May 28

16 comments

Does Your Greatest Teacher Have Fur?

By Sue Ingebretson

May 28, 2013

autoimmune, dogs, Emotional Wellness, Fitness, Nutrition, pet adoption, Pets, rescue pets, Restoration Trio, Shelties, Stress, vets

DOES YOUR GREATEST TEACHER HAVE FUR?

Rebuilding Wellness Pup
Rebuilding Wellness Pup

It’s been a while since I’ve chatted here about Pup. I’ve written about my beloved Sheltie in my book, FibroWHYalgia, and most of you know that she pens (lacking an opposable thumb aside) a regular column in my monthly newsletter, Sue’s News.

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Pup (aka Foxy Grace), has been the boss at my house for more than a decade. She blew in like a hurricane wind sometime in 2003 and has now settled down to an on and off (mostly off) breeze.

As much as it pains me to say it – I must admit that Pup is firmly entrenched in her geriatric years. It seems unthinkable that this crazy, furry, frenetic ball of energy simply isn’t as energetic as she once was. She now decides whether or not to chase bunnies in the back yard. Most often it’s “yes,” but I can see the hesitation in her take off as well as the limp in her (still triumphant) return.

When she came to our home as a rescued pup, (yes, she’s a shelter Sheltie!), she exhibited startling health issues right away. The most drastic concerns were her absolute lack of appetite and massive fur loss. For a Sheltie, losing fur really is a fright. Some may even describe Shelties as “dogs who have a bunch of fur surrounding a sweet little face.” Sadly, within a few months of settling into our home, Pup resembled a hairless Chihuahua more than she did a Sheltie.

Our vet chased around some ideas, from parasites to mange, but soon enough, settled on a diagnosis. He said, “Let me tell you about autoimmune disease.” Fur with a Face

I was shocked. I replied, “Are you kidding? Let ME tell YOU about autoimmune disease!”

It’s no coincidence that Pup came into my life just as I was researching, studying, and seeking to confirm what I’d found regarding my own health challenges. Like a Sheltie herding sheep, my own research kept bringing me back ‘round to fibromyalgia and the autoimmune realm.

Of course, there’s no such thing as coincidences. I’m now far more aware and understand these Divinely Guided Events. Pup came to me so that we could heal together.

Upon her diagnosis, my vet said, “Changing her nutrition can help her to heal.”

Now … isn’t it absolutely nutty that my rheumatologist said – to my face – that what we eat makes no difference at all?

Even my vet (not to mention my dog) knew better than that.

Out of experimental curiosity, I changed Pup’s diet and began making her food. It turns out that she didn’t have an appetite problem. She instinctively knew that the foods she had been eating were making her sick. Even the expensive brands didn’t work. Once we changed her diet, she ate like a horse, had the energy of 10 horses, and her fur grew in almost instantaneously. She was practically bald one day and a fur ball the next. 

My mealtime experiment with her confirmed everything I was experiencing with my own health. As I’ve mentioned many times, I first changed my nutritional plan, then incorporated a daily fitness regimen, and the final piece of my health puzzle was to deal with my emotional wellness issues (sleep, stress-relief, etc.). I’ve since learned that the order of implementing what I now call, The Restoration Trio (nutrition, fitness, emotional wellness) doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter if you do them all at once. But, they’re all mandatory. No exceptions.To heal — you must eat well, move regularly, and deal (in positive ways) with stress and emotional issues.

Pup’s restored health was nothing short of miraculous. Mine was miraculous, too, but it took some time. I had to learn patience. And, for every step I’ve taken, Pup has been here with me. In fact, Pup has comforted, taught, and scolded me in ways like no one else could. She intuitively knows when I’ve been sitting too long. She makes me get up and chase her around a bit. She’d not a cuddler (she has strict lovey dovey limits) but in the times when I need her most, she stays closer than a shadow. She knows what I need and when I need it.

I’m willing to bet you know exactly what I mean.

Do you have a teacher with fur in your life? Or maybe yours has fins or even feathers? Share your story below and tell me how your beloved companion(s) have impacted your health journey!

And, if you haven’t found that companion yet, please consider adopting a pet from your local shelter. Here’s a great place to start: http://www.petfinder.com/

Can’t wait to read your comments!

  1. My little rescue dog has helped me so much! At age 71, I was reluctant to adopt but after pondering the commitment issues, I felt I could handle ….us. Lol. I don’t live alone anymore….I may list her on the next census forms.

