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animal therapy/assistance?

BarbF01BBarbF01 Posts: 123
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Fibromyalgia
Backstory: I have a wonderful 5 yr old pitbull/corgi/black lab/boxer mix (humane society homeless puppy from hurricane katrina who is now beyond spoiled), who is a trained and certified therapy dog. Ike (the dog) already goes to work w/ me each day as I counsel kids who are in state care, and are open abuse/neglect cases.

Question: Has anyone, or does anyone use an assistance animal for help with their pain or "issues"? I have balance issues, depression and pain mgmt. problems - and Ike has taken it upon himself to be my angel. :) On the days when Im in worse pain than usual, and/or have balance issues - he takes it upon himself to walk right up against my side (as it helps steady me and I can lean on him if I feel like I may fall). Ive also noticed that hes a big help on those days when I feel down, and sorry for myself. Being a therapy dog, hes so used to being affectionate with anyone who is upset - and hes overly so with me. He knows when Im feeling down, and will bring me one of his fav. toys, or just stay by my side for comfort. So, I guess Im asking - if you do use an assistance animal - was it difficult to get your team of dcos on board with this idea? Or to even get the animal certified as necessary?


  • The closest I've come to this is I use to babysit a "Helping Hands Monkey" a Capuchin. Part of the baby sitting was continuing to reinforce her training. "Open, get, give, etc." So I understand the help these animals can give. I would guess that most doctors would be on board with such wonderful assistants? Please let us know how it goes. I see a helping animal as a win-win!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Naturally, since Im thinking about this, I have no upcoming Dr. appts! :) But, I am very lucky in knowing that Ike can come with me to work each day - no matter how Im feeling. And, hes also been trained to go out in the community (in a working capacity), and since he wears a working vest - I've never been asked to leave when I have him in stores. Although, when he's working now - it's to help the kids I counsel re-intergrate into society and re-learn how to be in public situations. Some of the kids I counsel are too shell shocked to even make eye contact with adults, never mind taking part in any type of conversation. Ike acts as a buffer for them, people pay attention to him - taking the focus off of the kid Im working with. Ike and I take kids out in the local community (where he's now well known and most people know what we do for work), and we slowly, but surly work on all sorts of things from their treatment and behavior objective plans.
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  • Barb,

    Even though you are unselfishly sharing Ike with kids from all manner of "bad" things, it sounds like you are also reaping benefits of his skills. :) I would take him with you on your next doctors appointment, and let your doctor meet your wonderful assistant, and then let him know *how* Ike has been of such help to you and your condition. What better proof than that? I can feel the bond in your posts alone!!! :X

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I don't know why, but I feel so selfish for feeling like I need the help. I'm guessing that stems from me always being the one who gives the help, and Ike not fitting into the traditional role of an assistance animal (I know, I see the irony as I feel no hesitation in touting the benefits of how he helps the kids we counsel). So, this is why I waiver on even asking my Dr.- Im also afraid of looking like Im seeking sympathy, or looking to "cash in" on my pain issues (yet another issue that I know I have...stemming from family issues where I was the one who was told to "suck it up" and played 2nd fiddle to a younger sister who had a medical issue when he wwere growing up - parents have acknowledged this and admitted that this was wrong, but I still harbor anger over it). Is it just my old issues stopping me, or is Ike actually a help to me??? Hmmm.... a social worker trying to evaluate herself!
  • Sorry Barb, I forgot you are a social worker! :) Makes no difference except...except...except...that you are trying to treat yourself as though a client came in. Stop that woman!!! :)

    Selfish, nope. Some of us get help with medications, canes, the hubby, a wheelchair, a "helping animal" fits right in there. You should NOT feel any guilt or thoughts that others (who cares what they think anyway) might think you're trying to play the sympathy card. Let them have your issues for a week, no a day, and see what they think then, right? Forget them. If Ike is helping these kids, and as an added bonus YOU, then you get the win-win here, okay?

    Please, please don't feel that anyone with any brain would think that is what Ike is all about with you. I don't even know you, and I can SEE it. :) Barb and Ike, sounds like a great mix to me!!! *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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  • Im just so used to being the one who helps others, that it's so out of the ordinary for me to be the one who needs the help. Even the Hubby laughs and calls me "hard headed", as he tries to gently remind me that he can (and does) help out - but sometimes needs to be asked/told what I need help with.
    And yes, I just need to get a thicker skin abotu my own health issues! This is all so new to me (car accident that started this all was in 12/2007) so I think Im still adjusting... But, thank you so much for all of your kind words :)
  • I hear ya woman! I just retired from 30 years of being a helicopter/jet pilot/Law Enforcement Officer, and to have run into those I had to help, verses "hook up" if you know what I mean. That was one of the hardest parts of my personality I had to realize to make my medical treatment and adjustments to same work. I am now the one that needs help, and as such, not feel ashamed, sad, less of a person over it.

    It is an odd adjustment to make. If you are still working as a social worker, that there will make your emotions zing back and forth. Let your heart lead your way. You are not weak or playing any kind of sympathy card, so if you need help, please embrace it. Your hubby is right by the way... wink!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • The Hubby doesn't need to be told that he's right! :) Hes also in law enforcement- like you, and we laugh about him having lots of power at work (as he's the senior Sgt. on his shift), but that he's not in charge of anything at home! :) And, I know that Im hard headed...but I am trying to work on that... at times :) And yes, I still work (basically full time) as Im contracted and have a very flexible/accomdating work schedule....and Ike to help me out too :)
  • I hear ya fellow of the woman club! (G) I was a Supervisory Agent, and many times Acting Director, but at home it is a 50/50 with us. :) Even after retirement in the LEO world, you stay with the Blue Line club!

    It is all an adjustment Barb. It isn't an easy transition, for that I can say with almost certainty, but it can be done. Please try and give yourself a break and realize that YOU are in need of assistance now - not a bad thing, really. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda,

    You truly have been a godsend tonight :) Thank you for all of your help and kind words :) My meds seem to be kicking in, and I may actually be able to get some rest. So, goodnight and thank you again :)
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