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Julie  Stachowiak, Ph.D.

Dogs and Multiple Sclerosis

By June 28, 2011

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I have the utmost respect for service dogs of all kinds. I know that there are many people with MS that have balance dogs - dogs that are large enough (for instance, Great Danes) to provide a little stability when a person is getting up from a seated position or needs a little help steadying themselves while walking or standing. There are also many other ways that dogs can help us when we need a little (or more) assistance with daily living. (For more information, read Balance Dogs for Multiple Sclerosis).

In fact, an organization called msbeyondmeds was started by a mother and daughter team who want to "open a dialogue" among people with MS, our docs and those close to us about the benefits of service dogs. They also want to improve access to these dogs by convincing government agencies and insurance companies that service dogs really do improve the quality of life of people with MS. Check out their website for all sorts of service dog info.

However, I believe that even dogs that aren't trained as service animals are therapeutic and beneficial to people with MS. Recently I decided that our family will be getting a dog. Two dogs, actually. In my younger years, I really enjoyed training dogs for obedience trials and I have been waiting until my twins were old enough to appreciate a family pet (although I have no delusions about them actually taking care of the dogs on a consistent basis) before we even thought about getting a dog.

I have decided that now is the time. The girls are in school, and I would love some company on my long walks, as well as encouragement to get moving on the days that parts of me want to stay put. I also find the training process therapeutic. It takes me out of my head, so to speak, as I focus on doggy motivation and logic. When I commune with dogs, I take a mental break from the tingling feet, the shaking hands, the crushing fatigue and the myriad other MS symptoms that are part of my life.

So, I've got my name in for two Basenji puppies that have not yet been conceived. If all goes according as anticipated with the planned breeding, my puppies will come to live with us in early Spring. I have to tell you, I'm beyond excited.

Now, I know there are plenty of you who have dogs that make your days a little better. So, whether you have a service dog or just a four-legged pal, purebreds or mutts, one doggy or a whole pack, let's hear from you. What kind of dog do you have? How long have you had your dog? I want to know how your dog helps you feel good. Maybe you will help someone make the decision to bring a new member into their family.

June 28, 2011 at 7:37 pm
(1) Matt says:

I have a dachshund named Kody that is absolutely the most important part of my support system. He keeps me feeling loved. The amazing thing about dogs is that they don’t care that you have MS, they love you just as much.

Kody also keeps me challenged and forces me to fight. I want to be able to take care of him for the duration of his life and I make decisions accordingly. He makes me have a more long term view when I just want to give up.

Also he’s a bit of a special needs dachshund who can get very scared and very excitable. I have given us both a good life using positive training methods but I don’t think anyone else could deal with him. So it’s important to me to continue to take care of him.

I know that many people with much more severe MS symptoms than I have dogs, so I think even after Kody I will try to have a dog for the rest of my life, if possible. Although I would probably work through a service dog place next time to get a good dog for a disabled person and to know the dog would have a support system as well if things get bad for me.

I’m going to look at msbeyondmeds because it sounds like a very cool organization.

June 29, 2011 at 12:33 am
(2) Nick "could be good could be bad" says:

I have 2 dogs, a 7 year old Aussie terrior and a 6 month old whippet. The whippet being a “I feel bad purchase”. I would be lost without them.
My diagnosis is only 12 months old but things are galloping along. As a result I find myself stuck in bed a bit of late. But when then pains at it’s worst and I want to rip my face off. There they are ready to come and lounge all over me.
No questions about where does it hurt, or would you like a drink, can I help you up. Just lots of love and a lick of the face to distract me. Way better pain killer than any of that group of boxes in the draw.
Don’t get me wrong love my human carers and what they do for me, but none of them will wag their tails when I come through the door.
Thanks Julie for making me remember these important members of my care team.

June 29, 2011 at 4:58 am
(3) Terri says:

I decided on getting my first pup when I was told by my neurologist that I would not likely be returning to work because of the specific symptoms of my MS so this is when I decided on a miniature schnauzer puppy. A year later we adopted a 7 year old long haired dachshund. We then fostered a couple of dogs and ended up adopting one of them! We now have 3 dogs of our own and are presently fostering a sweet boy who will soon be up for adoption. All of this time with my amazing dogs has me appreciating what I DO have…and less on what I don’t have because of my MS. My dogs ensure that I get up each and every day, rain or shine, and take them out for a walk. I am happy and fit – despite my MS. And if I do have a bad MS day…my dogs are understanding and non judging and we just take it a bit more slowly. I can’t imagine my life without my sweet dogs!!

June 29, 2011 at 6:17 am
(4) Joanne Gruskin says:

I can’t thank you enough for recognizing our work and mentioning us. First and foremost, we love dogs. Neither Liz nor I has been without a dog for more than a few months at a time. When Liz and her sister and brother were growing up, we always had 3 Dobermans at a time–3 kids in 4 years, 3 dogs, what a crazy house we lived in.

We know that having a dog contributes immeasurably to your quality of life, whether you have MS or not. We’re focusing on specially trained service dogs because they can do so much more for the person with MS. Check out or website msbeyondmeds.com or find us on Facebook at MS Beyond Meds. You’ll gain a new understanding of how much service dogs really can do.

Specifically, we are planning a research project to prove that service dogs enhance the quality of life for MS patients. (Liz is a medical researcher, having done both qualitative and quantitative research for 20 years.) We want the results of our research to influence the medical community and providers of medical insurance. With real numbers, we know we can achieve our goals.

Dogs rock!

Joanne Gruskin

June 29, 2011 at 6:49 am
(5) Bryan says:

I have two lovable mystery mutts. They bring much joy into my life. The stress of the day seems to melt away when I get home and they greet me.

June 29, 2011 at 10:02 am
(6) Beverly says:

I love the term ‘mystery mutts’.

June 29, 2011 at 11:25 am
(7) Beverly says:

I was diagnosed with MS in 1997. I am still mobile. I have had a gradual increase over the years with tingling in hands and feet, and balance. When I arrived at the 10yr. mark it has gotten progressively worse. Balance, tingling, pain, depression, and worst of all cognative. We adopted a Westie in 1996 when he was 7mo. old. Our children were young aldults and leaving the nest. We felt it was time to add a pet to our family. I am so happy we did, because he is the JOY! of my life. Of course my family is NO. 1, but he holds a close second. He offers unconditional love, gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning, he is my fluffy white pillow to cry on when I am feeling sorry for myself, and he is a good walking partner. When I first had him I did take him for training. He learned the basic commands given by me which I still use today. Of course the terrior in him takes over when he sees a squirrel. He does know his boundries and stops when told to. I do believe that my Westie knows I have a chronic illness and that is why he is always at my side. My husband refers to him as ‘MBD’, mommies boy dog. That is fine with me.

June 29, 2011 at 11:42 am
(8) Mia says:

I love my two Boxers, Mia and Jack, cat, Bubu and bird, Duckie. Without the support they provide everyday, I would not be a happy person. They are my best friends and I know I can always count on them to provide me a smile

June 29, 2011 at 11:47 am
(9) Jane says:

I have 3 dogs. Two Labradors and one Pit bull. They motivate me to get up and get moving, when i am out walking in the woods with them I feel such a strong connection to a pack and nature, at these moments I am able to forget about MS. Unconditional love and protection I could not imagine my life without dogs.

June 29, 2011 at 11:51 am
(10) Carol says:

When I was first diagnosed, I had a dog that went blind due to diabetes. We did not know she was ill but she taught me so much about being brave with an illness and disability. She took her her two injections each day and went about her business-no problem. I adored that dog! We now have two dogs that we dearly love. Cannot imagine my life without them!

