1. Patients launch $1.27 million crowdfunding campaign for ME/CFS gut microbiome study.
    Check out the website, Facebook and Twitter. Join in donate and spread the word!
AVIVA Semi-Finals: National ME/FM Action Network is competing for $100,000
The National ME/FM Action Network in Canada is competing for $100,000 for biomedical research of ME and FM in the Aviva Community Fund contest. With thanks to all who helped, they made it through the first round of voting into the Semi-Finals.
Discuss the article on the Forums.

ME/CFS and the Magic of the Canine Factor

Discussion in 'Phoenix Rising Articles' started by Jody, Jul 16, 2014.

  1. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes:
    552
    Canada
    Jody submitted a new blog post:

    ME/CFS and the Magic of the Canine Factor

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

    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.


    [​IMG]
    Cleo

    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?



    Phoenix Rising is a registered 501 c.(3) non profit. We support ME/CFS and NEID patients through rigorous reporting, reliable information, effective advocacy and the provision of online services which empower patients and help them to cope with their isolation.

    There are many ways you can help Phoenix Rising to continue its work. If you feel able to offer your time and talent, we could really use some more authors, proof-readers, fundraisers, technicians etc. We’d also love to expand our Board of Directors. So, if you think you can help in any way then please contact Mark through the Forums.

    And don’t forget: you can always support our efforts at no cost to yourself as you shop online! To find out more, visit Phoenix Rising’s Donate page by clicking the button below.

    [​IMG]
    Continue reading the Original Blog Post
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2014
    SSLolly, waiting, rosie26 and 5 others like this.
  2. SilverbladeTE

    SilverbladeTE Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,149
    Likes:
    1,720
    Somewhere near Glasgow, Scotland
    wouldn't be without my pooch, love her to bits :)
     
    rosie26 likes this.
  3. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes:
    552
    Canada
    Silverblade TE,

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

    AndyPandy Making the most of it

    Messages:
    255
    Likes:
    531
    Australia
    Great story. Thanks for brightening my day :)
     
    SSLolly likes this.
  5. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes:
    552
    Canada
    AndyPandy,

    I'm so glad you liked it.:)
     
  6. JT1024

    JT1024 Senior Member

    Messages:
    559
    Likes:
    365
    Massachusetts
    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
     
    rosie26 and taniaaust1 like this.
  7. jimmy86

    jimmy86

    Messages:
    47
    Likes:
    34
    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 ;)
     
    rosie26 likes this.
  8. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes:
    552
    Canada
    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.
     
  9. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes:
    552
    Canada
    Jimmy,

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

    Keela Too Senior Member

    Messages:
    252
    Likes:
    577
    N.Ireland
    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/
     
    SSLolly, rosie26 and JT1024 like this.
  11. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes:
    552
    Canada
    Sounds great, Keela Too.:)
     
    Keela Too likes this.
  12. Mia Dit

    Mia Dit

    Messages:
    18
    Likes:
    38
    Kansas, USA
    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.
     
    rosie26 likes this.
  13. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes:
    552
    Canada
    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.:)
     
  14. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1

    Messages:
    8,234
    Likes:
    5,200
    Sth Australia
    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.
     
    rosie26 and catly like this.
  15. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes:
    552
    Canada
    taniaaust1,

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

    whodathunkit Senior Member

    Messages:
    440
    Likes:
    267
    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.
     
    rosie26 and catly like this.
  17. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes:
    552
    Canada
    Whodathunkit,

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

    Gingergrrl Community Support Volunteer

    Messages:
    2,166
    Likes:
    3,630
    USA
    @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!)
     
    rosie26 likes this.
  19. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes:
    552
    Canada
    Gingergrrl,

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

    liverock Senior Member

    Messages:
    522
    Likes:
    444
    UK
    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.

    benghazi dog 005-2-2.jpg


    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.:)

    .
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
    SSLolly, jimells and rosie26 like this.

See more popular forum discussions.

Share This Page