he would knuckle down and become a regular house dog, but he kept wandering off to who knows where for a week at a time.

One time he was away for over a month and we had given up hope of him ever returning, but he did eventally turn up caked in mud,curled up on the floor and slept nonstop for 3 days.

Obviously Micky was his own dog and he was never going to going to change to be the housedog we anticipated. I suppose being petted was small fry to him after being head ratcatcher.

When I was younger whilst serving in the army in Benghazi, I looked after a small wild dog puppy for a while. Arabs dont keep dogs and any dogs you see in Libya are wild dogs. Usually these dogs roam around in packs and this one got left behind somehow. Again another dog with a mind of its own although some the of the lads reckoned they eventually can be trained.

View attachment 7904

Now of course, people who dont know anything about CFS, consider me an ideal choice for looking after their dog when they jet off to the Costa Brava . I've only done it once with one dog and it really wore me out.

Cindy was a lovely labrador house dog and whenever I saw her previously she seemed to be always sleeping. Obviously, I thought this dog has 'doggy ME', so we would make for a nice amicable 2 weeks together with a nice slow walk around the park once a day, so I agreed to dog watch her.

Unfortunately as soon as it was off the leash in the park she was tearing off after every squirrel she could see and getting hopelessly lost. When not chasing squirrels it was balls of all shapes and sizes. Whether it was kids playing a ball game or organised ball games going on, she would chase any moving ball,take the ball off them.and then run off with it, which some playing in the organised ball games didnt find amusing.

With all this going on and the neighbors ringing up all the time from Costa Brava worrying about their dog I hadnt the heart to tell them it had run off in the woods and got lost.

After a few days of this it ended up me just doing a few stick throws in the back garden otherwise I would have ended up crashing. This dog did definitely not have 'doggy ME', and no more dog watching for me.:rolleyes:

Obviously I dont attract the Cleo type of dog, only those who are used to having their own way. Maybe I need a few lessons from Cesar The Dog Whisperer.:)

.

Jody July 24, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Liverock,

You've had some pretty cool experiences with other people's dogs.:) I used to live in a cottage near a trailer park. Two cats started hanging around, and I would feed them when it seemed like they weren't going to go away. I thought they were strays. Eventually I started letting them in and thought of them as my cats. When they would be gone for a few days at a time I worried about them. But they came back … for a few days. I found out that they did this routine with people throughout the trailer park as well. Guess they figured they were the kings of the neighbourhood. And … they were.

When I moved out of the cottage the next year I thought about taking them with me but realized that I'd be taking them away from their real home, which was half the homes in the neighbourhood.

Cleo didn't start out as a calm dog. She was quite hyper and anxious, shrilling and barking all day long as she nervously followed us from room to room, afraid of being abandoned again. My son Jesse was the Dog Whisperer who helped her to become calm and relaxed.

jimells July 25, 2014 at 12:38 pm

I live with two cockatiels. They are likely the reason I haven't killed myself yet. They are easy to care for and cost very little to feed. They don't mind when I'm too sick to pay them much attention, as they have each other.

I pretty much rescued them from a high school student who was kinda afraid of them and had no idea how to care for companion birds. I suspect they had never been out of their cage, or handled, or been allowed to fly. Unfortunately this means I can't pick them up or otherwise touch them, and they won't ride my shoulder, like the African Grey in my picture.

They have a pretty good life now. The only time their cage is closed is at night. I love seeing them fly around the house. At the same time, it saddens me to think I can never let them fly outside, because they would panic and get lost. God created birds to fly, and Man created cages so they can't.

Our favorite activity is bath time. I mist them with a spray bottle while they run around the top of their cage and spread their wings and shake off the water like a dog.

I seldom see or talk to other people. It doesn't seem to bother me much, as long as I have Marco and Polo to keep me company.

Nico July 28, 2014 at 10:19 am

Jody, it's a lovely story, and of course there are challenges. It's very hard for me to imagine having a dog because the ME I have is severe, also live in an apt. by myself. I'm not sure what I'd do when it's bath time for the dog (even a small one). I've never owned a dog, but I think a dog in my care would not lead a happy life… esp. because lately I've been sleeping 10 hours.
I'm with @jimells in that when I had my kitty I often told him it was he who was keeping me alive. I no longer have kitty, as he died 2 years ago… and my life has been at times in upheaval making adopting another animal worrisome. I now live in a community where I don't know many (or any) people well at all, so in some ways it would be a good time to adopt again. However, not owning a vehicle worries me: my dear kitty had a couple of emergencies, and it was such a scramble & stress to find someone who could on a moment's notice take us to the vet. And, then there are the bills. A dental bill was $1000 for a cat. (I got support from an outside org for this, luckily). An emergency bill was over $600. Aside from that, I loved my kitty very very much. He was a very unusual cat. Highly intelligent: I called him part cat, dog, and monkey.
I agree having an animal does keep us going, provides joy, and I'm so glad your family is a good fit for Cleo's needs. Wishing you all many happy moments together!!!! :-D

