Tru here. Will start this as Part 1 with Therapeutic value of animals and continue to subject of Service Animals.
My Pet Goose, PEEP
I enter the driveway and he notifies the world
that his favorite person has come home.
I enter his “territory” and his enthusiastic greeting is overwhelming.
He must lead when we walk to the park.
His proud carriage
and formal behavior
show each observer the importance of the occasion
(… and the importance of his “flock”).
We return home
and his quiet contentment
He enjoys me.
I enjoy him;
my beautiful Bird;
… my pet, Peep.
1999- Jan 3
Therapeutic Value of Animal: I think being around an affectionate animal is therapeutic for any disabled person. I suspect this is seldom more true than for someone whose brain is damaged. Christine Bryden discusses the benefits of purr therapy. I had my goose Peep (giving me a kiss in picture above). I had my wonderful Hero, and now I have Blessing, and lap time with my chickens.
15 years ago (March 2000) I wrote: What a joy Hero is! I really didn’t expect the comfort I receive from watching his enthusiastic welcome, or his arrival (rope in mouth) at my computer desk, with the unspoken request, “Don’t you want to play rope now?” When I am hurting too much to sit, and I lay down, he gives me a lick then lays down at my feet.
I will close this blog entry with my Memoir for Hero, but now I want to address other issues.
I believe there can be many many benefits from our contact with all of nature, but especially with loved animals. And it seems like the invisible strings of connection between myself and animals are more intense right now than ever before. Is it because of the dementia itself? Or am I simply more open to the possibilities because of my efforts to be so very “present” in the moment? Is it perhaps another result of more noticeable emotions, while more elaborate … (forget the word I really mean) mental processes are becoming so much more difficult?
… But at the same time I am forgetting their basic care. In the past couple months, more than half the time I forget to put the chickens back into their safe (very large) chicken House at dark. I have no idea whether Blessing (my retired Service Dog) is in the house or outside. Has she eaten? That is no huge surprise since I have no idea whether I myself have eaten!! I cannot be responsible for animals any more than I can be responsible for myself. Someone other than me must be the responsible party now.
I remember when I was involved with Service Dog issues and there were a couple problems when the handler (patient) lost ability to care for their Service Animal. Very serious complications developed. I do NOT want that scenario with these precious animals!
I also know that when my neurologist tried some prescriptions, the result was terribly frightening in my reactions to the animals. If Blessing even touched me then I had very strong impulse to kick her! It was very very scary for me to experience these intense impulses that I would only just barely stop myself from executing. And when I told the neurologist about my terrible reaction, he said to double the dose! Or he could give me something else to try and control that side effect. I was so angry! I followed the instructions then went immediately to my GP. I got off the medication and never returned to that neurologist (even tho he was the only one in our town, so now must travel several hours each way). So little is known about how each particular brain will react to the different things happening. Very scary when fragility of animals is involved.
Odd situation; if I had a Service Dog now, and dog had tasks to mitigate my dementia symptoms, who would be the “handler”? Again — someone else needs to be the responsible party.
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Hero was my Service Dog.
Written 2002: Hero seemed to be sore last week so I left him home and took the para-transit to water therapy class. Even with only 10 minutes in class, I was unable to get out of the pool and personnel needed to call my husband at work to come get me instead. This has never happened before. Hero, in addition to being my legs also seems to have a sense of my energy level and insists I get out of the pool when I am near the end of my ability to continue. He always got me out while I still had energy to get dressed & get to bus. I have come to depend on him for so much more than being my mobility.
. . . . . MY HERO . . . . .
Hero, I waited 13yrs for the right time to own a Newfoundland Dog, but you were worth the wait. You were everything I ever wanted in a Newf and in a Service Dog, and it is so very difficult to say Good-Bye.
I wanted a giant Newf that would fit the name of “Hero” and you certainly did. You captured my heart even though at 30-months old you were unwanted by your first two owners and mislabeled as dominant/aggressive. We changed your name to Hero and gave you a job; learning to pull a cart.
During your first weekend with us I began to realize what a special dog you were. When you perceived a dangerous person in the vicinity you just put your body between him and us. You were so subtle in your protection. But you growled when he later walked too close while being returned to the psych ward.
I remember the night you earned your name. It was extremely early (2am?) on a Sunday morning. You woke us up and took my husband to the side door of the house, but you wouldn’t leave the doorway. When he looked up he saw the flames rising from our neighbor’s house. That was an immediate classification of emergency, because she was bed-ridden and lived alone. The firemen and our neighbor agreed that you were definitely a Hero.
When I began to need a wheelchair we transferred your training to pulling duties as a Service Dog. You were a natural; within six weeks an organization filmed our partnership during an outing to the mall, and you were formally certified. (It normally takes 6 – 9 MONTHS to train a Service Dog.) Your abilities just kept pace with my dis-abilities. As I became more un-able, you became more able to meet my needs. You could even spot others who needed balance assistance. People noticed that you were pulling me and walking beside them at their pace so they could reach their hand out and retrieve their balance by leaning on you for a moment.
Then there was the evening that you wouldn’t stop staring and barking at a lady in the hot tub with me at the Health Club; she had an aortic aneurysm.
Your ability to predict my episodes of extreme fatigue 30 minutes ahead of time, even across a chlorinated pool, was amazing. Consistently you were able to get me to the bus stop before I could no longer hold my head up or hold onto your lead.
As you got older, it irritated me that you woke me so many times in the middle of the night. However, after I started using a machine for sleep apnea you enjoyed much longer sleep periods. Then one night you woke me up again; I had stopped breathing long enough that the machine thought it was disconnected and turned itself off!
What a Hero! Could any dog more personify the term? I already miss you SOOO much!
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Here are some Service Dog links if you would like to research before my next blog:
PS: This cold is just hanging on forever, and my cognitive abilities are having a much more difficult time hanging on, when the cold is sapping my energies, or causing inflammation, or whatever it is doing. At any rate, having hard time with commands on how to work this blog. growl snarl! ((My blogs normally take about 4 hours. This one was almost 8 hours. Now 2:30am & headed to bed.))
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