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Pet Therapy

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Dainty, Jan 28, 2010.

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How do pets factor into your lifestyle management?

  1. My pet(s) have been helpful.

    17 vote(s)
    68.0%
  2. My pet(s) have been unhelpful.

    1 vote(s)
    4.0%
  3. My pet(s) dont influence me much.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. I dont have any pets but Im interested in how they might help.

    4 vote(s)
    16.0%
  5. No pets for me.

    4 vote(s)
    16.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    I'm looking for feedback on how useful companion animals have been for helping to deal with CFS as I consider the possibility for myself. Do any of you with pets consider them to be an important part of dealing with the isolation and emotional difficulties that happen with CFS? Has anyone here taken on a pet specifically for this purpose, and if so what was the result? Has anyone found that their pets require too much energy and thus are actually a hindrance to healing? Post about everything having to do with your pet(s) and lifestyle management with CFS, I want to hear it! :Retro smile:
  2. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    As anyone who has spent 5 minutes with me, virtual or otherwise, will tell you, my little dog is my very best friend. Even when my health was much better my dog(s) were, along with bipeds, my best friends. But, as a single person who lives alone and doesn't get out much at all (at all!) I simply do not know what I would do without the constant loving and merry presence of my little dog.

    I have a friend with me at all times. I am never lonely. I never feel unloved or neglected. I never want for an amusing companion. There is always someone to talk to. And, if I want a kiss or a cuddle all I have to do is ask.

    I make decisions about where I live based largely on the demands of caring for a dog. I need only walk to the end of the corridor in my apt. building and down 1/2 a flight of stairs to let him out in the back yard to potty - he does as I ask so I needn't go into the yard with him but can wait on the step. He has been trained to potty on the lea of a small hill which goes down into a scrubby, little trench so I do not have to pick up after him as none walk there. I also live one block away from an off leash dog beach which allows him to cavort with other little dogs when I can make it down there. When I can't, which is usually, I sometimes resort to rolling a tennis ball in the apt. corridor for him to chase. When I cannot do that, I will ask him to sit out of sight (hiding his eyes, if you will) while I "hide" bits of kibble or popcorn around the studio apt. for him to find. On the days I can do none of this, he deals. The potty trips (3) we have to do, of course, but they are brief and, since I can do them, they are good for me.

    Having had large dogs in the past, I would not recommend them to someone who cannot meet their high exercise needs and desire to travel unless they can afford a dog walker. If you can, no problem. If you cannot, and you really love dogs, very small dogs can be trained to potty in the bathroom on a special pad but I'm not a big fan of that system if you can do anything else. Healthy dogs naturally avoid going to the bathroom in the den so we are asking them to do something they find distasteful. Going potty on a pad on a balcony (made safe from falling!) on a potty pad is fine. But, all that potty stuff aside, a dog really wants to sniff another dogs pee (and bum) from time to time so a trip outside into the big pee ridden world is always good when you can manage it! And, if you do have a tiny dog which spends most of it's life indoors, another dog is a good idea.

    I also think that all dogs, no matter their size or the condition of their person, should be calm, happy and able to pay attention which some people would call well trained. I believe that dogs that are "out of control" feel out of control and that's not a good feeling. Also, dogs involved in complex interdependent relationships with their people - which depends on communication, expectations, challenges, tasks - are happier dogs because they are not bored. There are many things my little guy is asked to do and think about during a day.

    My dog also reminds me how healthy and healing it is to consider the feelings and well being of another sentient creature. I cannot get too wrapped up in me because there is another being here who needs me.

    I'm allergic to dogs, cats, bears... so I have dogs with poodle hair and you will be spared a long post about the glories of living with a cat because I can't :eek:(

    My Dogtor:
    BooOnPorch.jpg
  3. CJB

    CJB Senior Member

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    I simply would not still be alive if not for my little Yorkie, Rosie. When the days were very dark and I was very sick and there were no answers, I figured out how to end my own life, but couldn't figure out what to do with Rose. I couldn't take her life and I couldn't leave her behind.

    She passed away at almost 15 years of age a few years back and I miss her so much. It took three Yorkies to fill the void. I couldn't take care of my dogs without help from my DH. He buys the dogfood and takes them to the vet, etc.

    I'm deathly allergic to cats -- can hardly type the word without itching - admire them from afar. But if I couldn't take care of a small dog, I would want a guinea pig or hamster or gerbil (or a bunny, Denn!) and if I couldn't manage that, maybe a bird, and if not that a goldfish. I kept a gecko named Meathead for 5.5 years since I've been sick. I cried for days when he died.

