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Jim, Volunteer Mentor
@jimhd

Posts: 1193
Joined: Aug 10, 2016

The value of an animal

Posted by @jimhd, Sep 16, 2017

I’ve had dogs most of my life, except in college. I’ve always enjoyed them as pets, and my wife has usually had a cat.
My life went upside down in 2005. I was falling into a really deep depression and made multiple suicide attempts. I kept thinking I’d hit bottom, but then I’d go down deeper and darker. I admitted myself to a small facility for survivors of suicide attempts, and stayed for 6 weeks, until I felt like I’d be safe again. I wasn’t really, but life went on. I retired and began therapy, and after a couple of years I talked with my therapist about training my dog to be a service dog. I had an Aussie/Border Collie mix, who was a wonderful dog, and after working with him for over a year, he became my service animal.
Barnabas went everywhere with me, and was of great service to me with depression, PTSD and suicidal thoughts. Everybody loved him. But last year at Valentine’s, he had a stroke or some other brain event, a week after a checkup at the vet’s, where I was told he had years left in him (he was only 9). That was really hard, especially since I didn’t have a therapist right then, and couldn’t get one until a year later. That was an 18 month stretch without a therapist, and the last six were pretty dark. I was fortunate to find my next dog at our local humane shelter, a few weeks after Barnabas died. Sadie had just been brought in that day because the people had too many dogs, and decided to return her to the shelter. She was fearful and skittish, but I felt an immediate bond with her. We left her alone for a couple of days, so she could become comfortable in our home, with us, and with my wife’s little dog, Pete. After a year, she’s joined to me at the hip. If I go outside, she follows, and comes in when I do. We have ten acres, so she has lots of room to run, rodents to catch, cows and horses to herd – they either ignore her or run her off – but she always comes back to me and sits down near me and watches me work in the yard. If I’m kneeling, she sits right in front of me for some petting. She’s very attentive, obedient and therapeutic for me. When I’m extra depressed or feeling the anxiety level rising, she lies in my lap and the pressure of the weight of her body provides calming therapy on my torso, for as long as I need her.
One challenge of having a service dog is public ignorance. Everytime we go out, someone asks if they can pet her (No), or just pets her without asking. If they don’t pet her, they talk to her, which is pretty much the same as petting because they’re drawing her attention away from me. Cesar teaches don’t touch, don’t talk, don’t make eye contact.
An issue I’ve been dealing with is lack of understanding of the difference between service and therapy dogs. A service dog serves only its handler. A therapy dog is trained to serve others, such as in hospitals, to provide calming therapy for people. I was asked to have Sadie certified as a therapy dog, but I couldn’t agree to it because of the differing purposes of the service and therapy animals. For 5 years, I was a Hospice volunteer, visiting patients for an hour a week, in their homes, in the hospital, in care homes – wherever they were. A few had house pets, so I left my dog in the car during the visit (always in safe, shaded places, with water). Every other patient loved having my dog come with me to visit them. I made an exception to the no pet rule with hospice patients because it meant so much to them. I had to resign a few months ago because they wrote a set of guidelines that specifies only certified therapy dogs could go with volunteers. I hated to give up that volunteer job. I think it helped me get out and interact with others, and it gave me a chance to give out to those who have a real need.

How has a pet or animal helped you? Share your story with us.

Of course, Sadie’s more than a pet, though she is that, too, but she provides the companionship of a pet, the devotion and unconditional love. I’ll try to share pictures of Barnabas (brown and white) and Sadie (black and white). (Sorry I couldn’t change the orientation of the picture of Sadie.)

REPLY

Jim, @jimhd

Your post about the value of animals in your life was inspiring. I so enjoyed the pictures!

By the way, how do you deal with “public ignorance”? Do you have a statement you use to discourage folks from petting or talking to Sadie?

Teresa

@hopeful33250

Jim, @jimhd

Your post about the value of animals in your life was inspiring. I so enjoyed the pictures!

By the way, how do you deal with “public ignorance”? Do you have a statement you use to discourage folks from petting or talking to Sadie?

Teresa

Jump to this post

My best friend and my son’s only friend was our dog. She died four months ago. I no longer have the strength or the time to walk another dog. I wish I did.

@hopeful33250

Jim, @jimhd

Your post about the value of animals in your life was inspiring. I so enjoyed the pictures!