June 29, 2011 at 11:53 am
(11) Angela says:

Diagnosis June 2010 after ON for the second time at age 49. Woke on the Sat following dx and declared I want a dog! Our precious Jericho had passed 4 years ago after 17 years and it was time. We adopted a 5 month old Lab/Golden mix and named her Harlee. The vet told me that Harlee was the best thing I could have done for my immune system and he was so right. We got Harlee a new puppy for Christmas, a Lab/Hound mix that we named Chloe. They are best of friends and the best dogs in the world. I have studied a tremendous amount on training my babies and they are both wonderful dogs. My focus is no longer MS. In fact when my symtoms get worse I focus on them and all is well. Without them I really don’t think I would have survived the DX mentally. I think I would have crumbled but no time for self pity……my babies need me. And when I need them, they are right there with plenty of kisses. When I need to rest, they are both by my side for as long as I need them to be. I am so blessed. Thanks for the oportunity to share how important our pets are to us MS-ers. XOXOXO

June 29, 2011 at 11:57 am
(12) Leslie says:

I have a dog named Tigger. He’s a mixed breed that I found when he was 6 mths old. Now he’s 8 years old and I can’t imagine my life without him. He makes me laugh, understands when I’m sad, and is the best dog you could possibly ask for. He was very upset last summer when I had an exacerbation and had to use a cane. He barely ate during those 2 weeks, even though I would still take him out for walks. It’s amazing how much they relate to us and depend on us. I like to be happy and healthy for myself, but also for him!!

June 29, 2011 at 12:05 pm
(13) chris murphy says:

ADOPT dont shop for your newest furbaby!! shelter dogs (and cats) need your love just as much as you need theirs. and they will be grateful beyond anything words could describe. thousands of dogs are put to sleep every day in our country… i have ms and i have two furbabies and i dont know what i’d do without their adorable antics and unconditional love. want a new best friend or two or three… visit your local shelter today :)

June 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm
(14) Gale says:

Oh, basenjis! They’re great dogs! At least, the breed as a whole is!

June 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm
(15) louise mary palacios says:


June 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm
(16) Barbara says:

Following a diagnosis in March with the typical ‘new’ symptoms of numbness, dizziness and tingling coupled with the shock of facing this conditions, my long time canine companions were the ones who licked my tears at night and helped remind me this was just a bump in the dog walk of life. A particularly large and very sensitive foster dog we’ve had for a few weeks actually seems to prefer to walk (closely) on my iffy side so I wonder if he senses he might need to help a bit with balance. In any event, one of the best remedies for a MS-induced pity party (or any other emotional swing) is dog baby licking your hand or face.

June 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm
(17) Karen says:

I have an 8 year old Brittany names Sophie. She is not a big dog but she always sits at my left side and sits on my foot. I think she thinks she is keeping me grounded. Even when I am standing still for a period of time, there she is sitting on my left foot, funny. It just so appens that my left is my weak side, maybe she knows….
Though her breed is very active and sometimes can be work, she is the best and I love her. It gives my husband peace of mind knowing that when he is at work she is right there by my side!

June 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm
(18) Anita says:

I have 2 wonderful dogs. A huge German Shepherd & a YorkiePoo. The Yorkie is my baby. I was diagnosed in 1999, and since then had breast cancer in 2006. I got my YorkiePoo after being diagnosed with BC because they have a long life span, I said I had to be around to take care of her. I also have empty nest syndrom so she is my baby & shadow. She cleans up all my tears when I start feeling sorry for myself and makes me feel so welcome & happy when I get home. Luckily I’m still working, so she acts like I’ve been missing for months when I get home. She never asks for dinner or laundry, or asks why I’m crying. Dogs are the BEST.

June 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm
(19) Kelly says:

I was dx’d in May 1999. The following April (2000), we found Gypsy our first dog. From the very beginning Gypsy had a special bond with me and shortly thereafter, we began to notice that she would become exceptionally clingy to me at certain times and sure enough within a day or so, I would end up having some sort of flare-up. It was as if she sensed it before I even showed any symptoms! All these years, she has done the same thing and I always know if she becomes extra clingy to me, I should rest up and Be prepared. Through the past 11 years we have added 5 more dogs to our family and I love each one of them so much. They have all helped me so much on those bad days, especially since in addition to the MS, I received a dx of Rheumatoid Arthritis 4 years ago. My 6 pups give me a reason to push through many days that I otherwise may have just stayed in bed and I love them for that :)

June 29, 2011 at 1:28 pm
(20) Yvette says:

What would we do without our furry best friends?? Especially when life hands you such tough challenges. I had no idea how much getting our first dog was going to help us get through.

We have a pit-mix , and what we think is an american bulldog (mix?)–and they mean everything to us. What an unbelievable amount of joy and laughter they’ve brought to our lives!

We don’t have kids, so they’re super spoiled…but they deserve it! (at least most of the time!)

June 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm
(21) Bob J says:

You ask about dogs? We rescued Lehigh from a street accident in Philadelphia and our vet guessed her to be around 2 yrs old. Six years later we cannot imagine life without Lehigh. She is now a 75 pd Black Lab and the joy of our lives! She is cute, funny, sympathetic talks to us with her expressions and many different moaning sounds. The 3 of us (of yes, my wife) site on the couch each evening and Lehigh will often roll over to get the tummy rubbed. All of her weight is in our laps!
Since she is part Border Collie, her hair is just a little longer that typical Lab, she is constantly herding us. That is a little tricky with my balance and walking issues, but we would not miss a minute of her! Thanks for asking.

June 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm
(22) Theresa says:

Just wanted to comment on the article about ms and dogs…

I have2 dogs who I know keep me getting up in a morning and living…. mans best friend is a true statement unconditional love!

June 29, 2011 at 1:50 pm
(23) SHARON GENTRY says:

I have a 2 year old Yorkie named, Presley. He makes sure I get out of bed every morning and take him for his walk. When I don’t think I feel like it, all I have to do is look into those little eyes and that’s all the inspiration I need. The walks definately help me to get up and at it and always makes me feel better. I encourage anyone with MS to get an animal to love, walking helps our spasticity and our moods in general…

June 29, 2011 at 1:52 pm
(24) Colleen says:

I have a Lhasa apso. She keeps me amused on a daily basis! A good little dog. Doesn’t need much exercise; don’t have to walk her much, she likes to run in the yard. Which is good for me on those days that are more difficult. Or when I can’t quite manage walking ME much less the dog!

But seriously she’s well worth the fun/laughing factor!

June 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm
(25) Wendy Hehr says:

Hi I have had My Black Lab sine 12/2003 I love her as much as one would their own child. At the time I did not think MS was going to upheave my life otherwise I would have trained her to pick up objects and to bark when I fall. I have asked many times to go up stairs and get her Daddy when I need help but she just guards me. When I have fallen out side insead of barking for help she just brings me a ball to play with.
She has learned to wait at the top of the stairs when I am going down with my cain.
Dogs Rule :)

June 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm
(26) Linda G. says:

I have 2 small dogs. A Maltese named Angie, and a Maltese/Chihauha-mix, named Chloe. My girls are the lights of my life. No matter how bad of a day I have had at work, when I get home and see those two little faces waiting for me, wagging their tails, the day gets instantly better! And strangely enough, I don’t think they notice if I do something wrong or happen to trip while walking across the room. In my eyes they are irreplaceable and I think the feeling is mutual.

June 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm
(27) Valerie says:

My husband was diagnosed in 2008 with MS. He has had it for ( they think) over 20 years but finally a doctor put all his symptoms together. We got Sam our golden retriever in 2007. Todd had his first relapse April 2008 and Sam has been Todd’s dog every since. Todd was in the hospital for 3 months and Sam was not himself. When we took Sam to see Todd at the hospital he did not want to leave. The 2 have been insepratable ever since. Sam knows when Todd is not well and lays by his side for hours. Todd tries to walk with Sam every day , but Sam is ok if they just lay in bed. Sam has brought much joy and comfort to our family. He is a service dog , not trained as such but naturally became that for us, and makes Todd feel better with just his head on Todd’s lap.