    It may be the supreme bit of selfishness to need to have an animal companion, I don't know. But I need an animal companion even when I'm healthy and especially since CFS. As Koan said, I'm never lonely, they never make unreasonable demands on me mentally or physically. They have a greater understanding of unconditional love than a majority of humans in my experience. They have been and continue to be my greatest teachers in life.
  4. Denn

    Denn Guest

  5. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    You all are getting me excited about this! :D Keep the posts coming...
  6. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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  7. Kati

    Kati Patient in training

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    I have had for over 15 years. He keeps me company on my pillow- he cuddlies with me during the day and sleeps. My other parrot is a rescue from 2 years ago- someone told me about a parrot that spent his life in a basement with a blanket on top of his cage and I felt sorry and I took him on. He is the funniest bird I know, a good talker and good whistler but not as good of a cuddler. But his "nigh night sweetheart" are priceless and I love him to pieces.

    They can both be brats and restless and screaming, which can be hard at times when I am unwell and I want peace and quiet, and they need food and vet care that is currently too far for me to go to. Cages maintenance can be an issue and their diet requirement is not the same as buying the one bag of food for the pooch- but I am happy I got my companions and I don't regret it a minute.

    Kati
  8. Robin

    Robin Guest

    Beautifully said!

    As someone who used to (briefly) volunteer in rescue, a good home where an animal is loved is worth its weight in gold!

    That being said, I just want to address some of the more practical aspects of pet ownership and CFS. It seems like you're thinking about that already, Dainty! Animals need attention, feeding, exercise and must be cleaned up after. Generally, the larger the animal the more work it is: a large dog will take more time and energy to care for than a hamster. Whatever you get consider what will happen to it during times of bad health? Do you have a person that can lend a hand? If it doesn't work out, what would your contingency be?

    The other consideration is cost. Besides the costs of pet + accessories (toys, treats, grooming supplies) the big costs are food and veterinary care. Routine care for any animal can cost quite a bit (even birds and bunnies) and emergency care is very expensive. As the animal ages, it might accrue chronic age related conditions and need medicine, special food, and more frequent exams and procedures.

    I have a large 80 pound dog. He's very old, and has arthritis. His food costs around $50/month, his pain medication and supplements are another $100. I can't bathe him at home so he either gets a DIY bath at the groomers when for it, which is $17, or I pay them to do it, which is $45. That's every six weeks. Every six months he gets an exam and blood work, $150, and once a year shots/heartworm test $125, and heartworm preventative (I forgot how much that costs). See, it adds up!! He's totally worth it though. I keep little stash of cash in case of emergencies.

    He's totally worth it to me!!! I'm not sure how much longer he'll be with me so every day is a blessing. He sleeps with me, hangs out at my feet when I watch TV, follows me around like a lamb. I used to be able to walk him but my health is bad this year so he gets exercised in the yard twice a day via frisbee. When I got him I was able to take care of all of his needs but recently I've had to ask for help with baths, cleaning up the yard, and grooming sometimes. My family LOVES him so they don't mind.

    Good luck to you and keep us posted.
  9. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    I have definitely thought long and hard about it...been doing research into the possibility of getting a dog for over a year now and would not get one unless I were certain its energy requirements were low, other people have committed to regularly walk him/her for me, etc. I haven't even thought it was a serious possibility for me until recently when some things began falling into place. I'm taking things slow and making sure that it's something that I can handle at every step, and my intention is that I would only purchase from someone where returning the dog for a full refund was included in the agreement in case it doesn't work out.

    While I love the idea of getting a dog from a shelter and I think that's a great thing to do, it is not feasible for me right now. However I have made contact with a local breeder who is very careful about placing her dogs, and I am confident that she would not release a dog to me that she did not think would work out, knowing my circumstances. I've known for some time that I would need a hairless dog (both because of an allergy and I need the warmth) and I have had my heart set on a Xolo (Mexican Hairless) ever since I read about how they were historically used for pain relief and as bedwarmers and continue to be used for pain relief today. The breed itself tends to need a lot of mental stimulation and physical exercise, so I questioned the breeder on whether or not there were any Xolos at all that were naturally the "couch potato" that would match my lifestyle and needs, and she said she actually had a few in mind! Adult dogs, of course. I certainly do not have the energy to train a puppy at the moment!

    It seems like overnight after a year of researching and thinking about it and dreaming about it everything's coming together. All practical needs and care has been resolved through delegation* and theoretically all that's left is to make sure my situation is satisfactory to the breeder, make sure I don't react to the dog or chemicals on the dog (that's a big one) and then chose the one and bring him/her home. Theoretically, that is. In practice it will probably be weeks or months, and it's still possible it won't work out. But I wanted to hear about others' experiences to make sure I know everything I can going into this arrangement.

    Thank you, everyone, for your replies so far!

    Edit: Forgot to say, it's a lot easier because my family, who lives next door, has had a dog for several years now, so it isn't too much more work for them to take care of the practical needs of another dog. That helps a lot. :)
  10. liverock

    liverock Senior Member

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    We are low maintenance, dont need taking for walks, will sleep more than you and as you can see we like being on the computor too....


