A patient recently recounted a development in her life that is worth sharing. Not long ago both of her elderly dogs passed away. While she has family nearby, she lives alone, and the house felt incredibly quiet with Jack and Max gone. She found herself staying in bed later each morning, and rarely taking the walks she used to take daily. While leafing through her local newspaper she saw the picture of a dog living at a rescue center. This dog was not a puppy… he was a 1o year old mutt who had been abandoned near a highway. The center nursed him back to health with the help of a local vet. My patient went to the center to meet him, and within a short time decided to adopt him.
While people and dogs have always shared a unique and powerful relationship, dogs have shown to be indispensable to people in countless ways. There are “assistance” dogs for the blind as well as the deaf. People who have a condition called agoraphobia, where they may be too panic-stricken to venture outside can actually step out with the help of a dog. Dogs can help people to be more active, or calm… helping to lower blood pressure, as well as relieve anxiety and depression. Many returning vets wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq are able to live independent lives with the aid of their dogs.
This patient wanted to stay active, and in the process enriched the life of a homeless dog, as well as herself.