BeBe July 28, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Hooray for our animal friends, many Blessings on them all. Their needs are so small and they give so much. I have had many rescue cats and it's really a mutual rescue! I love/d them all dearly and they have kept me sane and given me a purpose when I've been at my lowest on this journey. Their love may be the number one reason I maintain joy thru this now 14 year battle with CFS/ME. Although I love all animals, I am a cat lady and speak fluent feline so there is a lot of communication and mutual compassion, especially when several have been sick themselves. My human daughter knows I think of them as my other kids :) Seriously, I can't imagine going through this crap without their sweet, funny, and loving companionship. Over the past five years I have lost several of my most favorites and it's been so hard with crashes, but I go and rescue again. It really heals and we both get a better quality of life. I would be lost without them.
So although I am a real mother of a truly wonderful loving human woman, I would not ever want to be without my dear cat-kids who share with me their absolute and unconditional healing love and company.

SSLolly July 28, 2014 at 3:30 pm

I am surprised that the conversation of emotional support dogs and service animals rarely popup in our conversations. Training a dog to pick up the paper, the mail, my shoes or deliver a note 3 flights down is not something I could have accomplished in my darkest of days. However Pandora (small cattle dog or mini auzzie mix) is now at my side and ready to work as requested. She is great at helping me to find my mom in an overwhelming store, my husband who walks faster than I do in the park, and the car lost in a sea of cars. More regularly she finds the less responsive escaped bassethound or cat with the request "go get …". More importantly is ready for every day; the days we share a pillow, or the days we attempt to move around in the world. She knows the difference between, "walk with me" and "get Halley" She can pick up pencils I drop and deliver it to my lap, or take a note to my husband. Some dogs are able to provide a heads up on environmental triggers, low blood sugar, and eminent seizures. Finding trainers to help train pets for service is difficult and not all pets are trainable. Already trained service dogs are expensive and hard to come by. Books out about training your own service dog are available on Amazon. Also, if children are involved there are books about proper interaction with service dogs. Due to my limitations we keep neighborhood kids on retainer to come by twice a week (sometimes more frequently) to walk, play, and sometimes feed our two dogs, and cat. Sometimes these neighborhood kids also help by watering plants and bring in the mail. On my good days, Pandora is always up for a game of ball, frisby, walk, or just to be my buddy.View attachment 7968 View attachment 7969 View attachment 7970 These animals and kids do not only provide additional love and fun, together they open my world in ways that would otherwise be closed or at least narrowed.

catly July 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Just wanted to chime in and say how much I have enjoyed this thread. Thanks @Jody for your lovely blog!

I haven't had a dog since I was a child, growing up on a farm where we had lots of dogs and cats and horses.

I currently have 2 horses, picture in my avatar and two cats. They all really help to keep me going and give me endless hours of enjoyment and love. Yes, even horses can be affectionate and cats are for sure!

I do hope to own a dog again before I die. Maybe in a couple of years as I'm planning to move back to the farm I grew up on and move in with my brother so I'll have some help if I need it…and lots of room for animals!

Jody July 28, 2014 at 3:46 pm
jimells

I live with two cockatiels. They are likely the reason I haven't killed myself yet. They are easy to care for and cost very little to feed. They don't mind when I'm too sick to pay them much attention, as they have each other.

I pretty much rescued them from a high school student who was kinda afraid of them and had no idea how to care for companion birds. I suspect they had never been out of their cage, or handled, or been allowed to fly. Unfortunately this means I can't pick them up or otherwise touch them, and they won't ride my shoulder, like the African Grey in my picture.

They have a pretty good life now. The only time their cage is closed is at night. I love seeing them fly around the house. At the same time, it saddens me to think I can never let them fly outside, because they would panic and get lost. God created birds to fly, and Man created cages so they can't.

Our favorite activity is bath time. I mist them with a spray bottle while they run around the top of their cage and spread their wings and shake off the water like a dog.

I seldom see or talk to other people. It doesn't seem to bother me much, as long as I have Marco and Polo to keep me company.

