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Pets for chronic illness. Has anyone benefited from them?

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Ambrosia_angel, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

    Sth Australia
    Cats I think are better pets for sick people as unlike dogs

    1/ They dont require walking
    2/ They are less noisy. No loud barking
    3/ You can leave them for a day or two (with food and water of course) and they wont care much as they can also be solitary.
    4/ Require less training then a dog (you dont have to take them to puppy school or need to socialise with other dogs and people).
    5/ Many cats (not kittens) almost sleep all day (perfect for a person in bed).

    but if your mum doesnt like cats and she will needing to look after it sometimes, I think then a cat would be a bad idea in that case.

    I noticed a couple of people mentioned an issue with cats waking them up. A cat can be easily trained not to do that. I always train any cats I have not to do that (thou believe me they will try that one at some point as cats just love to try to wrap their owners around their fingers or rather little paws one could say).

    I have like what I call the "naughty room" for cats. Some nights spent in there cause of waking me up (any meow or noise made which wakes me out.. the cat will be instantly told off and picked up and put into the naughty room for the rest of the night). They quickly stop doing that when they realise they dont get their own way from doing that, they arent stupid. My cats know they can only make noise if I have the bedroom light on and are awake.

    The cat I have now was quite funny about this. After getting into trouble a few times over it (3-5 times), she then tried the next night coming in and doing the faintest tiniest meow by my bed (to test me out). She's never done it since she find out it did. I dont care if the meow is faint.. do not wake me up!! (most cats can be taught to stop doing it in less then week thou I guess if one has had a cat which has always been allowed to wake you up, it could take longer for them to be taught to not do it).

    When she knew not to meow to wake me, she then tried the walking back and forth over me thing when I was asleep to get my attention but quickly found out not to do that either (she only tried that the once). Now she's a perfect cat (and will sleep the whole time Im sleeping and not disturb me in any way).


    As Ema said, pet fostering can be good.. the bonus being if you get sicker you can just give the pet back.

    There is also the option of having dogs for very short periods for one of the agencies who home pets for people when they go away (you'd also get money for doing this!! its not bad money.. and all the pet stuff eg food etc is supplied.. well was for the couple of agencies I looked at). With that.. most places have a meet and greet to make sure the person is going to get on with the dog first and one can select what dogs you want to take care of eg small.


    Wild pets are a good option. I made a frog pond.. and just got some tabpoles and got much joy out of that (hint if one gets a couple from a petshop, thou they cost more, they are more friendly and will come up and eat for fish food.. of cause make sure you get local frogs from a petstore if you plan to stick them in an outdoor pond).

    I want to set up a wild bird nesting box one day and put in it a cam so I can watch the chicks. I like to watch the birds outside my window which are attracted by my pond.

    I currently have a couple of tabpoles inside.. its been fun watching those.. ones today finally a frog (well a wee tiny bit of tail left) but was up sitting on the rock for the first time today. (only thing with these is getting crickets unless you have a lot of suitable bugs outside).

    The pets I have (I foster a cat for a rescue org) and my outdoor pond and the 2 tabpoles/frog .. stop me from feeling so lonely so they are quite emotionally beneficial for me. They also give me interest in something here at home. When you are stuck at home you need to create interests in your life for a decent quality of life, having a pet can do that.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
    Ambrosia_angel likes this.
  2. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem All Good Things Must Come to an End

    Any animal, but especially older ones, can develop health problems that require medication/treatment one or more times/day. If you are going to get a pet, be sure that you or someone in your life can do this.

    I dearly miss my parents' cat; but dealing with her health issues, along with theirs and my own, was a trial during her final weeks.
    Ambrosia_angel likes this.
  3. Ambrosia_angel

    Ambrosia_angel Senior Member

    I was actually looking at fostering. Have no idea if I'd be suitable though. I'm guess when fostering you have train the dog as well because they are sometimes rescue dogs. I don't think I'd cope with pets coming in and out but it would definitely be a good way to know if a pet long term is good or not.

    The frog pond sounds really fun. I've actually had a few frogs in my garden because we live not to far from water areas.

    I'm going to still see if I can persue a long term pet. Everything I've read about them is so positive. This illness has isolated me a lot and I know I need human contact which but its really hard to find support groups, meet ups or part time courses so you meet people with common interests.

    Thank you everyone
  4. jen1177


    If it wasn't for my pets, I wouldn't have a reason to breathe.