    [​IMG]
  11. talkingfox

    talkingfox Senior Member

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    My big bubba of a Norwegian Forest Cat has been the best of helps to me during this last crash. He makes me laugh all the time (he really is a big dork) and is unstinting with the love. There have been some studies that show that the sound of a purring cat lowers problem blood pressure and stabilizes mood. If that's the case our neighbors should be feeling good too...his purr is HUGE. lol

    Good points on care costs though ,Robin. A recent emergency vet bill for Mousse ran over 300$ for something pretty routine and his food runs 50$ a month, flea treatments another 20...not cheap, but worth it and more.
  12. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    Want to echo what others have said about cost. My dog is nearly a year late for his rabies shot but I have had no money. Not a good situation.

    Also, things can change outside of our control and we are not always able to adjust as easily as healthy people can. For instance, there have been coyote attacks on dogs where I live near a green belt in a big city. This means I cannot simply let my little dog out in the yard any longer as it connects with gardens which could provide a thoroughfare for coyotes. I must now take him out front, on leash, on the sidewalk. Much harder! Much!

    Still worth it because he is worth anything but it's much harder.
  13. Denn

    Denn Guest

    Liverock, thanks for the picture. What a cool cat! Kittehs rule supreme! And they know it, too!!

    Dainty, there are a million good reasons for not doing anything. Sure, be practical. An ill person who has limited assistance would be foolish to adopt a big dog. As a rule, dogs require more care and attention than kittehs. But dogs have other advantages as companions and there are a lot of adorable, small, smart dogs who need good homes. Do listen to your heart. If you are open to having a pet, believe me, one will come hopping your way and you will recognize her when you see her, too.

    Good luck, I hope you find the perfect furry or feathery companion.

    Denn
  14. Hysterical Woman

    Hysterical Woman Senior Member

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    Some no kill shelters offer a foster program where you can take in an animal and they will help with vet check ups, etc. We have a local shelter that does that. You might want to check around.

    HW
  15. liverock

    liverock Senior Member

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    They sure do !:Retro smile:

    [​IMG]
  16. creekfeet

    creekfeet Sockfeet

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    Eastern High Sierra
    A social worker suggested that we register our dogs as service dogs after seeing how they respond to me and to my (also ME-suffering) child. They really do help. They and the cats sense when we're in pain and give us love. Every day, feeding time and walkies are huge, draining efforts, but it's so worth it.
  17. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    I don't know about the laws elsewhere, but in the USA in order to register as a service animal your dog (or cat, or other animal) must be specifically trained to do at least two things that directly help your disability. For example, using a dog as a living heating pad to relieve fibro pain wouldn't count, but if the dog is well-trained to come and lay down on you at a command and stay there until you ask him/her to get up, and this action helps relieve fibro pain, then that's one thing that does count. Besides two specific trained skills that directly aid a disability, service dogs have to pass tests of behaving extraordinarily well in public and being non-agressive even under situations that would cause other dogs to be agressive. Someone else has to certify that the dog is, indeed, ready to be licensed as a service animal and only then may it be registered as such.

    A year ago I started out by looking into a service dog, and while I still this it would be helpful for me one of these days I currently am not up for the intensive training and testing. So my plan is to start out with a pet, and if it turns into a service dog one of these days, then that's great, and if it doesn't, that's fine too. I might end up training the dog I get to becoem my service dog or sometime down the road I might get a different dog as a service dog and then this one would keep tha tone company. Lots of options...we'll see what happens.
  18. Gerwyn

    Gerwyn Guest

    My pet cat socs was a faithful companion following me everywhere and a literal life saver
  19. spindrift

    spindrift Plays With Voodoo Dollies

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    Dainty,

    If you are not sure, try fostering a pet from a no kill shelter first. That will give you a good idea if you are able to keep
    up with taking care of it. It also gives you the possibility to see what pet you might like best. If you get an older
    pet they are easier to keep up with unlike younger ones that tend to be too perky at times.

    Another good thing is to get a veterinary pet insurance. Lots of shelters offer a first month free when you adopt
    a pet. Or you can just get it on you own. I use VPI insurance for my cat and I am very glad that I have it. It just
    helps so much when they get sick and ring up giant vet bills.
  20. Sunday

    Sunday Senior Member

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    Liverock, that picture is classic!

    As far as pets go, I may have an ideal situation: I live on a piece of land with some people who have two dogs and a cat. They are friendly anyway, but since I started giving them treats they have been friendlier. So I have many of the benefits of owning pets but few of the cares (I take care of them while the owners are away, but since we're in a situation where they all can run free, this isn't too arduous)

    I just looked at that picture again and it made me smile again.

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