Jimells,

I'm glad Marco and Polo have kept you from killing yourself. A little pet company can go a long way, sometimes better than human company.

Jody July 28, 2014 at 3:48 pm
Nico

Jody, it's a lovely story, and of course there are challenges. It's very hard for me to imagine having a dog because the ME I have is severe, also live in an apt. by myself. I'm not sure what I'd do when it's bath time for the dog (even a small one). I've never owned a dog, but I think a dog in my care would not lead a happy life… esp. because lately I've been sleeping 10 hours.
I'm with @jimells in that when I had my kitty I often told him it was he who was keeping me alive. I no longer have kitty, as he died 2 years ago… and my life has been at times in upheaval making adopting another animal worrisome. I now live in a community where I don't know many (or any) people well at all, so in some ways it would be a good time to adopt again. However, not owning a vehicle worries me: my dear kitty had a couple of emergencies, and it was such a scramble & stress to find someone who could on a moment's notice take us to the vet. And, then there are the bills. A dental bill was $1000 for a cat. (I got support from an outside org for this, luckily). An emergency bill was over $600. Aside from that, I loved my kitty very very much. He was a very unusual cat. Highly intelligent: I called him part cat, dog, and monkey.
I agree having an animal does keep us going, provides joy, and I'm so glad your family is a good fit for Cleo's needs. Wishing you all many happy moments together!!!! :-D

Nico,

I hope the time comes when you'll be able to have a pet once again. A cat would definitely be a better fit for you, sounds like. They don't need much and their purring is healing.

Jody July 28, 2014 at 3:50 pm
BeBe

Hooray for our animal friends, many Blessings on them all. Their needs are so small and they give so much. I have had many rescue cats and it's really a mutual rescue! I love/d them all dearly and they have kept me sane and given me a purpose when I've been at my lowest on this journey. Their love may be the number one reason I maintain joy thru this now 14 year battle with CFS/ME. Although I love all animals, I am a cat lady and speak fluent feline so there is a lot of communication and mutual compassion, especially when several have been sick themselves. My human daughter knows I think of them as my other kids :) Seriously, I can't imagine going through this crap without their sweet, funny, and loving companionship. Over the past five years I have lost several of my most favorites and it's been so hard with crashes, but I go and rescue again. It really heals and we both get a better quality of life. I would be lost without them.
So although I am a real mother of a truly wonderful loving human woman, I would not ever want to be without my dear cat-kids who share with me their absolute and unconditional healing love and company.

BeBe

You sound like a great cat lady. :)

Jody July 28, 2014 at 3:52 pm
SSLolly

I am surprised that the conversation of emotional support dogs and service animals rarely popup in our conversations. Training a dog to pick up the paper, the mail, my shoes or deliver a note 3 flights down is not something I could have accomplished in my darkest of days. However Pandora (small cattle dog or mini auzzie mix) is now at my side and ready to work as requested. She is great at helping me to find my mom in an overwhelming store, my husband who walks faster than I do in the park, and the car lost in a sea of cars. More regularly she finds the less responsive escaped bassethound or cat with the request "go get …". More importantly is ready for every day; the days we share a pillow, or the days we attempt to move around in the world. She knows the difference between, "walk with me" and "get Halley" She can pick up pencils I drop and deliver it to my lap, or take a note to my husband. Some dogs are able to provide a heads up on environmental triggers, low blood sugar, and eminent seizures. Finding trainers to help train pets for service is difficult and not all pets are trainable. Already trained service dogs are expensive and hard to come by. Books out about training your own service dog are available on Amazon. Also, if children are involved there are books about proper interaction with service dogs. Due to my limitations we keep neighborhood kids on retainer to come by twice a week (sometimes more frequently) to walk, play, and sometimes feed our two dogs, and cat. Sometimes these neighborhood kids also help by watering plants and bring in the mail. On my good days, Pandora is always up for a game of ball, frisby, walk, or just to be my buddy.View attachment 7968 View attachment 7969 View attachment 7970 These animals and kids do not only provide additional love and fun, together they open my world in ways that would otherwise be closed or at least narrowed.

SSLolly,

Sounds like your dogs, and the kids, are marvelous. So glad they are adding to your life, no doubt you are doing the same for them all.

Jody July 28, 2014 at 4:01 pm
catly

Just wanted to chime in and say how much I have enjoyed this thread. Thanks @Jody for your lovely blog!

I haven't had a dog since I was a child, growing up on a farm where we had lots of dogs and cats and horses.

