Pets Helping People with Pain
Every single one of us is enduring some sort of pain. For some it’s physical, for others it’s emotional, or psychological.
However, I have come to learn that the worst kind of pain is usually invisible.
I say it’s the worst pain, because oftentimes there is little to no support, whether it’s because the illness can’t be seen with the naked eye, proven with a blood test, or because it is kept hidden, due to unnecessary shame attached to the issue or illness.
While my profession is working with dogs, the truth is I’m almost always working with people who have lost a big part of their hearts, and they are looking for a way to fill the holes. Some are battling disease, or trying to help a child who is struggling with anxiety, drug addiction, or being bullied at school. Some have even lost a child.
I remember getting a call from a woman who wanted me to train her dog to be a therapy dog. I never want to promise something I can’t guarantee to deliver, so I said, “Therapy dogs are typically born not made” and she started to cry.
And it broke my heart.
Luckily, I was able to confidently speak the truth very quickly, telling her, “Even if your dog doesn’t end up passing to be a therapy or service dog, it can still be the best emotional support you or someone else will ever receive.”
Anyone who owns a dog knows every day when they get home, it’s like a freaking freight train of crazy love coming barreling toward them. While it’s this kind of radical love that keeps me in business, the truth is it’s the kind of love that keeps people standing, way more than it’s knocking them down.
It’s the kind of love the world is starved for. Any other kind just looks like a cheap imitator.
Dogs love Democrats and Republicans, the rich and the poor, the sick and the broken, believers and atheists, the righteous and the criminals.
They aren’t uncomfortable about certain subjects, nor are they afraid of behavior that society frowns upon. They will walk beside you and just accept your story.
There is nothing that puts you at risk of a dog’s love.
I have watched a dog get dumped from a pickup, only to chase after the vehicle for all its worth, until collapsing from a combination of fear and exhaustion.
Yes, they even love those who don’t love them.
Had the driver turned around, that dog would have found the strength to wag its tale, kiss that man’s face, and hop back into the truck again.
They are the masters of forgiving and forgetting.
Today I got a call from the woman mentioned earlier, who can now leave her house, and even board a plane because of her faithful, furry companion. She is living life again.
Long story short, in a world filled with disease, hate, and tension over religion, politics and race, sometimes the best medicine is to kiss a wet nose and gaze into a furry face.
Here’s to helping dogs help people.
I dedicate this blog to Dr. Sarah Kelly at the Kelly clinic. As an internal medicine doctor, specializing in invisible disability, she is working to increase awareness and establish a non-profit program to provide service dog selection, training and specification to patients.
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