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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

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    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.
    liverock and rosie26 like this.
  2. jimells

    jimells Senior Member

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    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, waiting, SSLolly and 3 others like this.
  3. Nico

    Nico Senior Member

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    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
    SSLolly and rosie26 like this.
  4. BeBe

    BeBe

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    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.
    Nico, SSLolly and catly like this.
  5. SSLolly

    SSLolly

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    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. DSC_0175.JPG IMG_0550.jpg IMG_1651.jpg 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.
    Nico and catly like this.
  6. catly

    catly Senior Member

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    outside of NYC
    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!
    SSLolly likes this.
  7. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    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.
    jimells and Nico like this.
  8. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    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.
    Nico likes this.
  9. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    BeBe

    You sound like a great cat lady. :)
    JT1024 likes this.
  10. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    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.
    JT1024 and SSLolly like this.
  11. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    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.:)
    catly and SSLolly like this.
  12. SSLolly

    SSLolly

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    Thanks Jody, I am grateful to find opportunities to engage in my small community.
    Jody likes this.
  13. PNR2008

    PNR2008 Senior Member

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  14. SSLolly

    SSLolly

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    i love the human size photo frame. Beautiful photo, thanks for sharing.
    Jody likes this.
  15. PNR2008

    PNR2008 Senior Member

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    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.
    Jody, Nico and SSLolly like this.
  16. SSLolly

    SSLolly

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    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.
  17. Nico

    Nico Senior Member

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    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
    Jody likes this.
  18. Leopardtail

    Leopardtail Senior Member

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    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.
  19. Carryon

    Carryon Mike Munoz

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    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.
    catly and PNR2008 like this.
  20. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    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.:)

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