How man’s best friend can also be man’s savior
Have you ever been blessed with a dog in your life? How about a cat? If not, that’s okay. The lessons in this post will still help or perhaps inspire you to consider getting an animal. I became a dog owner almost seven years ago.
The moment Roxy and I met, we were destined to be together. Roxy is a beautiful mutt. We also have a majestic Great Dane named Colonel. Yes, I am one of those people who spoil their dogs. Yes, I am a cat owner too. I love my cats yet I am certain I will always have at least one dog in my life.
It’s widely accepted that dogs can save lives. There are countless testimonials and studies demonstrating this. From search and rescue, public service dogs, to pulling people from harm’s way to pet therapy, guide dogs, to preventing injury or death, dogs are simply amazing. There is no denying the unconditional love and companionship they provide.
Two Ways Dogs Help Cope with Difficult People
1. Petting dogs (and cats) can lower our blood pressure ~ as well as that of our pets.
It’s soothing and connects us. Dogs also lessen anxiety, depression, and help with other conditions. According to Lynette Hart, PhD, studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts when there is an animal in the home. Their caregivers also feel less burdened when there is a pet; although cats are typically better in this situation because cats are more self-sufficient.
If and as appropriate, get a difficult, grumpy or generally unhappy person around an animal. You’d be amazed at how much lighter the person becomes and the shift that can take place. Be creative with how you can do this. If they are okay with dogs and neither of you has one, here are some ideas to find animal hangouts:
· A dog fair or event
· A meet up group involving dogs
· A friends’ dog
· A dog park or family park
· A common area for dog walking
2. Pet Therapy and Related Programs
There are several pet therapy programs where dogs go to various facilities to visit patients. These dogs have been trained as therapy dogs and let me tell you… frowns and anger can turn to smiles and peace in a matter of seconds.
Some assisted living/rehabilitation/nursing home facilities allow dogs and/or cats to visit their owners; as it promotes healing. There are also hospices and palliative care facilities that have cats visit patients.
Did you know that cats provide comfort as someone is dying? There is a great book called, “Making rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat” by David Dosa, detailing his experience with this.
Personal Dog Story Alert
One day, we took Roxy to visit my mom at a rehabilitation facility. Roxy is the sweetest dog and will lick you like crazy. She also jumps. She’s better now and can assume the sitting position but lord help someone who bends over to pet her. She gets excited and off she goes!
While walking Roxy down the hall, I saw at least five grumpy people; some yelling at their visitors or medical care providers, and when they saw Roxy, they stopped, smiled and asked to pet her. WOW. That’s the power of animals in action.
The beautiful part of this visit happened as we were leaving. There was a blind woman standing at the front desk with her husband. As Roxy brushed up against her leg, this woman’s frown turned upside down. She bent over to pet Roxy and something amazing happened; Roxy stood completely still and let the woman pet her. She didn’t even try licking the woman’s face. Roxy knew there was something different about her and behaved accordingly.
I have personally witnessed the power our dogs have to save lives many times over. When I became a full-time caregiver for both parents, they moved in with us. My dad did NOT like dogs. He tried and tried to yell at our dogs (can you imagine someone yelling at these two precious dogs!?!), push them away and let it be known he wasn’t happy.
After telling my dad that we all needed to learn to cohabitate, he realized I wasn’t going to give in. From that day on, my dad softened and his blood pressure and blood sugar were manageable. He started petting all our animals and even stopped muttering under his breath!
Man’s best friend became man’s savior one night when Roxy alerted me in the middle of the night. My dad was having his first grand mal seizure. There are so many such circumstances when Colonel and/or Roxy saved my dad’s life many times and saved my mom’s life several times. Both dogs alerted me to a third cancer diagnosis. Roxy alerted us when one of our cats was about to have a seizure.
Neither dog has been trained for this. Needless to say, Roxy became my dad’s best friend and savior from that day forward. What my dad didn’t realize is they were protecting him all along. Colonel would walk next to him ever so gently. When my dad needed to lean on something, Colonel was there. They worked together with an ebb and flow that couldn’t have been planned any better if they tried.
While these examples apply more for difficult people in hospitals or other facilities. As appropriate to the situation, see if there is a pet therapy program in your area and find a way to connect a pet with your loved one/friend. Exposing a pet to a difficult person can soften them up. From my perspective, it’s hard to be grumpy, angry or ornery when a well behaved dog is around.
YOUR TURN: Please comment below with your insights, experiences or ideas about how animals have made a difference in your life or the life of someone you know. Do you have any other ideas related to pets and difficult people?
Want more articles like this? Check out these articles:
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© Copyright 2013, Tandy Elisala, http://www.centerforinspiringgreatness.com and http://www.tandyelisala.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline and bio, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Tandy at firstname.lastname@example.org
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