    I recommend adopting an older dog or a cat. I've had my cat for 7 years now. I just rescued/adopted my dog 6 months ago. She's a year old and quite a handful. I didn't plan on getting a dog but it just happened (I couldn't find a home/shelter for her and had to either take her myself or let her suffer neglect with former owner). I don't recommend adopting a young dog. They are a lot to deal with for someone with CFS. But I love her and I am making it work. Luckily it is coinciding with improvements in my condition. (see my profile) I've had some rough days when I had bronchitis or migraines or flaring or whatever and taking care of her was difficult...but I MAKE myself do what needs to be done. I found a strength there that I didn't know existed.

    I live in an apartment and don't have a yard so I have to walk my dog every day. I'm finding this very beneficial for me. I may be more tired and worn out but I also feel reborn. I'm getting out of the house and meeting other dog-walkers. I just feel like I'm more alive now. I'm more social, more active, more engaged in life. I'm amazed at all the people who stop and chat with me about my dog, wanting to meet her and pet her, talk about their own dogs, etc. I tend to isolate myself so this has been very healthy for me.

    I actually am getting physically stronger simply from walking everyday now. I can feel my back muscles and leg muscles are simply stronger. I can actually see the muscle definition in my calves.

    In the back of my mind...yes I know I will have to eventually deal with my pets dying. My cat helped me get through the death of my first dog (my soulmate) and I think my current dog will help me get through the eventual death of my cat. I don't expect any of this any time soon but it is something I think about sometimes. My human family... they are all dysfunctional neurotic selfish children. Useless. I've never felt loved or accepted or valued by them. My animals make my life worth it. I get out of bed in the morning because I love them and they love me. Without them my life would be nothing but empty lonely pointlessness. It would just be me alone with my body that causes me so much pain, illness, fatigue, etc. Like I said before...I wouldn't have a reason to breath.

    Just wanted to share my experience with you. Maybe it will help you decide what to do. Good luck whatever you decide.
  5. Keela Too

    Keela Too Sally Burch

    A lot depends on energy and resources. I love having my dogs and I do a bit of agility with them from a mobility scooter. Here's a wee video of us today:

    However animals can be demanding, and I have a lot of support within the family to care for the dogs. My daughter also drove me out today to have my minute of madness in the ring.... Finn (in the video)is only 14months and this was only his second time attempting a course.... we've both a lot to learn!!

    PS I also blog about agility here:
  6. Raindrop

    Raindrop Senior Member

    I can't say enough about the emotional benefits of having a dog in my case. I wanted a big dog my
    entire life and got her only a few years before becoming sick. Sometimes I wonder if there is a link.
    I think she had Lyme and I do as well. However, words cannot express just HOW much I loved her.
    She was my reason for living at some points in the last several years, until she died a few years ago.
    I am still not over the loss; I still feel her absence so much. She was an exceptional companion
    and soul mate ; the love of my life.

    I want another so much now, and just can't see how I will
    do it in an apartment with not much land around close by to walk. I struggled HORRIBLY in the last few years of
    her life, to care for she and I both . (My dog also had a multitude of health problems). I was constantly
    trying to find volunteer help. But she gave me a purpose and I felt a higher power had given us to one
    another - the two of us nursing and caring for one another and so incredibly bonded.

    When you are all
    alone and/or sick, there is nothing like an animal who is there for you all day and night - whenever you are low
    or lonely or sad about your condition. The love she gave me was irreplaceable. I also appreciated
    the levity and laughter! Animals are fascinating and amusing and wonderful creatures!!!
    There is something else.....I felt that having my dog was very "GROUNDING". It is hard to
    explain, but it was like having her presence, petting her, attending to her could just do this
    wonderful took me completely AWAY from all the worries and stress and I was
    just 100% with her. It was a very fantastic stress reliever.

    I just know
    that I can't get another dog (I am a dog person) right now and would need someone I live with
    to help do the walking and work and even to take her to the Vet. STill, there isn't a single
    day that goes by that I don't think about the "how can I make this happen again?"
    For anyone with ME/CFS, I would recommend giving it a
    lot of thought for sure. It is such a big step and you DO have to consider that you may need help
    on a physical level. The emotional benefits, however, are truly fantastic.
  7. Countrygirl

    Countrygirl Senior Member


    Beautifully expressed,Raindrop, and so true. I had a similar relationship with my lovely, silky,red, long-haired dachshund. I found it devastating to lose her as we were together for about 17 years.

    Interesting that your companion was ill too. So was mine for about 16 years of her life. Eventually, the vet diagnosed her with 'doggy ME' and she said whatever I had the dog had too. Now this raises another question: can we pass on our illness to our pets, or they to us? One scientist told me this is probably so.