I currently have 2 horses, picture in my avatar and two cats. They all really help to keep me going and give me endless hours of enjoyment and love. Yes, even horses can be affectionate and cats are for sure!

I do hope to own a dog again before I die. Maybe in a couple of years as I'm planning to move back to the farm I grew up on and move in with my brother so I'll have some help if I need it…and lots of room for animals!

catly,

Is your name perhaps an indicator of your affection for felines?:)

I've heard horses are wonderful animals, loving and soothing to be around.

I hope you get your dog one day. It may keep your cats on their toes — or vice versa.:)

SSLolly July 28, 2014 at 9:08 pm
Jody
SSLolly

I am surprised that the conversation of emotional support dogs and service animals rarely popup in our conversations. Training a dog to pick up the paper, the mail, my shoes or deliver a note 3 flights down is not something I could have accomplished in my darkest of days. However Pandora (small cattle dog or mini auzzie mix) is now at my side and ready to work as requested. She is great at helping me to find my mom in an overwhelming store, my husband who walks faster than I do in the park, and the car lost in a sea of cars. More regularly she finds the less responsive escaped bassethound or cat with the request "go get …". More importantly is ready for every day; the days we share a pillow, or the days we attempt to move around in the world. She knows the difference between, "walk with me" and "get Halley" She can pick up pencils I drop and deliver it to my lap, or take a note to my husband. Some dogs are able to provide a heads up on environmental triggers, low blood sugar, and eminent seizures. Finding trainers to help train pets for service is difficult and not all pets are trainable. Already trained service dogs are expensive and hard to come by. Books out about training your own service dog are available on Amazon. Also, if children are involved there are books about proper interaction with service dogs. Due to my limitations we keep neighborhood kids on retainer to come by twice a week (sometimes more frequently) to walk, play, and sometimes feed our two dogs, and cat. Sometimes these neighborhood kids also help by watering plants and bring in the mail. On my good days, Pandora is always up for a game of ball, frisby, walk, or just to be my buddy.View attachment 7968 View attachment 7969 View attachment 7970 These animals and kids do not only provide additional love and fun, together they open my world in ways that would otherwise be closed or at least narrowed.

SSLolly,

Sounds like your dogs, and the kids, are marvelous. So glad they are adding to your life, no doubt you are doing the same for them all.

Thanks Jody, I am grateful to find opportunities to engage in my small community.

PNR2008 July 28, 2014 at 9:25 pm
SSLolly July 28, 2014 at 9:30 pm
PNR2008

View attachment 7973

i love the human size photo frame. Beautiful photo, thanks for sharing.

PNR2008 July 28, 2014 at 9:31 pm

This unusually big picture is my dog Ariel. We were both trained for therapy dog assistance and this is our official Cleveland Clinic photo. Only once a week but it gave me confidence to give a little back after not working for over 19 years. She of course helped me the most, my beautiful girl.

SSLolly July 28, 2014 at 10:23 pm

I know what you mean, it is wonderful to be able to make a difference for someone else. With Pandora she is suppose to focus on me and not others when we are out and about. When she is wearing a service vest she is not suppose to socialize but sometimes I will make a deal with people that ask and send her over to say hi, she always comes right back very proud. Sadly, I had to blacken her name marked on her vest because too many people seeing her name would call out her name and attempt to distract. Once we were surrounded by kids who thought she was there to comfort them, it was hard to explain that no she was not able to play with them right now.

Nico July 30, 2014 at 8:14 am
Jody

Nico,

I hope the time comes when you'll be able to have a pet once again. A cat would definitely be a better fit for you, sounds like. They don't need much and their purring is healing.

Thank you, Jody. My last kitty did have some special needs, and I had to keep a close eye on him for a variety of reasons. He needed medication for asthma, which was easy enough to administer. But, because of his needs, and my personal understanding of them & their nuances, he was not able to be left with someone to "cat sit". He was an amazing cat, and I still miss him. I'm writing this only because many people say and believe cats are low maintenance. I say they can be, but it's not always true. Also, many people believe that cats are loners, aloof, can be left alone for days, etc. This is also a myth. If I was away from my cat for even 1/2 hour, when I returned I would be greeted with such yodeling … like wow. If I was away for a few hours, wow, he may as well be able to bark! Thank you again for your story, it's nice to see other members' stories … and photos too!! :-D

Leopardtail August 6, 2014 at 6:20 am

funnily enough I have looked after two cats belonging to other people, both belonging to other people, both for many months, both moggies and both very very affectionate. The only issue I had was being pestered to death when fatigue was very severe but they were otherwise a joy. I have found male cats get more 'give me my space' though.