June 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm
(28) Karin G says:

When I was first diagnosed in 2005 I had a 2 year old longhair dachshund and my husband. I lost my husband in 2006 and my Casey early this year. Since I was not able to take Casey for walks any more I adopted a miniature schnauzer so they could play with each other and keep me company. Loosing my dachshund was very difficult for me since he was very tuned into my feelings and his death was very sudden. I decided to adopt a rescue dachshund just a few month ago, now I don’t concentrate on myself any more and my days are filled with training and the love of my two best friends. It is so nice not to be lonely and to have great company 24/7

June 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm
(29) Mary Beth says:

I have a 2 year old chocolate lab named Abby. I have had MS for 18 years and recently retired at age 52 from my job as a chemotherapy infusion nurse. Although I loved my job, it was unlikely that I would be able to continue working to the usual retirement age, so I got Abby as a pup with a plan to train her as a therapy dog, so if I needed to retire, I could continue the interaction with others that was my favorite part of nursing. Abby met over 100 new people by the time she was 4 months old and she continues to love to meet new people. She is the best dog I have ever known and I have had other dogs. She has completed 3 different training classes (through our local animal shelter), the last one being a preparation for becoming a ‘Canine Good Citizen’. I will continue to work with Abby through the summer and this fall, she will complete her therapy dog training and we will begin our work together, hopefully as Hospice volunteers.

June 29, 2011 at 4:14 pm
(30) Mary Ellen says:

I have three dogs, and they ARE MY life. I have two mini dachshunds, named Oscar and Bentley. I also have one basset hound, and her name is Lucy. Since having to stop working, I get to spend A LOT of time with them. And I LOVE it!! I SPOIL them EVERY chance I get! They are constantly by my side, no matter HOW I feel, or WHAT I say. THEY still LOVE me!! And I love them! I can’t even imagine NOT having them in my life. Like I said, they ARE MY LIFE.

June 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm
(31) Steve says:

I have three bulldogs Stella, Sid and Otis they are my constant companions. They are always happy to see me and I do not have to hide my symptoms from them or put on my everything is alright face.

June 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm
(32) AmberTia says:

I have a golden retriever who I adore. She makes me get out of bed in the afternoon to go to the dog park to play with her friends (so I get to have little chats with people too). During a recent relapse she spent nearly all her time beside me in bed and wouldn’t go out with anyone else for a walk. I felt bad about that but it was the catalyst to eventually getting myself out. She tends to pick up my symptoms – if I am limping on the left side she tends to develop a limp there too. We look after each other.

June 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm
(33) Anne says:

I have a dog named Buddy. He was supposed to be a little Bichon lap dog for my daughter, but he is a whopping 23 lbs (considerably more than the 10 the breeder assured me he would be), and he would prefer to sit on my shoulder with his body stretched out across my chest so that he can lick my face. He is truly my Buddy.

I regularly think that dogs were one of God’s best ideas. He is always faithful, always loving, always happy, and he is always there for me when I am blue. I wish people (myself included) were a little more like my dog. I literally don’t know how I could have made it through the last two years without him.

June 30, 2011 at 2:23 pm
(34) Colleen says:

I agree with and like your thoughts and sentiments.

Funny, I have a Lhasa that was supposed to be 14 lbs. and she’s a whopping 25! Not fat, just a big girl. Gotta love those big, little dogs!

June 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm
(35) Karen says:

I have a Husky/Austrian Shepherd mix. He was supposed to be my then teenage daughter’s dog but he was to energetic for her. He is ten year old and very calm these days. I have had MS for 13 years, in the early years we went for walks every night. He would support me so I would not need my cane. For the past 2 years I need a walker to walk. Last year I was still strong enough that with Aussie harnessed to my walker pulling I was able to walk almost a mile. This year I have become weaker and Aussie is my constant companion, encouraging me on the days when I don’t feel like moving.

June 29, 2011 at 8:18 pm
(36) SmurfBoots says:

I do not have dogs but I have LOTS of cats. Eight years ago we adopted twelve stray homeless kittens that had been left on our back deck and roof of the garage. Over the years we have lost three of them (cancer, torn up by two dogs, run away) but the nine we have left are my life!!!! My husband and I love them dearly and there is absolutely NOTHING I would not do for any of them.

June 29, 2011 at 8:36 pm
(37) Alyssa says:

I have always loved dogs, but the best animal I’ve ever had was a cat named Ike. He was with me when I was diagnosed in ’97. He sat next to me when I had no energy, was in pain or just sad… always wanted to go where ever I was. He’s been with me on my good days and bad. Last January was a bad day for him and at the age of 19 it was time for him to leave me. I stayed with him until the end and I sure miss his company. I still have 2 cats, but there was just something really special about Ike.

June 29, 2011 at 10:00 pm
(38) Karen says:

I have a 10 yr old little terrier mix named Biskit. She’s not smart enough to tell if I’m on the verge of a relapse or big enough to help when I have a problem with balance, but she’s always happy to see me when I get home from work, she knows when I need a little pooch snuggle and that sweet little face and waggling little tail always makes me smile!

June 29, 2011 at 10:49 pm
(39) Two Barking Dogs says:

I have two black labs, and would be lost withou them.

They keep my feet warm when I need it, carry things up and down the stairs for me.

But, best of all, they make me laugh when I don’t particularly feel like it.

Come by my blog for some fun stories. All welcome.

June 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm
(40) Nancy says:

I was diagnosed 15 years ago. We have always had dogs ever since I was a small child. We took in our daughter’s pit bull terrier and her boyfriend’s pit bull terrier. Then we had a chance to take in a blind dachshund puppy. They are the loves of our life. My husband plays with them a lot and they all keep me company. Their unconditional love brings so much joy to my heart. By the way, the blind pup can get around as good as any sighted dog I have ever seen. She amazes us and everyone that sees her. Also, please adopt shelter pets. They are the best kind of pets and thousands are put to sleep daily. They make wonderful pets and usually the owners have to give them up because of unforeseen circumstances. Thanks so much! Nancy

June 29, 2011 at 11:16 pm
(41) Sherry says:

I am VERY blessed with having found my dog “Daisy”. She came into my life just after a very traumatic loss — the loss of my son. I was almost as low as a person could go but from the very first moment I picked her up, I just knew she was the one. Having lost my only child I believed that I would forego the idea of ever getting the perfect dog for my son: a kind, intelligent, child loving, protective Rottie (yes, a Rottweiler!). But then thankfully later changed my mind and decided even though my son was no longer with me, I would get the perfect Therapy Dog anyway. The day I met my Daisy she saved my life. Three years later, divorced, over-worked, and suffering from PTSD, I was then diagnosed with Optic Neuritis and later MS. To me, I had already lost the most important thing in my life (my son) so why not MS. But really, I could not have coped with all the terrible events had Daisy not come into my life. Not only was she gifted in connecting with people emotionally (i.e. by this time Daisy was already a Certified Therapy Dog working with the elderly and children read to her at the local Library). Today, she is also my trained Service Dog. In additional to providing endless emotional support, she also performs the typical “mobility dog” tasks with devoted precision. Turns on lights, retrieves dropped objects, gets my phone, takes off socks, and knows how to brace & counter balance. She has saved my life in so many ways and has formed a bond with me like no other dog before her. I truly believe without her I would be lost. She is my heart, my savior….”my Angel”.

June 29, 2011 at 11:35 pm
(42) Barb D says:

I have 15 dogs, all different breeds; from 4 lb Teacup Poodle/Yorkie up to a German Shepherd. MY dogs, MY responsibility and these guys are the very reason my butt gets out of that bed each and every day. Some are rescues, some were actually sought out and chosen for their breed but all are loved, well taken care of and 5 of them get to sleep in our bed at night ;) I consider each one of my furkids to be my Therapy Dog’s. Each one of them is special in their own way; they do not much care if I look like crap and feel like crap, maybe I am in jammies all day or my hair is not washed, they never judge just love unconditionally. I have never met a dog I did not like, the same cannot be said for people….