    Has anyone else found that the mammals we share our life with can also develop a similar condition? I know horses do, of course, but what about our cats and dogs? Should we bear this in mind when considering getting a four-legged companion? Horrid thought, I know.

    Ambrosia_angel and Raindrop like this.
  8. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem All Good Things Must Come to an End

    Do you happen to have any references to this handy? I do recall reading something about it once a few years ago.
    Ambrosia_angel likes this.
  9. Countrygirl

    Countrygirl Senior Member

    A doctor-friend of mine described how horses suffered from an ME-type condition in a TV documentary that was produced and shown many years ago in the '90s. When we speak, I will ask her if she can recall where the information came from.

    I know I read in veterinary scientific papers that a number of dogs in particular developed what we would view as an ME-type condition after receiving their vaccinations, especially following the third one. The papers explained that the vaccine manufacturers did not take sufficient care to ensure that animal retroviruses were not transferred to vaccines during manufacture. They said that it was much less likely to occur in the production of human vaccines as greater precautions were implemented. I am sorry but I did not keep the references,but they must still be available.My aunt's dog suffered a similar demise following a vaccination and the vet took great interest in the connection between vaccines and chronic, or, in the case of my aunt's lab, fatal consequences that he produced a paper on it. I will ask if my aunt remembers where it was published.

    I have been told by a scientist that I am a danger to any animal I keep as they would be likely to develop either ME or cancer. So far: my dog had 'doggy ME' ; my cat has just died of cancer; a friend who shared a kitchen and bathroom with me over a number of years when I was severely ill, developed ME at 72 and another died of cancer and leukaemia. Coincidence?.............perhaps.

  10. Raindrop

    Raindrop Senior Member

    Thanks, Countrygirl.
    Ah....a long, silky haired daschund!! I have thought about getting one, only realize I would have
    to lift the little dog up all the time. I have POTS. Did you ever find this to be a problem??
    Or the back issues with your breed of dog and getting up on your couch or bed?
    VERY very interesting thought about whether we could get the "ME" from our animals!!!!
    Have to look into this. I know a scientist who knows a lot about ME and neuro immune illnesses
    and that person advised NOT to get a Cat as cats carry a retrovirus and we could be suseptible.
    Maybe same here?? We should try to look into this important question.

    I am so sorry about your loss. I have all the empathy in the world.
    Ambrosia_angel and Countrygirl like this.
  11. Raindrop

    Raindrop Senior Member

    I SO related to what you wrote. I know what you mean about pets giving a reason to exist.
    I also know how hard it was for my dog's entire life time (long) to have to have a (BIG) dog in an
    apartment the ENTIRE time!!! I used to site my experience to people who (are healthy) and say
    "they just can't have a dog in an apartment". In my view of things, if you want something BAD enough
    (baring some of us who are so incapacitated) you can do it!! I surely did, and even did it very sick.
    Also moved countless times to places I wouldn't choose otherwise, in order to be able to
    keep her. (When I got my dog as a puppy I was not "ill"....low energy but not "sick"....then a few years later
    I had to stop working) Even NOW (when I am far sicker) I STILL think endlessly about how I can
    have another dog (large or small) in an apt.....about how I could come up with the $ for vet bills
    and help.....Why? Because she gave me that "reason to breathe" - reason to get up in the morning
    and made my life feel there was a purpose. Also, some of you have mentioned dog walks.
    Although these would have to be VERY short now, I yearn for that socialization. I used to meet
    ALL of my friends through their dogs!!! I miss that SO much!! I just know that I have to have
    another dog, but now is not exactly the time. Yet I feel that I just can't leave this earth without
    doing so....
    Ambrosia_angel likes this.
  12. Wilted_Iris


    They are the most significant source of daily joy and my girls (3 Chihuahua's) make me giggle with their antics. My husband does feed/bathe them, I help
    Dry when I'm able (they weigh roughly 3 lbs each) Also, as unrealistic as it may appear, Race Track Greyhounds rescues are wonderful & calm pets. They get by with a few slow walks a day and sleep the rest of the time plus they are almost hairless & goofie. Hope your mom comes around.
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  13. SSLolly


    Ambrosia YES!!! i do have a service animal and she is a wonderful addition to my life. I wrote about her this afternoon and posted photos as a comment to Jody's article titled: ME/CFS and the Magic of the Canine Factor. Good luck, and for every one that thinks they are too sick, maybe so but my neighborhood kids are lining up for 1 hour long twice a week job of walking, playing, and sometimes feeding my animals. I keep someone on retainer year-round so we have help and a routine in place that can be augmented as needed.

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