Carryon August 6, 2014 at 7:12 am

I rescued a lab almost three years ago (or should I say, she rescued me) when I was very sick. I didn't know if it was the right decision because I could barely take care of myself. She had such a large impact on me that I now foster other dogs and currently have two fosters which are looking for homes. I walk them with my three wheel scooter because I can't walk very far. Working with the rescue organization although tough at times has been the most rewarding experience I have ever done. It gives me a reason to get up even on terrible days. It is amazing to watch the dogs as they get rehabilitated and find their new families. Doesn't appear that I can post a picture so you can go to my FB page cover photo to see the dogs.

Jody August 6, 2014 at 9:50 am
Carryon

I rescued a lab almost three years ago (or should I say, she rescued me) when I was very sick. I didn't know if it was the right decision because I could barely take care of myself. She had such a large impact on me that I now foster other dogs and currently have two fosters which are looking for homes. I walk them with my three wheel scooter because I can't walk very far. Working with the rescue organization although tough at times has been the most rewarding experience I have ever done. It gives me a reason to get up even on terrible days. It is amazing to watch the dogs as they get rehabilitated and find their new families. Doesn't appear that I can post a picture so you can go to my FB page cover photo to see the dogs.

Carryon,

It sounds wonderful. The dogs, and the rescue organization are lucky to have you. And you are lucky to have them.:)

It takes a special kind of person to do what you are doing, especially being ill. Well done.:)

Misfit Toy August 6, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I miss my dog. I loved this article. I could see it all, Jody. I live in an apt and couldn't have a dog. I also couldn't afford it if anything went wrong or it became ill. If I had a BF, or husband…I would get one in a New York minute!

Thank you!

Jody August 14, 2014 at 6:20 pm
Misfit Toy

I miss my dog. I loved this article. I could see it all, Jody. I live in an apt and couldn't have a dog. I also couldn't afford it if anything went wrong or it became ill. If I had a BF, or husband…I would get one in a New York minute!

Thank you!

Misfit Toy,

I know, they can be a financial drain. Fortunately, our son is so grateful that we could take Cleo that he contributes to her food costs and if she needs a vet visit or something extra he will cover it because we couldn't do it.

DeGenesis August 16, 2014 at 2:19 am

This article sparked my interest in a long-held love of Labrador Retrievers. I have ASD and am very lonely but I can take care of the dog for sure the best part is I just have to throw to give it exercise. Of course there are training and socializing classes and such but from what I've heard if you are lonely and want a companion you can't go wrong with a pooch.

Jody August 16, 2014 at 6:17 pm
DeGenesis

This article sparked my interest in a long-held love of Labrador Retrievers. I have ASD and am very lonely but I can take care of the dog for sure the best part is I just have to throw to give it exercise. Of course there are training and socializing classes and such but from what I've heard if you are lonely and want a companion you can't go wrong with a pooch.

DeGenesis,

I would have to agree, after my experience with Cleo, that a dog can be a wonderful friend who eases the loneliness.

~Tatty~ August 24, 2014 at 10:17 am

I'm surrounded by my four dogs as I type. They all have to be touching me when they sleep, so I just use them as wrist rests when I'm on the laptop :D

xxRinxx August 25, 2014 at 4:59 pm

My two toy aussies are everything to me<3 My boys keep me active as i can be,(I can't disappoint them by not playing fetch, their sad faces are heart breaking!). Frankly I don't think I could get through this without my dogs. They cuddle up against my legs or under my arms when I'm feeling cruddy and need a nap, they always know when I'm feeling bad, and they never fail to cheer me up when i feel down.
When I'm feeling particularly spry I''ll volunteer at the local animal shelter and those dogs are always happy to have some one to pet and take them on walks, it really motivates me to get out on those days(even if my own dogs get /immensely/ jealous when I get home, hehe).