Barb D

June 30, 2011 at 12:16 am
(43) kattface says:

I have a large (144#) Golden retriever, professionally trained. He stands and waits for me to brace myself against him should I fall- he helps me up a step and holds fast while I get up there, too. So loving, my truly best friend. He is a certified and registered service animal. Where I go, he goes, as per ADA and the RSAP. Even restaurants. He lies down under the table and naps while I eat. Parents and kids, should tell “billy” he can’ pet the nice puppy” but they don’t. I get some sarcastic remarks, like, “well who does she think SHE is?”…and I fire right back, “I’m a person with multiple sclerosis, and my animal is NOT a pet. Don’t touch him again”. A service dog is not a pet. when I need him to hold me up or balance me, I know he is on duty.
Folks who buy”service dog” patches and vests, so fluffy, (who may weigh 2-3#) anywhere they go. how can an animal that size be a service dog. just a pet. It’s an abuse of ADA and professional trainers who work only with service dogs. So when you run into Ruelane and fluffy shopping tell her that fluffy should be home where she belongs. She is a pet. NOT a service dog. I ask these people, walking without any form of assistance, holding fluffy in their arms.” My SERVICE DOG can help me stand up if I fall. Can your 2#CHIHAUHAU do the same?” Some folks get it, others are clueless.
SD’s will not yip in terror and start to shiver. Mine will stand fast till I find my feet. When people stop abusing the “service dog” standards, stop trying to pet and play with a working dog, and fluffy cleeps on her pillow till its time to shiver some more…AT HOME WHERE SHE BELONGS.

July 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm
(44) Amerel says:

While your big dog is “your” service dog for a reason, please do NOT diss on the smaller dogs! There is more to a service dog than balance.

I have had M.S. for 30 yrs. I have had NO large service dog. If I have problems with balance I use a forearm stick or a wheelchair.

My cockerpoo picked up phones, keys, pencils, food cans, ect. This is what I needed in a service animal. She was there to alert me to a pending flare up. She was my lifeline for 13 yrs.

Smaller dogs are good service dogs that serve the purpose they are trained for. No matter what size, a service dog is there to help with a disability. You are being just as insensitive as those that pet your dog are being.

June 30, 2011 at 7:45 am
(45) Sherry Dinis says:

Good Morning. I have a 9 year old German Shephard from Germany.Her name is shylah. I didnt want a dog at first, I have always been a cat lover, but my then husband wanted a dog so we got Shylah. Then I was told the devasting news that I had MS. I remember when I came home the day my Neuro told me, I threw myself on my kitchen floor and just cried. I mean I cried hard and loud…..thats when I realized that Shylah was right there with me. When I looked up at her she gave me this sad but beautiful face and planted a big wet kiss on me! That day, I knew she was going to be the best part of my therapy. When my husband and I filed for divorce I assumed he would want to keep her, but he said no, you keep her you need her. He was right, I do need her. Whenever she see’s her mommy crying she still comes over to me to console me and give me kisses. She don’t judge me for what I can and cannot do. Nor does she yell at me becuase I didn’t clean something one day. Nor does she divorce me when times get diffucult with my health and life. Nope my dog Shylah is right beside me every step of the way. I thank God that I have her, I would be so lost during these many days that I deal with so much pain and heart ache. Thank you Shylah, for being my best friend and Mommy’s little girl!

June 30, 2011 at 8:10 am
(46) Susan says:

I had many dogs over the years, but my last two were 2 jack russell terriers, who I ADORED. I felt that they held the secrets of my soul, that no one else had access to. They took care of me, made me laugh; and I took care of them. Rocky had congestive heart failure and Katie had canine form of MS (no kidding). I used to say, “I hope we don’t both get an exacerbation at the same time.” They both died one week apart from each other, both being nursed to the minute I felt they deserved a much-needed rest. I can no longer have a dog, as my grandson is SEVERELY allergic to the saliva of dogs; hence there is no dog without saliva. I now have a bird; who is adorable, cuddly and loves me to death, as I love him.
As for my two furry friends, they will be gone 2 yrs in Oct. Not a day goes by that I don’t yearn to have them by my side. I consider myself a better human being for spending 16 years with these angels. They taught me so much about life; they knew had to live and enjoy the moment. I am so grateful for them and I hope I find them on the “Rainbow Bridge” when my time comes.

June 30, 2011 at 8:21 am
(47) Charlie says:

I have 2 Papillons that I got just as I was diagnosed with MS. My husband and I researched that they would be the calmest and easiest to care for. We were right. They are the best lap dogs ever. Plus if it wasn’t for them needed to go outside at times, I don’t think I would have ever gotten out of bed. I felt like they saved my life. They would lick my face and wag their tails telling me to get out of bed and go get some Vitamin D mommy. Come outside with us and walk, even if it’s just for a minute. It made me smile and I was always glad I did. My husband even built them a “cat” stand at the window where they look out and watch the out doors whenever they are not in bed with me or in my lap. They follow me everywhere, including you know where. I love them as my children and carry pictures of them around with me where ever I go. (and my husband too).

June 30, 2011 at 11:34 am
(48) Alexandra says:

I love your blog Julie because of these types of articles! The things the doc’s never talk about. I was diagnosed two years ago in June. I remember when the nurse came to teach me how to give myself injections. My animals knew something was up that day just by my actions I suppose. I have three dogs and three cats. When the nurse arrived all three dogs checked her out and then settled in a “safe” perimeter around us. I noticed them all watching carefully like they wanted to learn this stuff too. The nurse noticed too. She even commented on it. When I finally got around to the actual injection I had a very strong emotional reaction and started to sob. My largest dog Charlie, a Golden Lab mix, got up quietly came over to me and put his head in my lap. I hugged him and just cried. I still tear up now thinking about it. It’s like he just knew how hard this was for me. I’ll never forget it. The nurse said how lucky I was for having such a wonderful dog. I agree with her. I do my shots faithfully every other night for two years now, and my dogs all still watch with curiosity and a bit of apprehension. They know I don’t like the shots, and probably never will, but if them keep me going, then so be it. Thank you Julie for the chance to tell my story and for adopting some pets too. You’ll be glad you did.

June 30, 2011 at 2:50 pm
(49) mary says:

Love my dogs! I have one that is an emotional shock absorber. I work in a hospital and there are service dogs that are brought in. I awlays tell the “pet people” to stop by the social work office cuz I need help keeping my blood pressure down B4 I get home. sometimes they remember.

July 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm
(50) Justine says:

Wow, these comments made me cry. I also have two mystery mutts and when I was first diagnosed a few years ago I was so depressed I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. It was knowing my pooches needed food and water that forced me up. And once I was up, their joy at seeing me made it all seem bearable.

July 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm
(51) Lynn says:

We added our golden retrivier, Willie, to our family almost 6 yrs. ago. He is very loving and active. I was diagnosed with MS two and a half years ago. Willie keeps us laughing with his antics. This March, Willie, saved my life when I had my first seizure. Willie alerted my husband by crying or howling. John found Willie beside me and I was turning blue. Thanks to Willie I got the medical help I needed. Willie stays close to me now. He is never far from me. Some how Willie knew I was in trouble. Dogs are amazing!!

July 3, 2011 at 5:34 am
(52) Anne Veasey says:

When I had to come into a nursing home due to the severity of my MS I was heartbroken to leave my two dogs – Jet – a labrador/collie cross and Jake – an English Springer Spaniel – behind. But I have managed to find some people who live near me to look after them, and they bring them to see me about 5 times a week. so they stay with me for 4 or 5 hours a day. I can’t begin to tell you how much this means to me. The nurses tell me how much better I am on “dog days”. They’ve made good friends among the other residents as well, only three of whom have MS. They are working as regular PAT dogs and they love it. Its as good for the dogs as it is for the residents, there is absolutely nothing better than a dog for helping residents of hospitals and nursing homes to brighten up

July 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm
(53) Chuck says:

I am lucky enough to have 3 chow chow rescues. I was diagnosed in 1980(!) and am still able to walk. Having my children helps to keep me moving through the day. I have fallen down our stairs and they know when I need help. They allow me to hang on to the fur and they pull me up. They are the best!!

July 3, 2011 at 7:03 pm
(54) maureen says:


July 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm
(55) Amerel says:

I have several furbabies right now. My cockerpoo is almost 14 and soon to pass over. Life will be so much harder without her. She has been an extra set of hands for me for years. She picks up items I drop (phone, keys, pencils, ect) and also alerts when I am about to have an attack. Where normally she will not let anyone near me, she always lets ambulance attendants help me. I have seen her hold police at bay then let the paramedic come right to me. The last two years she has not been doing much, she has arthritis and has now gone almost deaf. All this my Peanut learned on her own and I just encouraged.
I am training my mini schnauzers now. One is 3 and one is a puppy. The pup alerts on my ms. I am starting the service dog training with her and working on picking up items. The 3 yr old has no interest and is content to be my companion without working!

