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Posted on 9. July 2010

Love with Fur

By Trudie Mitschang

When I got my dog, Ginger, she was a tiny brown and white fluff, barely eight weeks old. A surprise gift from a family member, she was not the kind of dog I’d planned on. What on earth, I wondered, was a Shih-Tzu? My husband and I both loathed yappy little dogs and had our hearts set on a Golden Retriever. But that first night we brought her home, Ginger snuggled and cuddled her way into our laps and hearts, and she’s been a part of our family now for 15 years.

Pets enrich your lives in ways you can’t imagine. My dog has helped me laugh through tears, encouraged me to lighten up when I’m taking myself way too seriously, and in so many ways made our house a home. I remember when she was young how she would suddenly go berserk, racing through the house at break-neck speed, pausing at our feet for a quick tummy rub, and then taking off again. If only we all could embrace life with that kind of joy and enthusiasm! A typical canine, she always gulped her food like it was her last meal, and then she’d search us out and burp loudly in appreciation, wagging her tail as we burst out laughing every time.

A few weeks ago, the reality of how short a dog’s lifespan really is was driven home for me. I woke up to find my old girl (who is mostly deaf and blind already) confused and disoriented, wandering in circles and staring at the wall. Panicked, I rushed her to the vet, praying frantically that this would not be the day I had to make the “decision” every pet owner dreads. The thought of putting her down stabbed me with such grief I barely held it together while speaking with the doctor. I left Ginger at the vet that day - they needed to run a series of tests - unsure what the verdict would be. When I walked into my empty home without her and saw her favorite toy on the floor where she’d left it, I wondered how we would ever get past losing her.

As it turns out, Ginger recovered from that close call and is happily on the mend. The “decision” has been delayed to some future dark day, and we have been given the blessing of more time to tickle her belly, nuzzle her neck and enjoy her silly doggy antics. I am so thankful.

How about you? How have your pets enriched your life and your family, especially since your diagnosis?

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Comments (3) -

Connie K
3:19 PM on Saturday, July 24, 2010

Having lived in a series of places and apartments, I've never been able to have a pet of my own. That being said, I became the "aunt" of my friends' dogs - a poodle/terrier cross named Babe, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Obie. I'd see them 2-3 times a week and I would also see them every day when my friends would go on extended vacations and I'd dog/house sit for 3-4 weeks. I loved them so much. They absolutely went crazy whenever I came over (probably because they knew I would bring a treat with me). They'd sleep with me at night and wake me at 5 AM by crawling up on my chest and putting their noses in my face. If I was having a hard day, they'd crawl up on my lap or lie on my feet.

Obie didn't like it when I'd pack up to go home when my friends came home from vacation. He would come sit in my suitcase to try and prevent me from packing. Once, when I to go do something in the midst of packing, he took all of my clothes out of my suitcase, spread them all over the bedroom and hallway, and laid down in my suitcase as if expecting that I would change my mind and stay.

Both dogs went gone to Doggy heaven about 3 years ago now, and I miss them greatly.

Suzanne Colville
9:37 PM on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I was 49 and asleep one night when I woke up in horrible pain all down my right side, three disks had slipped out in my C-spine and compressed the nerve root at C-7, causing extreme muscle spasms and pins and needles all down the right side.  I had spinal surgery and when I wanted to go back to work, my company said no and placed me on LTD.  I became so depressed that they didn't want me back, I felt my life was over.  When I sought counseling, my therapist suggested that I get a pet, thus came my Tigger the Tiger Wannabe.  Tigger runs my house and me, he's a male grey striped tiger cat, 25 lbs., 36" from nose to end of tail and stands 12" tall from shoulder to the ground - a BIG boy.  He is by no means a "lap" cat and very independent, but when I'm sad he's right there, when I'm ill he sleeps beside me, when I talk to him he wags his tail, when he wants a drink from the bathroom faucet he calls me and when I ignore him and read my book, he will nip my leg for my attention.  Tigger also sits up for treats and walks sedately on a leash with his harness.  He did find out that if he backs up and pulls hard enough he can slip out of the harness, so I have to keep my eye on him.  Tigger's brought love and laughter back into my life.  He's friend and confident, he's never told my secrets to anyone and I love him dearly.

Carol K Keagle
2:33 AM on Friday, October 08, 2010

In 2009, I was diagnosed with Intercostal Neuropathy on my right side. The pain was excruciating and the burning even worse. I began cycles of meds only to have a reaction to so many that the decision to treat the pain with pain meds was agreed upon. Later, I was diagnosed with CVID and numerous other illnesses/diseases. Thus, began my journey of IVIG, Sub-q infusions, pain medications, and other meds for one thing or another.

I knew I was depressed and not feeling well on most days and felt I needed something or someone that needed ME. I mentioned to my husband one day that I really wanted  puppy. He agreed, thus our journey began -to find just the "right" puppy for our home. We quite possibly looked at, petted and cuddled, and played with at least 25 dogs. Most people fall in love with the first pup they hold - not me, I just didn't feel needed by any of the pups we had seen.

Within a few weeks, I had almost given up when I decided to visit our local pet store. There, in the owners arms was the most adorable, sad looking, fawn colored Pug puppy - chewing (or sucking?) on the store ower's sleeve. I smiled and quickly asked if I could hold him. Of course, "no" was probably not in this sweet, kind, soft spoken lady's vocabulary. As I held the puppy, he looked into my eyes, and kind of purred - like a kittend. I felt something, in my heart, that I had not felt in a long time - NEEDED. This little fur ball in my arms needed someone to love and take care of him, and that someone was going to be me. So, I bought the Pug, supplies, food, toys, bedding, oh...everything you can imagine, loaded the car and to home we traveled.

Since our new puppy was registered, we felt he deserved a fancy, royal name, thus Sir Albert Rufus Ray Keagle was knighted with his given name. "Rufus" as we call him fit right into our life. He is now a member of our family and nothing is done or changed without his approval.

Rufus takes very good care of me, staying as close to the bed as he can get when I am having a bad day. If I am sick, he lies at my feet and listens for the phone, door bell, or strange noises. He makes me move - I guess he thinks I sit too much or something because he forces me to get up and do things. Rufus loves to chase things, but loves even more fighting with my husband or I over the toy of his choosing. He is so funny when playing catch, I always laugh and chuckle for quite some time over his facial expressions and growls as he "fights" to hold on to his "catch." Everynight at bedtime, my husband will say, "Time for bed, come give mama a kiss and hug." Rufus jumps up on the bed, lays his head on my chest, gently licks the side of my face,then goes to the hallway to sleep in his bed right outside our bedroom door! Don't get me wrong, he is not perfect and never will he be.

What Rufus is makes me happy, has decreased my depression - I still need meds, has shown me loyalty and understand, and has left me feeling needed and loved just the way I am. I don't even get those things from my family! I love feeling needed, always have. I love Rufus as if he were my family...well, perhaps just a little bit more.

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