By the way, how do you deal with “public ignorance”? Do you have a statement you use to discourage folks from petting or talking to Sadie?

Teresa

Jump to this post

@ayankeeinnm

I appreciate your sharing. My sympathy goes out to you in losing a valued family friend!

Teresa

We have Wally. We adopted him from a friend who could no longer keep him. He is our baby and we love him dearly. We have always had a dog and later took in a stray kitty who showed up on our deck. I totally believe a pet is helpful in our lives. They offer unconditional love and companionship. Also we need the responsibility of caring for them. It is wonderful to return home and have Wally to greet you as if you’ve been gone days instead of hours. 🙂

WallyStanding

@liz223

We have Wally. We adopted him from a friend who could no longer keep him. He is our baby and we love him dearly. We have always had a dog and later took in a stray kitty who showed up on our deck. I totally believe a pet is helpful in our lives. They offer unconditional love and companionship. Also we need the responsibility of caring for them. It is wonderful to return home and have Wally to greet you as if you’ve been gone days instead of hours. 🙂

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@liz223

Wally is adorable! It must have been “love at first sight”!

Teresa

@liz223

We have Wally. We adopted him from a friend who could no longer keep him. He is our baby and we love him dearly. We have always had a dog and later took in a stray kitty who showed up on our deck. I totally believe a pet is helpful in our lives. They offer unconditional love and companionship. Also we need the responsibility of caring for them. It is wonderful to return home and have Wally to greet you as if you’ve been gone days instead of hours. 🙂

Jump to this post

It was indeed. When the owner brought him to my home, I took him into my arms and told her I want him, I will love him and you can never have him back. He is a joy! 🙂

@hopeful33250

Jim, @jimhd

Your post about the value of animals in your life was inspiring. I so enjoyed the pictures!

By the way, how do you deal with “public ignorance”? Do you have a statement you use to discourage folks from petting or talking to Sadie?

Teresa

Jump to this post

Teresa @hopeful33250

If people ask, I saw no, and thank them for asking. If people pet without asking, I try to ignore them, and do something to get Sadie’s attention back on me, and I just keep shopping or whatever it was that I was doing. I’m not a confronter, so it’s really hard for me to ask people to stop petting her or talking to her. I know I should, if for no other reason than to educate the public.

Anyone have a suggestion that would help me deal with these issues?

Jim

@hopeful33250

Jim, @jimhd

Your post about the value of animals in your life was inspiring. I so enjoyed the pictures!

By the way, how do you deal with “public ignorance”? Do you have a statement you use to discourage folks from petting or talking to Sadie?

Teresa

Jump to this post

@ayankeeinnm

I don’t walk my dog, much as I’d like to, because my feet hurt too much when I walk (peripheral neuropathy). Fortunately, we live in the country on ten acres, so she gets exercise whenever I can pull myself up out of the recliner.

Some people get walking exercise machines and walk their dog that way. And sometimes a friend or neighbor will walk a second dog when they walk their own.

I don’t want to be rude by asking what prevents you from walking, and you can just ignore the question, but perhaps others might have ideas of ways to exercise a pet. I do understand how hard it is to lose an animal you loved. Is your son unable to do the job?

Jim

@hopeful33250

Jim, @jimhd

Your post about the value of animals in your life was inspiring. I so enjoyed the pictures!

By the way, how do you deal with “public ignorance”? Do you have a statement you use to discourage folks from petting or talking to Sadie?

Teresa

Jump to this post

@jimhd , Hi Jim, just politely say, I’m sorry she’s working now and I can’t allow “dogs name” to defer from that because I depend on her at all times for my health. That’s what I would say. Anyone who wants to stop and pet a dog, generally loves dogs, they will understand. Unless they’re totally mean. Maybe your dog and you will recognise this before they have the chance to approach you. I’m a defensive person by nature. My motto, ” the best offense is the best defense” or something like that. Still recovering from a bad fibro flair from the night before. Took a lot of meds. Sorry. But I mean it about the explanation at the top of my post. People will understand. Give them a chance to understand. Love, Judy

@hopeful33250

Jim, @jimhd

Your post about the value of animals in your life was inspiring. I so enjoyed the pictures!

By the way, how do you deal with “public ignorance”? Do you have a statement you use to discourage folks from petting or talking to Sadie?