July 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm
(56) Patricia L Mears says:

I have a 120lb german shephard RUDY the is my constant companion when I am working out in our yard, 4 acres. Rudy is amazing…he is always “ON DUTY” when I am outside alone, without a person….(I am also followed everywhere by my 4 barn cats, Bobby Lee, Sally, Little Puss, and Silly Goose0. Rudy sits upright and at station until someone else comes home. Rudy will not leave my sight . My animals are such an importan part of my life. They help me with my times of fatigue and depression.
I was diagnosed about 3 yrs ago but my neurologist said I had it for about 10 years prior to being officially diagnosed.
I do believe that animals improve your mood and attitude toward life.

July 7, 2011 at 1:48 am
(57) mary says:

I agree totally with you, animals DO helped with our attitude on life and very much help with our moods, I know what it’s like to have a 120 lb. shephard by your side, a faithful friend!!!!!

July 7, 2011 at 1:41 am
(58) mary says:

I have had MS for 30 some years and have almost always had a dog, they’ve been my other best friend besides my husband and our daughter. Sassy, our latest, we’ve had , for eight years, since a pup, (a shepherd/lab, and previously a german shepherd for 18years, then other pups before that. Sassy has been sooooo comforting, a lot, really love her around. Although my MS is not severe, as others, having a dog has been very comforting. Love you Sassy♥

July 25, 2011 at 11:17 am
(59) lois says:

love my lab mix she always makes me laugh i also have horses that i have to work with everyday no matter how bad i feel i allways feel better after being around my animals

July 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm
(60) Cari says:

Dogs are wonderful for families.
I have two westies who go with me everywhere. They are both AKC good citizens, and registered as service, therapy dogs.

I give myself daily injections, and often travel alone for my job. The dogs calm me while I inject, but also are trained to lick me in the face if I faint. If I don’t respond, they bark to get attention. When I check in at the hotel, I let them know if they hear barking at bedtime, please call my room. So far, I have fainted only once while being alone with the dogs, but was “revived” immediately with face licking!

They have given me much joy along with motivation to exercise and keep a regular routine.

Good luck with training–both the pups and yours!

July 26, 2011 at 8:17 pm
(61) Beverly says:

Hi! I have a male Westie who is five. I do believe he knows that I have an illness and is very protective of me. My Westie gets very protective when my husband or adult children give me hugs. When home alone my Westie is glued to my side at all times. Recently I tripped (sometimes my feet don’t go where I want them to) and stubbed my little toe. It was bruised and became purple. My Westie kept licking my toe I think to help heel it.
When we adopted him in ’06 and I began training classes in the hopes of him being to assist me as needed. Because of my MS, I wasn’t able to be active enough with my Westie enough for fear of falling. So now he is my walking partner trained to be at my side while we walk. He is my Bestie Westie!!!

August 13, 2011 at 8:55 am
(62) Delonghi esam 3500 says:

thanks for the many helpful tips that you get here.
Just the class is there such a thing.

September 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm
(63) Joy says:

I have two dogs. A Schnauzer and an Australian Shepherd. My dogs are my best friends. I’m training them to be assistance dogs, both of them. Anyone can do it and custom train them to your needs. There is no reason that a smaller dog, such as a Schnauzer, can’t be an assistance dog as well. My Aussie helps me get up off the floor. And they both ‘get’, ‘bring’ and ‘give’ any number of objects for me. I plan to teach them a lot more as well. It’s mentally stimulating to train a dog(s) and the comfort and company they provide is priceless.

December 15, 2011 at 2:29 pm
(64) Crystal says:

I was diagnosis with MS in April 2011. I have a Cocker Spaniel (smart as can be), and had 2 mutts (boxer/hound). My boxer is the mom and my husbands deer hound is the dad. Well before I was old I had MS, one of the mutts changed (my daughter dog). He started staying by me and not letting me out of his sight. We started to bound. Then I was told MS was the reason for what I was going through. I guess if I would have listened closer then I would have known that the dog was telling me something from the start. He helped me get up when Id sit in the yard, he’d help me in the house and he’d stay beside me all day in the house and keep me from loosing my mind or crying. He amazed everyone at what he done for me and my daughter. She trained him basic stuff. my cocker and the mix breeds went in the woods and ran a deer in the creek connected to our land. Two came back a few mins later but our boy has been gone for 2 wks. My whole family is upset over this. My daughter and I are broken. I want go outside now because he isnt here to guard me. I guess god gave my daughter her dream for a reason. Let me tell alittle about it. She just turned 11 and my boxer was due to have pups anytime. She dreamed of a fawn male, the runt, with white legs and the letter C on his chest in white. the next morning when she goes to check, she finds the pup she dreamed of. White legs and a C on his chest, the runt. His name became CHARLLIE, as in thee dream. Two L’s because he was special. We are still praying that he’ll come home but chances are slim. Dogs are the best companions.

January 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm
(65) Julie Armand says:

I not only have my wonderful MS canine buddies, but I also have a MS balance horse. I can no longer ride due to balance issues, so I walk beside her and hang on to her and we walk together. It’s been proven that the gait of a horse is similar to the normal walking gait in humans. I can always feel an improvement in my gait and balance after some time with her. She’s 21 and it’s really good for her too!

January 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm
(66) Tammy Harrod says:

I have two Wire Haired Fox Terriers. We adopted our 12 year old when she was 2. After adopting her I decided to get a puppy because I wanted to train him to be a therapy dog through WAGS (Wonderful Animals Giving Support). At 12 weeks old I put Sam in puppy obedience school and kept him in obedience classes for a year. We passed the rigorous Delta test with flying colors! We enjoyed obedience school so much we continued in every type of class we could find for several years. I became the WAGS Facilities/Team Leader Coordinator and Sam and I visited 4 nursing homes and rehab centers monthly. After a couple of years of visiting I had to stop because of mobility issues but I still have my volunteer position. It is because of my wonderful dog that I made so many friends and had such rewarding experiences! Another year went by my mobility worsnsed. My husband said why won’t you find somebody to help you teach Sam to help you. What a great idea! So we found a wonderful service dog trainer. Sam and I went through extensive training with group classes and lots of private classes. He goes every where with me. His job includes picking things up and giving them to me, (even though Sam is a medium size dog he’s as tall as any lab when he gives the object to me. He’s trained to stand on his back legs releasing objects when I’m standing.) retrieving objects, getting laundry out of the dryer, opening the refriegerator and geting a bottle of water out, opening and shutting cabinet doors, and touching the automatic door opener buttons at public places, etc. The best thing is that he’s my best friend!!! I cannot express how calming he is and how much stress he takes off me everyday. When dog is spelled backwards it spells GOD! What a blessing that God gave us animals!

January 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm
(67) deborah says:

We adopted a bernese mountain/retrieved mix from out local shelter. He is 8 years old and 70 pounds. I wanted a calm, gentle, and loving companion. He is that and so much more. He is very attentive to my needs, provides unconditional love, and is a constant protector. An incredible bond was formed between us all. My husband surprised me with a adult sized tricycle when my energy and balance no longer made walking the dog possible. After he made adjustments, the dog now moves with me on the scooter. He also walks beside me to retrieve the mail with his dog pack.
Julie, How about an M.S. support group online for pet lovers?

January 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm
(68) marg says:

my dog, Kodi, was a Kuvaz/Border collie cross, the owner was about to give the puppies to the humane society. My Kodi was the only black dog in the litter of 8 and the only female. i got her while i was in the diagnostic process, but she was only a couple of weeks old, i had to feed her goats milk myself for the first few weeks. she grew to be a very large dog, with a heart bigger than all the living skies. she was never trained, had very selective hearing, but was never far from my side when i was wobbly. she seemed to understand by instict when i needed her to steady me, and just was there. when i was having pity parties, she came and lay by my side and licked my tears. she loved me whether or not i could walk, talk or see; she loved me when i was sad, mad or just plain cranky – but last christmas, at the age of 12, she developed cancer and passed away. my life has felt empty without her unconditional love and support, and reading your articles has convinced me i should get another puppy.

