About a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog called Dogs and Multiple Sclerosis. I mentioned that there were dogs that helped people with MS in many ways, including service dogs and balance dogs.
In this blog, I also mentioned that I was looking forward to getting a dog - actually 2 dogs - specifically, basenji puppies. I was looking forward to training them and working with them, as well as taking them on long walks. Over 80 people responded to that blog, telling me how much their dogs helped them. I was a little surprised at how much love people expressed in their comments. I have had dogs before, and I loved them, of course, but didn't remember feeling it as deeply as many of these people did.
Then I got my puppies - I loved them instantly, but they were a lot of work. After living through the first 2 months and getting into our groove in terms of housebreaking and routines, I suddenly realized that they were truly therapeutic.
I found that I talked to them constantly when no one else was around. I laughed at every little thing they did. I thought about them when I was away from them. I fell deeply in love with those two little puppies.
Now a year has passed and my puppies are dogs. They are still lots of work - they need to be walked, they steal socks and dishcloths, and get into other mischief when they feel like they are not getting enough attention at that moment.
However, I am convinced that because of these dogs:
- I laugh much more.
- I worry less about messes.
- I focus less on annoying MS symptoms, especially when it is time to go for a walk.
- I talk to all sorts of new people - people interested in my dogs and people with dogs that I am interested in.
- I snuggle more with my daughters as they, in turn, snuggle with the dogs.
- I feel better - physically and emotionally.
- I forget about MS for long stretches of time.
That's how my dogs help me cope with MS. What about you? How about your dogs? What are the ways that your dogs (or other pets) make living with MS just a little easier? Leave your story in the comments section below.