Jody September 1, 2014 at 6:42 pm
~Tatty~

I'm surrounded by my four dogs as I type. They all have to be touching me when they sleep, so I just use them as wrist rests when I'm on the laptop :D

Tatty,

Sounds like it works just right for all parties concerned.:)

Jody September 1, 2014 at 6:45 pm
xxRinxx

My two toy aussies are everything to me<3 My boys keep me active as i can be,(I can't disappoint them by not playing fetch, their sad faces are heart breaking!). Frankly I don't think I could get through this without my dogs. They cuddle up against my legs or under my arms when I'm feeling cruddy and need a nap, they always know when I'm feeling bad, and they never fail to cheer me up when i feel down.
When I'm feeling particularly spry I''ll volunteer at the local animal shelter and those dogs are always happy to have some one to pet and take them on walks, it really motivates me to get out on those days(even if my own dogs get /immensely/ jealous when I get home, hehe).

xxRinxx,

I know what you mean. There are plenty of days when I would never venture outside, but I don't want to disappoint the dog.:) And I know it's good for me since I am well enough for it and it doesn't make me crash anymore, to get outside and go for a walk. Cleo loves the park which is 10 min. away. I rarely feel like going there but I do it for her … and always am glad I did it because it really is a beautiful little spot. So I owe that to her.:)

liverock September 8, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Jesse the talented Jack Russell, perfect for all those round the house jobs that ME people find so tiring.:);)

http://www.wimp.com/usefultricks/

Jody September 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm

lol Omigosh, Liverock, this dog is great! I need one of those.:)

I shared the video on my facebook:)

liverock September 11, 2014 at 12:42 pm
Jody

lol Omigosh, Liverock, this dog is great! I need one of those.:)

Wait for Son of Jesse, he can do all of that plus the ironing as well.:);)

Jody September 13, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Son of Jesse does better than me.:)

belize44 September 20, 2014 at 10:57 am

My cat is so precious to me because I don't have to take her for walks. When I am doing worse than usual, she will come and lay close to me, purring and gazing at me in concern with those large, gorgeous green eyes. I got her from the pound when she was nine months old, and it's now been 9 years since I brought her into my life. She saves me from isolation while my husband is at work, and carries on conversations with me when I talk to her.

Jody September 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm
belize44

My cat is so precious to me because I don't have to take her for walks. When I am doing worse than usual, she will come and lay close to me, purring and gazing at me in concern with those large, gorgeous green eyes. I got her from the pound when she was nine months old, and it's now been 9 years since I brought her into my life. She saves me from isolation while my husband is at work, and carries on conversations with me when I talk to her.

Belize44,

Sounds like a great comfort and great company. Cats can be very loving. Mine isn't:) but I have had other affectionate tabbies over the years.

Goodness to M.E. September 21, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Thank you so much Jody for sharing such a great story of enlightenment and joy.

After a long time being bedridden and running out of options to have my dog walked by others, the option to re-home him was unbearable as he had sat by my the side all this time and I never felt alone or isolated. Atticus was my best loyal friend and a friend like this is difficult to find and keep when having M.E.

To keep my best friend, like you I slowly, one step at a time commenced walking him to the park 10 minutes from our home, this took many weeks but I had also made a 15 meter lead so he could run around and exercise till we eventually celebrated our arrival onto the park bench where I could lay down and rest while Atticus ran around some more.

We forget sometimes that most tasks in life start and finish with 'one-step-at-a-time', a dose of determination and as always, hope.

The achievements and friendships made along the way not only brighten our day our health improves also.

Jody September 22, 2014 at 5:47 pm
Goodness to M.E.

Thank you so much Jody for sharing such a great story of enlightenment and joy.

After a long time being bedridden and running out of options to have my dog walked by others, the option to re-home him was unbearable as he had sat by my the side all this time and I never felt alone or isolated. Atticus was my best loyal friend and a friend like this is difficult to find and keep when having M.E.

To keep my best friend, like you I slowly, one step at a time commenced walking him to the park 10 minutes from our home, this took many weeks but I had also made a 15 meter lead so he could run around and exercise till we eventually celebrated our arrival onto the park bench where I could lay down and rest while Atticus ran around some more.

We forget sometimes that most tasks in life start and finish with 'one-step-at-a-time', a dose of determination and as always, hope.

The achievements and friendships made along the way not only brighten our day our health improves also.

Goodness to M.E.,

That sounds very much like how I gradually worked up my way to be able to walk Cleo. Seems like everything I've managed to do since I got sick has had to be accomplished by starting with teeny tiny steps and slowly increasing them.

Goodness to M.E. October 21, 2014 at 6:46 pm
Jody

Goodness to M.E.,

That sounds very much like how I gradually worked up my way to be able to walk Cleo. Seems like everything I've managed to do since I got sick has had to be accomplished by starting with teeny tiny steps and slowly increasing them.

Exactly! and it is a shame some here are not willing to try this as a self help option for independence improvement.
M.E. is a multi-facet dis-ease and can only be tackled by one issue at a time, at least in my experience anyway.

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