January 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm
(69) Carol says:

I had a wonderful dog named Roxanne who at the age of 8, suddenly went blind. About that same time, I was diagnosed with MS. We found out that Roxanne had developed a very serious form of diabetes. We had to start giving her insulin shots (I started giving myself Copaxone injections) and we had her on a strict diet. I learned so much about bravery from watching that dog cope with her new challenges! She was so brave. She walked around the house and went outside as if nothing had changed. I adored that dog and she loved me right back. We had a very special bond. I was devastated when we lost her. I miss her to this day.

January 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm
(70) Jodi says:

I have three Bichons and they are the love of my life. I was diagnosed in Spring 1996, so I’ve had MS for 15 years (yikes!) but am still completely ambulatory. While my furkids would not be able to help me with balance or anything when I need it, they are there for me. Always. I have been on anti-depressants for the past 7 years and I know my depression would be much worse without those furry little faces waiting for me when I got home. Dogs love you no matter what. They love you when your feet feel like they weigh a ton, when you’re fatigued, when you’re down, and on the rare occasion when you’re feeling sorry for yourself. We adopted two of our “kids” and I do a lot of volunteer work for an all-breed rescue organization. Just being around those dogs, many who have had a much rougher life than I have, makes me feel better–even on the “bad” days.

January 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm
(71) Adrian Horne says:

It was my previous dog (A 40Kg Northern Inuit) that initially showed my PPMS development in 2008 (prior to diagnosis) and got me through the first 2 years.
I had been a devoted Caver, Climber, Hillwalker and Dog owner since a young age but as time went on I found that I couldn’t achieve the same distances and was increasingly ‘dragging’ my leg behind me as I headed home. On several occasions I only reached home using Atka as a ‘tow truck’.
18 months of tests revealed MS to be the cause and I suspected Atka would suffer as exercise reduced. Being ‘bloody minded’ I would not accept this for him and soon learned that using him to lean against on the lead actually assisted my balance when used with my F.E.S unit.
Sadly,in November, Atka died unexpectedly and I realised how essential he had been. I planned not to replace him (out of fairness to another dog) but my physio was totally opposed as Atka had ‘kept me going’.
Taking leftover food to Birmingham Dogs Home I was spotted by the kennel maid that put Atka and I together 7 1/2 years ago and, because of my knowledge of the breed, I was asked to look at a badly abused Inuit that they had tried to home for months but who was so hideously nervous that she had been returned 5 times !!! My strength of will meant that 2 days later Tehya was at my home. She had been puppy-mill raised and needed to re-learn EVERYTHING.
Today I collected a similar personality Copper Siberian Husky to help Tehya’s rehab and as I type they are hugging in her bed, 1 is 4 years old and 1 is 18 months.
I know I’m droning on but my Rescue dogs have been Support dogs, Balance dogs, projects to fill the annoyingly empty days, a reason to get up on the bad days and a reason to keep going on the black days. I can’t think of a better advertisement for Dogs in MS and the difference in these dogs makes me CERTAIN the benefits have been for both sides. xx

January 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm
(72) faye says:

i would be – lost- without my dog- they keep you moving!! unless you dont like animals- i could never understand-that– i love them-
you wont believe the company- and they help keep you motivated!!!
-i got yourkie!!!- lol!

January 18, 2012 at 6:15 pm
(73) Lynnbee says:

I have had MS for 22 years. I have been disabled due to fatigue and cognitive impairments for the past four years. About two years ago we moved from CA to PA and had to put our beloved mini-schnauzer down as she was too sick to endure the move. After being dogless for more than a year and a half, I told my husband I wanted a dog. He was quite reluctant but was willing to let me start looking and thinking about whether to adopt or buy. God sure has a sense of humor! We happened to pass a pet store which had two adult mini-poodle mixes who had to be adopted together as they were strongly bonded. I had to go in to say “hello” as my husband did his best not to watch. One climbed into my lap for hugs and to give kisses immediately. They had a program where you could foster for a week and then decide if you wanted to adopt. After another visit on my own, my husband reluctantly agreed to a week’s trial. It only took two days before we were smitten. After having them for six weeks, my husband said what he liked most about having the dogs was what it did for me! He said I seemed happier and more energetic. We have laughed more in the past several weeks than we have in a long time. We are 58 and the addition of Ginger and Tuffy to our family has been such a blessing. They are 5 and 6 years old so they don’t need as much exercise as puppies do, but they do like to go for walks and it gets me out to walk almost every day. Getting our dogs has been the best thing we’ve done for me (and my husband) in a very long time!

January 19, 2012 at 7:05 am
(74) Heidi says:

My 4 legged boy brings joy to my world every day! Dexter is a Pappillion that will be 7 in February. He was a surprise Christmas gift from my mom 6 yrs. ago. He came from a puppy mill, so he has his own little quirks. My mom said that I needed a ‘good companion’, which has turned out to be such a wonderful & positive gift. He knows when I am not feeling good & stays right by my side. He makes me get up & move, we both enjoy our daily walks. I was diagnosised with MS in 2001 & am blessed to have more good days than bad. I suggest to everyone to get a pet if at all possible – they are so very therapeutic!

January 20, 2012 at 12:38 am
(75) Kathy says:

Really warmed my heart to hear others’ stories of their animal companions/helpers. I’m more a cat purrson, but love love dogs too! It’s 12 yrs. since I learned I had RRMS and my kitties (6 indoor) have been a godsend. No matter how I feel, they MUST be fed and their litter taken care of. Too many times I’ve had only this motivation to get my act in gear. Their dependence on me and total devotion to me has made many things thrown at me by MS much more bearable. Two of my kitties are Calicos and one is a huge pure white one….they are especially tuned in to my health…especially the emotional havoc MS can cause. I’m so thankful for them and also that my husband is as cat crazy as I am. Thanks for letting me share with you…..

January 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm
(76) Monica says:

I’ve loved reading all these wonderful stories about everyone’s dogs and cats! I was diagnosed with RRMS in Dec. 2010. I have a wonderful husband and 2 amazing dogs, Olive and Baxter. I’ve had Olive since 2004, I think I bought her from a puppy mill without knowing that first so she is a little crazy, but in a good way. She is a Schnoodle (Schnauzer-Poodle mix :) ) and I could not ask for a better friend than her. In August 2011 we adopted 4 year old Baxter, a Maltese-Poodle mix, and he has brought so much more joy to Olive and our household. I am lucky to have not had any relapses as of yet, but I know when I’m feeling really tired my babies will lay in bed with me all day if I have to. They are the lvoes of my life! Thanks Olive and Baxter!!!

January 30, 2012 at 6:48 am
(77) ellen says:

I was diagnosed nearly 6 years ago.After getting divorced nearly 3 years ago , i was able to get a dog. I got Sulu from a rescue centre, didn’t know anything about her but she’s turned into one of the best things i’ve ever done. She’s sweet, sensitive & is always up for a cuddle. She know when i’m not well & will sit at my feet or more preferably she’ll snuggle up with me on the settee…the horribleness of ms never goes but she takes the edge off & is worth her weight in gold : )

July 11, 2012 at 9:38 am
(78) Barbara says:

I grew up in a family that raised/showed dogs – my passion. When I was diagnosed, I thought my hobby since childhood was over. Not so! Walking isn’t quite as easy and I certainly have to rest and can no longer run. Still my dogs and I have fun training and showing in obedience/rally trials. Yes, we will never win a tie break for speed. But we usually place (and sometimes win) based on a happy, good performance. Don’t know what I would do without my furry guy. We have so much fun trying to figure out new things to do. Best of all they don’t care that I’m slow and a little off balance.

