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    • #19501
      Ally
      Keymaster

      This week I had the pleasure of recording a flash briefing for an article written by our very own Mary Beth Skylis! Listen to it here.

      In her column, Mary Beth talks about the differences between service dogs, emotional support dogs and dogs who provide companionship. Like Mary Beth, I’m an animal lover and encourage everyone to get a pet, but it really depends on whether or not it makes sense for your lifestyle and needs.

      Do you have a pet? Are they a service or emotional support animal? Have you thought about getting a service animal since you were diagnosed with Parkinson’s?

    • #19567
      Rob
      Participant

      I recall taking quizz in a magazine about introverts. One of the questions asked “Do you like your dog better than most people?” After a moment of laughter, I pawsed (sp?) and answered YES, I do. Having a dog is what gets me up in the morning, a) because of the joy she brings, and b) because of her aging canine bladder.

      Over the past 30 years, we have had Labs and Goldens, all rescues from violent households, and each one of them taught me how to be a better person. A few years ago, my father fell ill and had to move into a facility that did not accommodate his companion. “Scottish terriers are not my thing” I told him, but the thought of putting her down …. Its a good thing she is cute because 10 minutes later she was in the car and headed north to cottage country. That little being has never been further than 2 ft from my two feet. I would be devastated if anything ever happened to her.

      I often think that seniors would make great companions for dogs, because they are home,  experienced at care giving, and could benefit from the perks that most dogs will offer. Ironically, it is because of their sense of responsibility that they decline the idea of it in the first place.

      I have been thinking about approaching the Humane Society, and suggesting a plan for a 2 or 3 senior co-parenting plan.     “Dog-Share” if you will. Covit 19 has intensified an existing problem with lonliness. Pets are most certainly the answer.

    • #19571
      Jan
      Participant

      <p style=”text-align: center;”>Rob, I enjoyed reading your response & love the dog-share idea though I’m not certain if a dog would love it. I’m not interested in getting a pet but that could change. We had a sweet Bichon Frise for 17.75 years. Nellie was a great companion but most of her life was during my pre-PD years. Shortly after I was diagnosed, my daughter called to chat & to tell me that she had read that pets were great therapy for people with Parkinson’s. Nellie was about 17 at that point & when I took the call from my daughter, I was mopping the carpet due to a pee accident by Nellie. My response to her, which is still my response today, was that it’s tough enough to navigate PD without having to deal with mopping up soiled carpets and getting up during the night or in the wee hours of the morning to go outside (especially when there’s snow or ice, as we have today in Minnesota!). That being said, I do miss Nellie curling up next to my feet and the unconditional companionship that she provided. I’m just not ready to devote a lot of time & energy to a dog or other pet when it feels like I need every minute of time & every ounce of energy that I have to try to live well with PD.</p>

    • #19578
      Jacque Walston
      Participant

      I’ve had a succession of dogs my whole life. Currently, I have Maxie, part poodle, part Shiz shu as a companion dog. I have not considered a service dog, but understand how they could be helpful with balance. Maxie is very smart, doesn’t shed but does require grooming. I had an older terrier and acquired Maxie after I became a widow and the beloved terrier died. Maxie is a good companion. If it were not for Maxie I would certainly succumb to depression!

      We have aged together (she was an adult when I got her). I’ve had her 15 years, so she is approaching the end. Although she is still healthy and spry, I am decreasing in my activities as PD symptoms increase. It’s harder for me to groom her properly. But she is a devoted companion who is my reason for getting out of bed most mornings. I don’t know if I will replace her when she goes. By then I may be in a facility and it will be a moot point.

    • #19584
      Mary Beth Skylis
      Moderator

      I’ve been trying to convince my Dad (diagnosed in 2013) to get a dog. My Mom and toying with some funny dog names. There’s “Mookie” after a baseball player that my Mom likes. “Kiki” is another baseball player.

      In all seriousness, I’ve considered getting a dog for myself and training it to support my Dad too. Do any of you have experience with service animals? Do your pets help you in physical ways as well as emotional ones?

    • #24355
      Alex
      Participant

      Emotional support animals are one of the most underrated ways of treating complex neurotic diseases like PD. For some reason, the official science neglects the influence they can have on a person’s mind and how well an ESA can influence an individual’s emotional state.
      They are also poorly recognized at the state level because they are not considered service animals and therefore cannot be registered as ones. Thankfully, initiatives like https://www.esaregistration.org/ help register such animals and issue a special travel document for them.

      • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Alex.
      • #24405
        Ally
        Keymaster

        Hi Alex, thank you for sharing. I completely agree that the therapeutic power of animals is severely underrated in many areas of health care.

        Do you have personal experience with service animals?

        Thank you as well for sharing that link. I hope others in this community who are looking to register their service animal companion find it helpful. 🙂

    • #24391
      Marie
      Participant

      I had a beagle that came with me from my first marriage. My husband fell in love with Snoopy. However when he passed suddenly from kidney disease it took us many years and a spur of the moment purchase to get another beagle. She passed last November after 11 years.  We, me, my son and the hubby were missing a dog. Mind you I am the caregiver for my husband and the dog. But, much to my surprise one morning I woke up and he told me he applied for a rescue beagle. And we picked up Marley on June 4. I have to say, he has become more active, and gone outside more than ever before in the last two years. He typically takes care of the mornings, and I go all day and into the early morning hours. He is a stubborn rescue, but we made it through his neutering during fourth celebrations.. and he is so handsome,, and a good nap mate after he wears down!

      • #24403
        Ally
        Keymaster

        Aww, thanks for sharing, Marie! I am happy your family has found a new furry friend. Animals can bring a lot of healing, joy and laughter – and of course love! – to a family. <3

    • #24408
      Marcia Drost
      Participant

      I was writing a newsletter for our monthly Brazos valley Parkinson’s support group, trying to find information on the latest meds, gadgets to help balance, eat, get out of bed, etc. when I found an article about two women with service dogs attending a conference.  Started doing research about service dogs and luckily while having lunch at Panara Bread, I spotted two ladies on the patio having lunch with two service dog puppies in training. I immediately went out to ask them whole lot of questions and I was so impressed by the organization they were working with, canine companions for independence, CCI.org  They also recommended I read Jason Morgan’s book, A DOG CALLED HOPE. The group provides a fully trained service dog who’s two years old and graduates with 42 commands. You attend team training for two weeks to learn about handling a service dog, caring for the dog, and the requirements to have the dog. There is no charge, for the dog, for the two week stay at their training facility, for the extensive training. What impressed me most was they said if I needed the dog to have another skill that was not already taught, they would help me train the dog.  Since my Parkinson’s is progressive and I don’t know what I’m gonna actually need in five years compared to when I applied, that convinced me to apply. 13 months later I got an invitation to training camp, and two weeks later I graduated with Sadie by my side.  She will work till she is ten and then retire as a pet and I’ll receive another service dog. Sadie has been with me for doctor visits, in the ER, picks up things I drop, pushes elevator buttons so I can keep both hands on my walker, and so much more!  Check out their website if you are considering a service dog – and tell them Marcia Drost sent you.

      • #24420
        Ally
        Keymaster

        Marcia, thank you so much for sharing your story and this amazing resource! I’m so happy to hear that Sadie has been such a great companion and helper to you. <3

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