Teresa

Jump to this post

Thank you, Judy @danybegood1. I appreciate your suggestion. I’m going to try it when I’m shopping tomorrow. I’ll have to write it down, or I’m sure to forget it. (I wish I had a better memory.) I know that it’s hard not to pet a pretty, friendly dog, especially for dog lovers.

Jim

@liz223

We have Wally. We adopted him from a friend who could no longer keep him. He is our baby and we love him dearly. We have always had a dog and later took in a stray kitty who showed up on our deck. I totally believe a pet is helpful in our lives. They offer unconditional love and companionship. Also we need the responsibility of caring for them. It is wonderful to return home and have Wally to greet you as if you’ve been gone days instead of hours. 🙂

Jump to this post

@liz223

We love Toby, our daughter’s shih tzu. She was living with us during the first year of his life, and since she was working, we had the pleasure of training him. Smart dog.

Jim

@hopeful33250

Jim, @jimhd

Your post about the value of animals in your life was inspiring. I so enjoyed the pictures!

By the way, how do you deal with “public ignorance”? Do you have a statement you use to discourage folks from petting or talking to Sadie?

Teresa

Jump to this post

Really sorry to hear, @ayankeeinnm , that you lost your dog. Losing a pet can be heartbreaking.

@hopeful33250

Jim, @jimhd

Your post about the value of animals in your life was inspiring. I so enjoyed the pictures!

By the way, how do you deal with “public ignorance”? Do you have a statement you use to discourage folks from petting or talking to Sadie?

Teresa

Jump to this post

@ayankeeinnm , I’m so sorry that you lost your best friend. How is your son doing with the loss of his only friend? It must have been devastating.

Jim

@hopeful33250

Jim, @jimhd

Your post about the value of animals in your life was inspiring. I so enjoyed the pictures!

By the way, how do you deal with “public ignorance”? Do you have a statement you use to discourage folks from petting or talking to Sadie?

Teresa

Jump to this post

@ayankeeinnm @danybegood1 @liz223

Our daughter’s shih tzu, Toby, is causing her a lot of stress. Every time her baby cries or makes some other sound, Toby barks. He doesn’t do it around any other baby, and he doesn’t react to our granddaughter’s recorded crying. They’re doing everything that a trainer, who came to their home, recommended.

So, to give them a break, we’re bringing Toby home with us after our visit with them for Thanksgiving. By the time they come here for Christmas, we are hoping that Toby will move past this habit, and they can take him back home. Our daughter is feeling the stress of tending to her baby, and at the same time, having to deal with the dog. We hope that Toby gets along with our Pete and Sadie. They were here for a week two months ago, so I’m sure they’ll take up where they left off.

I don’t think I mentioned that a month or two ago, Sadie was attacked by two large rottweiler/lab mix dogs, and would soon have been killed without my pulling her away from them and kicking them off her. One had her flank and was shaking her, while the other was at her throat. At one point, she was on her back. I was able to drag her to a door that was close by. She had a tear under her chin, and a number of puncture wounds on her back. I took her right to the vet, who cleaned the wounds, and gave her some antibiotics to take for a few days.

Sadie is now afraid of other dogs, and has regressed in some of her training. I’m a little concerned that she could turn aggressive toward other dogs. She had overcome her timidity in new places, but we’re back to working on that. I have her sit beside me if another dog is around, and reassure her that she’s ok. Of course, being a service dog, she’s not supposed to interact with other dogs or people, so it’s ok if she snuggles up to me when people (or dogs) approach her or speak to her.

We’re both still recovering from that trauma. I think that in time, Sadie will settle down and become less fearful with lots of calm reassurance. She’s still comfortable in familiar settings and with people and animals she knows. I hope we’ll overcome this, because I don’t want to lose her as my service dog.

Someone suggested I find a kennel club, so she could sit with me and just watch dogs in a safe place, but I haven’t been able to find any place like that around. I might try taking her to a dog park while we’re at our daughter’s next week, and keep her on the leash, without any interaction with dogs. We’ll see how it goes.

Jim

@hopeful33250

Jim, @jimhd

Your post about the value of animals in your life was inspiring. I so enjoyed the pictures!

By the way, how do you deal with “public ignorance”? Do you have a statement you use to discourage folks from petting or talking to Sadie?

Teresa

Jump to this post

Hi @jimhd

I hope Toby’s visit with you (and Pete and Sadie) goes well. Keep us posted as to how they are getting along.

Teresa

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