August 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm
(79) Julie Hughes says:

My husband was diagnosed with RRMS after 6 years pursuing a dx. About 6 months before his 1st emergence of symptoms, we got our 1st dog, a Chihuahua named Oz. He wasn’t an animal person, but he immediately fell in love, and after a few years, we adopted a little woman for our little guy from a Chihuahua rescue, and after much trial and error, named her Zooey. Neither of them is trained for any special purpose, but the concern on their faces when my husband suffers an exacerbation and their unwillingness to leave his side when he falls or is not feeling well is so adorable.
I do have one question: We were very fortunate that Zooey rarely barks. Oz, however, barks at knocking, the doorbell, at car doors slamming – not all the time, but his bark is SO high pitched that it HURTS my husband. Sometimes it can make him symptomatic when he is well, and when he is symptomatic, he likens it to someone breaking a bottle over his head.
When it 1st started affecting him, I was really upset. I thought it meant that we might have to either give him up (I’ve never given away an animal – ever), or get him “de-barked” (something, as an animal-lover, I consider barbaric), but when I brought this up to my husband, he looked at me like I had hit him over the head & said that neither one of those was an option and it was something he would just deal with. I was admittedly relieved, but at the same time, every time Oz barks, it hurts me to know how much it hurts him. Oz is 6 years old and we’ve tried some training techniques to discourage his barking with limited success, and we’ve installed an intercom to try to eliminate knocking/doorbell ringing. The problem is that the barking often comes unexpectedly and then the damage is done.
Don’t get me wrong – having Oz & Zooey in our lives has done so much more good, especially for my husband, than a little barking can erase. I was just wondering if anyone else had experienced this problem and could offer any advice.

August 18, 2012 at 3:45 am
(80) Nicola says:

I have 2 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Monty and Riley. They are fantastic company. With the great assistance of the dog whispered programmers they are very well behaved, balanced dogs. The motivate me to get up and off my bum to go for walks. I have met lots of people and walked without any balance aids with, which I can’t do without them. They have made me a much more relaxed and happy person. I choose this breed for their temperament, as we should have dogs that suit our energy levels and these two suit perfectly.

January 22, 2013 at 11:39 pm
(81) Don says:

I have had MS for 12yrs. now and in the last year it attacked my brain in 9 different spots. I have to take shots every week and I have a little savior named Nemo a little 5lb. Pappillon and he has become my life. Each time when I get my shot out he comes over and sits at my feet and after I take shot I lay down and he jumps up on the couch and sits on top of my head and licks my face and then curls up on my neck and sleeps all night with me and never leaves my side. I do not have any medicine the doctor has given me that makes me feel as good as Nemo does he is so loving and has never failed to take care of me. I do not ever want to think of my life without my little friend and instead of a insurance company wanting your money all Nemo requires is a lot of love and being babied and he is the love of my life. I love my puppy more than anything I have!

January 23, 2013 at 1:59 am
(82) Kristen Schroeder says:

Amazing a dog can save your life with MS!!! Took in a dog a year ago, then got marrie. three days later im in hospital haveing a hard time moving the left side of my body, Found out I had MS, hated myself and my new found life. Then my husband, family, and dog have saved me. Even though physical theropy was a huge help, my dog helped save my life. Never knew this mut t that is so a stubburn crazy lady, like myself would help me keep my calm and breath, when i thaught all was lost. Sasha my wonderful mutt, saved my attitude and my marriage. my hand would barley move and she would constanstly nudge me and whip my hand to make it move and it did!!!! When i was home on rest, she would give me hope and smiles. She made me pet her all the time and i was able to get my strength back. No phyiscal theropy helped and pushed me as much as my dog did. I wish there was more about MS and Dogs.

February 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm
(83) Fran says:

I lost my mother in October and then my husband of 48 years in November. I have a mix Pomeranian/ Poodle ( Pom a Poo ) her name is Puddles and she is 13 years old. My husband and I love her so much. My husband was very ill and one day he told Puddles, he hoped she out lived him, because he couldn’t bear the pain of losing her. Since, my husband left Puddles is the reason I’m doing as well as I am. She is so special and is always with me. She gives me a reason to go on and not feel so lonely. She loves wearing clothes and when I get ready for bed, she wants her P.J.’s on too. When I get up, she wants to get dressed too and waits for me to wash her face and comb her hair. I put her hair up in pigtails. She is very mindful and knows when I’m sad or upset.
I don’t know what I would do without her by my side. She means everything to me. She is like my child, my best friend, my therapist, my heart when I feel so sad and alone and I can always count on her to be there for me. And I am always there for her. Everyone needs someone like Puddles. She brings such a special joy to my life. Please get you a friend like Puddles and she will never let you down and you want feel so lonely.

May 15, 2013 at 10:51 am
(84) Liz says:

What about cats? Granted I can’t walk her. But having a cat curl up next to you and purr non stop is bliss.

May 15, 2013 at 11:15 am
(85) Kelly Marshall says:

We have 6 dogs :) a Mutt named Gypsy, 2 pugs (Kirby & Joey), 2 French Bulldogs (Sushi & Spanky) and a Boston Terrier named Riley! I was dx’d with MS in May 2000 and dx’d with RA in 2008. Yes, they are a lot of work, but being home all day now, it keeps me going to have my furry babies to take care of! My children are all grown (22, 23, 25 & 26) and my furry babes help keep me on track with a daily routine and just plain and simple companionship. My big mutt Gypsy was the first of our dogs. We found her as a stray in 2001. She has bonded with me in such a way that SHE can sense that I am going to have a flare up even BEFORE I know it! She will start clinging to me, watching me and being very protective about a day or two before something starts up with the MS. I also keep reptiles (5 snakes, 2 bearded dragons, a uromastyx, leopard gecko, 5 box turtles and a 40 lb tortoise who I have had for 12 years since she was a hatchling. While not for everybody, I also like relaxing and holding my reptiles and caring for them as well. They all make me smile :)

May 15, 2013 at 11:24 am
(86) Cathie says:

I don’t have dogs…I have fur babies and I love them to bits!
When I was diagnosed in early 2011, I had my beautiful Jewels a sweet and gentle Cocker Spaniel. She was with me through the unknown, the pain, the fatigue and the fear. She laid with me when I couldn’t get up and walked with me when I could. She was my motivation and my companion.
We decided to get a puppy in 2012. At the time Jewels was getting older and our thought process was that a puppy would help to put a spring in her and my step. We rescued a wonderful hound mix Rory at 3 months old. Jewels and I loved and cared for him together.
But you can’t stop the inevitable and Jewels left us in November 2012. Devastated, it took me 4 days till I could even look at Rory. I couldn’t give him what he needed during that time and my daughter had to take him. But back he came and now that he is almost a year, he has taken Jewel’s spot as my encouragement, my snuggle buddy, my consoler, my comic relief and my companion.
I couldn’t imagine what going through MS would have been like without my fur babies always by my side.

May 15, 2013 at 11:29 am
(87) Brandi says:

I have an American bulldog named BRODI. If it wasn’t for him I probably would not b here. I was dx in 2007 and could not walk. I lived alone with such scary thoughts of how I will continue to live like this but it wasn’t long before I regained my strength all from the help of my dog. He slowley got me walking again and never let me b sad. The nudge of his snoot and his big smooch everyday pushed me to get better. He is now 7 and I cherish every day with him. He truly saves me everyday!

May 15, 2013 at 11:55 am
(88) Tammy Williams says:

I have a pitbull (I know all the stigmas) that is now my service dog and is registered withe the Federal Registry. She was my son’s dog since a pup and he trained her, but couldn’t keep her. We thought she was such a sweet dog we would take her in. She was pregnant at the time and I helped her deliver her pups. She formed a special bond with me. Then when I got sick she changed, and followed my disease. When I was too ill to get off the couch she refused to leave my side. Now I don’t have to tell my family I’m sick she does it for me by refusing to go to the bathroom even. She will follow me in the yard and will NOT stay outside to play if I am not there. I truly believe that we need service dogs in any capacity a person feels is necessary. She may not be a balance dog, I’m stubborn and at times refuse to tell you that I am sick, but she won’t let me get away with it. This is awesome! !!!

