The value of an animal

Posted by Jim, Volunteer Mentor @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.)

@georgette12

This is my English Bulldog. His name is Weezer. He is my security blanket!

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@georgette12

What a sweet looking dog! Great picture, thanks for sharing.

Teresa

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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Hi Georgette …. I love those little French bulldogs … they look just like yours but smaller. I always enjoy watching them bounce around the ring during the Dog Shows … they move pretty fast for a little guy.
abby

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@amberpep

Hi Georgette …. I love those little French bulldogs … they look just like yours but smaller. I always enjoy watching them bounce around the ring during the Dog Shows … they move pretty fast for a little guy.
abby

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@amberpep

I’m sorry for your disappointing setback. I’m confident that you won’t be waiting long for your dog to present itself. Better to wait for the right one than to be hasty and have the wrong one.

Jim

Jim

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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Hi Jim-I was wondering if you would share how you knew how to train your dog to be a service animal. Thankyou .
Best regards
Ainsleigh

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@ainsleigh

Hi Jim-I was wondering if you would share how you knew how to train your dog to be a service animal. Thankyou .
Best regards
Ainsleigh

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@ainsleigh

I did a lot of research online about service animals and all of the ways they provide service and what jobs would be approved by the ADA. My dogs have been psychiatric service dogs.

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Hi everyone I'm new on Mayo Connect. I saw subject and just new it was something I know so well- value of a pet. This is gonna probably sound bad but I currently have 15 dogs, 1 cat, 1 rabbit and a duck. They are my fur and feather babies.My animals have done so much for me. I've had a rough life I have MD, Cardiomyopathy DID, biopolar and RPST just to put out manor problems. Anyway each dog is special and unique in so many ways. They are always my best friends, they can make me smile on the worst day. Taking care of so many animals has shown me what I am capable ,how strong mentally and physically I really am. They even now when I am physically having it rough day. They will help me stand when I struggle getting up. I am 43 and currently going to school to become a canine behaviourist. So dogs and humans can wonderful, respectful, bonds. I'm not rich but I my situation work because we help each other tremendously. I'm always told I have to many animals but comments like that cause rough days. I could go on and on but no one wants to hear all that. I just had to say I value my pets just as I do my family. Thanks for reading and letting me share

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This is one of my babies

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@momof7angels

Hi everyone I'm new on Mayo Connect. I saw subject and just new it was something I know so well- value of a pet. This is gonna probably sound bad but I currently have 15 dogs, 1 cat, 1 rabbit and a duck. They are my fur and feather babies.My animals have done so much for me. I've had a rough life I have MD, Cardiomyopathy DID, biopolar and RPST just to put out manor problems. Anyway each dog is special and unique in so many ways. They are always my best friends, they can make me smile on the worst day. Taking care of so many animals has shown me what I am capable ,how strong mentally and physically I really am. They even now when I am physically having it rough day. They will help me stand when I struggle getting up. I am 43 and currently going to school to become a canine behaviourist. So dogs and humans can wonderful, respectful, bonds. I'm not rich but I my situation work because we help each other tremendously. I'm always told I have to many animals but comments like that cause rough days. I could go on and on but no one wants to hear all that. I just had to say I value my pets just as I do my family. Thanks for reading and letting me share

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Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, @momof7angels. Sounds like your animals mean a great deal to you and are an important part of your life.

When you become a canine behaviorist after you're done with your education, what all will you be doing with dogs and their owners in this profession?

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This is my biggest baby Moo Cow. We have a special bond. He got parvovirus as a pup and the vet said he wouldn't be able to help him, to enjoy what time we had left. I wouldn't give up. He's now 4 yrs old 😁

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Well dang, I had a big reply back explaining everything about my schooling and my plans but somehow I lost it
I will explain all that in a few

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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My husband brought our cat up with him on this trip north. He pulled a utility trailer loaded with his tools. Cat rode in the cab of truck. We have taken her camping, but she had never done a long drive like this [14 hrs]. It's the first time I have seen her in 5 months. It was joyous to me to hold her again. She hasn't left my side. This morning for the first time ever, she voluntarily jumped up into my lap to settle down. It is quite a milestone, as we have had her for two years, and she is a rescue. Animals have always been a huge part of my mental health.
Ginger

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@gingerw

My husband brought our cat up with him on this trip north. He pulled a utility trailer loaded with his tools. Cat rode in the cab of truck. We have taken her camping, but she had never done a long drive like this [14 hrs]. It's the first time I have seen her in 5 months. It was joyous to me to hold her again. She hasn't left my side. This morning for the first time ever, she voluntarily jumped up into my lap to settle down. It is quite a milestone, as we have had her for two years, and she is a rescue. Animals have always been a huge part of my mental health.
Ginger

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@gingerw, I am glad you have your kitty and she is demonstrating how much she missed you. Chris

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@artscaping

@gingerw, I am glad you have your kitty and she is demonstrating how much she missed you. Chris

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@artscaping To be truthful, it may be because her little toes are cold. She is used to carpet and here there is laminate flooring except for a few throw rugs….. ;))
Ginger

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We had service dogs in 2009-2012. It was 2 minpins, a breed I usually despise. One was fully trained and donated to my son to be a support dog while he awaited an Autism dog. The other was sister to the dog that failed the final requirements.. but happened to detect my migraine that day (and every day thereafter) I had to rehome her because she did not have the full protection where upon Ernie was protected by my son's prescription. Not that I ever took Debbie many places under the service dog umbrella… Debbie was short for Diablita. Easy to see where she failed her CGC, lel. All and all she was just overprotective/guarding. Her other manners were impeccable but don't provoke her terrier spirit! The autism dog Sara arrived and 2 weeks later they died of intended anti-freeze poison when we flew to Disneyworld for a weekend and they were left at boyfriend's mom (this was a hi-dollar neighborhood in FL). Fatty(Ernie) helped pull my son out of the cloud mist and into the sun.
Of course or position on any lists after having a astronomically expensive dog die so soon in our care.
His next service dog was my mom's and became ours on her death, Trained by VA.she was certified as a service dog for my amputee mom,. Also she was a sugar detector. Had her CGC and certification approved by ADA. And she was not even a true dog. she was Carolina Dog/ MiniAussie dad X Red(eastern) Wolf. She looked like Barbie Coyote. She was the BEST dog I have ever owned or been exposed to in my life. Soft, smart, obedient, attentive, proactive, precognitive and cute. Fatty was my Boy's friend but She and my boy were joined at the hip. She even used to hide her two oopsie puppies behind him. We both cried when she passed due to valley fever. I'm still paying my credit card off. She had no immunity possible since she was not local nor responded to the meds only recent released for domestic canines. We have not even looked at another dog since the next to step up has BIIIG shoes to fill. I have no photos of Angel Kitty aka Fufei on this PC yet.

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The min pin certified service dog and support animal Roxy's Lil Earnst Borgnine aka Fatty and his Boy Boo. And the little monster Roxy's Diablita Moreno aka Debbie…my migraine detector.

Mesa-2010b

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