May 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm
(89) Stan Arney says:

We have 3 dogs, one long-haired Jack Russell Terrier (Wesley), one Min-Pin (Harley), and one Chiquaqua (Aurora).

I sometimes get bad tremors, and Harley knows when they are coming.
He usually a “momma’s boy”, but when he knows the tremors are coming, for me, he will come to me, and lay down on my chest or beside me. As the tremors arrive, and they hit hard (uncontrollable shaking, which wreaks havoc on my emotions, he will stay by my side, allowing me to pet him, until I can down, with the help of diazapem.

Aurora, we got her, when she was only 3 weeks old, last August, and she will do the very same thing. She knows when these “episodes” are coming and though she also is a “momma’s girl”, she will come to my aide.

This is pure instinct, neither of these dogs, have been trained to do this.

Thank you, for your time, consideration, and cooperation, I truly appreciate it.

May 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm
(90) Tracy says:

My Life without my Golden Retriever Jack and cats would be so empty it is unimaginable. I am single and deal with this disease every day alone. Those three faces force me to get up, go to work and get moving. I feel so bad that I can no longer walk Jack but he says he understands. I still take him to a school by my house on the weekends before work to run him and let him play with his friends.

Not sure where I would be without them!

May 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm
(91) Lisa Jordan says:

I was diagnosed with MS on February 17, 2011. I had a toy poodle named Ginger at that time. She offered me so much unconditional love and support at the time of my diagnosis, it made it a little easier to deal with. I have a wonderful and supportive husband and family as well. There’s just something special about a dog’s love and affection. My sweet Ginger passed away March of 2012. I miss her so very much. I can’t get another dog yet because my husband and I are living with my father-in-law and he is not much of a dog person. One of these days in the future I’ll get another dog because I truely believe that they do help provide such love and therapy.

May 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm
(92) Francoise says:

I could write about my dog, Figgy, an Aussie, but I won’t bore everyone. Suffice to say he pretty much saved my life, and continues to. I am doing well with my MS, partly I think because of him. I do want to comment on something else, however, and that’s your comment Julie about insurance companies maybe approving balance and similar therapy dogs because they improve quality of life. Don’t ever be fooled. Quality of life is not or ever will be part of the equation when it comes to insurance companies. To them you are a profit line, pure and simple. Any claim is up to the adjuster, and then his or her supervisor, and then his or supervisor, etc. And they all have numbers they need to achieve. I wish it were otherwise….
So, live with your dogs nonetheless. Enjoy them as best you can. Love them as they love you. Be thankful for them.

May 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm
(93) Jan says:

Hello Julie, how about CATS!!!! Cats are wonderfully therapeutic! I have three cats. My oldest, KoKo, seems to know when I have worked at the computer too long, even if I am just playing brain games. He will begin to poke me with his paw and meows quietly. The more I sit there, the more he pokes me until I get up and go to my recliner to “snuggle” up and rest. My younger cats have a way of knowing which leg or arm to place on my body that hurts beyond the normal (5-6 on the pain scale at the doc’s office) and will snuggle and lay on top so I have a nice heating pad, furry but warm! They are my constant companions and best friends. I don’t have human friends that will spend time with me except one but she lives in NJ and I am in WA. They give me reason to get up and get going every day, and give me such unconditional love that strengthens me. So lets put CATS on the list of animals that are therapy!

May 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm
(94) Stephanie says:

I don’t have a dog I have Cats. I had a cat that diagnosed illness in other cats and slept with them before they were going to die. Their vet said to me “be glad he doesn’t sleep with you” Before I was diagnosed I went from Dr to dr. I finally gave up. The CAT started sleeping with me. He would sleep with his paw on my head. Night after night. I said that’s it! Not only was his paw on the biggest lesion there were other findings. He has since crossed. The rainbow bridge. He was 20. Currently I have a Feline who stays with me ALL the time. She will stay in the bathroom while I bathe on the days I am going to have an episode. She knows before me. I warn people when I am out. Sometimes I forget and then Boom. Oh yea. I forgot. They let me sleep in the morning when I have had a bad night. Other wise I get a tAp on the leg. Get up. Time to makE the coffee. Computer screen gets blocked when its time for bed. Who is in charge? Amazing animals. Great for your health. Don’t know what I would do without em.

May 15, 2013 at 6:04 pm
(95) jackie says:

I Have 2 dogs and 3 cats. They really do help me. Lately I have been sooo tired all the time and in mornings don’t even want to get up but I have to to take care of my pets. Ihave a retriever chow mix named buffy and a shepherd chow named jazz. They are my family since I live alone love them dearly. my cats are Sprout, kiwi and sapphire

May 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm
(96) Tina says:

totally heartwarming stories, I have MS and my little old man is my bestist friend, dont know what I’d do without him!

May 16, 2013 at 11:16 am
(97) ellen says:

I have a sweet little dog, a rescue dog who was very scared, wary & shaking when i got her & she’s turned into the best little companion ever. She’s called Sulu ( yes, after mr sulu in startrek)..not cos i’m a trekkie but as a bit of fun..she was called Lulu when i got her but somehow it didint suit her. She ‘s there when i need a cuddle, when i need company, best of all i can tell her the problems i have with ms etc & i know she doesnt understand language but she senses my moods & whether i’m feeling good or bad, she’s there. She loves nothing better than a snuggle on an evening..well, any time of day really, lol.She cant solve my problems or take away the ms but she helps me get thru it all.I love her to bits..& i see in her eyes her love & happiness which can go a helluva way to making days more dealable. : )

May 18, 2013 at 9:18 am
(98) Anna says:

I have 2 shelties and they each have their own way of trying assist. The female keeps things light and always brings her toy to play and get my mind off of exhaustion. The male, puts his head on my lap or hand and is just there for me. They completely understand!!! Like so many of you have said they don’t judge. They take me with all the baggage. How amazing. In fact yesterday I was making a bed and I got really tired so after I was done I laid down. He was right there looking at me and jumped
Up and laid right over my torso as if to say to the human,
Just stay…. Haha. Rest I’ve got you.. He is my rock.He does this a lot Once I heard a story of why dogs don’t live as long as we do. And a child replied, they don’t have to because they know how to live life. SOOO unconditional.

June 18, 2013 at 6:21 am
(99) Greg Pitt says:

Good Morning,

I would like your advice please, In 1994 I left to go work abroad in the UK where I had my own building and renovating company. Later on in life I realized that being in nature and around animals was what made me happy and content.
I lived in a small town called Tetbury where hunting and polo was a huge part of their lives.
I got a job working on a Hunting Polo Estate where my duties where to help with the horses and the hounds.
This was something knew to me but I found that I had a real connection with the animals. I started working allot with the hounds and really felt that I was making a difference in their upkeep and training.

In 2008 I was diagnosed with MS, and in 2010 I returned to SA so that I could get in sorted out.
Being back in SA has had many challenges and has really being a huge eye opener to me.

In the UK dogs and pets are considered part of the family and the upkeep and training is at such a high standard that the animals are excepted in every day life.

My question to you is how could I get involved in working with dogs, that aid people.
Dogs that help people with MS and other problems that occur in the struggles of life and getting around day to day challenges.
I’ve tried emailing the SPCA to see if I could work with dogs but I had no response from them.
I am unemployed due to my MS and generally no work in SA.
I would really like to persue my interests and work where both me and the dogs could benefit.

Thank You so much for your time
Greg Pitt

April 28, 2014 at 3:17 pm
(100) Lauren says:

I have an Australian Kelpie/Rottie mix, named Achilles. I have had him for almost a month now. I was diagnosed with M.S. two months ago and decided I needed some emotional support (I am away from my home in college), and he has been the best thing to ever happen to me. My MS isn’t advanced, and there may be a possibility that it may never get too bad, but I have been training him for two weeks for a service dog training coarse. I am going to get him made into my own personal service dog. I am happy every day that I have him, and I know I made the right choice in adopting him. He has had a hard life too, he is missing an eye and has a very audible heart murmur. I love him and no matter what people say, a shelter dog saves you, just as much as you save it.

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