    Zelda is half chihuahua and half Jack Russel terrier. She has undeniably empathy when I am in pain and stares at me with loving eyes….which actually helps me get through those times. She is good “medicine”…..and totally addictive. I thank God for putting her into my life.

    Im happy you have Pup in your life. Fur-therapy works, as we both know!

    Take care and God bless.
    Crystal Skolaut
    San Antonio, TX

    1. Crystal,

      Thanks for your lovely response. You’ve reminded me of a study I once read about. It said that we can find pain relief simply from looking into the eyes of a loved one (even a photograph). And, YES, that includes our pets!

  2. My dog, Archie, is my therapy dog. He’s a rescue too and I used to think I found him, but really he found me. He had Parvo as a puppy and almost died, so when I got him he had tons of skin problems, ear infections, and was skin and bones. It took awhile to get him on the right diet and get his skin issues cleared up. He still has some weird skin problems, I’ve learned. I changed his food last fall only to change it right back a few months later when the skin problems came back. He’s back to normal now. He knows when I’m really hurting, he snuggles with me and often positions himself on whichever hip or leg is aching the most to share his body heat with me. He knows when I’ve been sitting too long and annoys me until I get up and play with him or walk him. He motivates me to walk and exercise. I’m going through a divorce now and he’s been amazing. He comes running when I’m sad and licks the tears away. He’ll do something cute that makes me laugh so then he keeps doing it to keep me laughing. He doesn’t like when I cry.

    When I was at my worst in February 2012 with my fibromyalgia, he literally knocked me on my butt and made me rethink how I was getting through the days. I let him out on a big leash and he dashed off after a squirrel so fast the leash swept my legs out from under me. I was bruised from my fall but it was the final straw and led to me taking a 10-week medical leave from work so I could work on my health, nutrition, and emotional wellbeing and start clawing my way back from the sea of pain I was lost in. That leave from work was a huge turning point in my health and he was with me every day for it. He always knows when he can push me to be more active and when he can’t. I don’t know what I would do without him. I know I wouldn’t be in as healthy a place now without him though.

    1. What an amazing tribute, Laura! Thanks so much for sharing your story with Archie. I know that our pets do so much for us and it’s fun to share how we all have varied (yet similar!) experiences. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. As you know, I love your little girl and was thrilled to see you write in depth about her wonderful charm and the magic she works on you and her Daddy. She is quite grand!

    I was also happy to see you include a link to Pet Finders. It is so important that we realize we are all connected and that our non-human friends and family members keep us healthy and grounded. And everyone needs a home; shelters and rescue organizations are filled beyond capacity. Everyone should know the joy non-humans bring. Dogs, cats, horses, bunny rabbits, pigs, chickens, cows, donkeys, turtles and others have all brought joy to my life. They are, in fact, the best parts of my life!

    And always spay or neuter your babies since there are too many and not enough homes.

    1. Thanks for the great comment, Jana. Not everyone has the time, resources, environment, etc. to provide a good home for pets, but for those who can – adopting a pet is a great solution. I too have had pups, kitties, bunnies, turtles, birds, fish, and a variety of other non-human companions. Maybe it’s their very non-humaness that gives them the edge on being loving partners in our lives?

  4. My jack Russell is a one year old ball of energy. Spoilt and likes to have his way.
    But somehow he knows when there is pain in my body. On my bad days he slows right down and stays with me. One day I was going through a sleeping/pain episode. He came into bed with me and put his back against mine and slept with me for most of the day. The warmth of his body was comforting and helped me to relax. He senses when things are not right and becomes super protective. Yes fury friends are a great asset.
    Thanks for your great post.

    1. You’re so very welcome, Kelly. I know we can all relate. Pup curls up behind me, too with her back up against mine. She’s only 9 1/2 pounds, but she shows a lot of love per ounce. I know your pup is the same. Thanks for the great comment.

  5. Oh I love your story! I am so glad you found the right diet for your pup and yourself. I can say during these past 4 years dealing with an illness, my four legged children have given me so much joy and comfort. They know when I need a cuddle and they wrap themselves around me! Their unconditional love for us is something humans could learn from them. Thank you for sharing Sue!

    1. I know that we have much in common, Lisa and the love of pets is yet one more thing we share!

  6. I have three Chihuahuas and a kitty. They all give me so much love and joy but I especially want to tell you a story about Pounder kitty. I was recently in the hospital for a week with an acute asthma exacerbation. When I came home I still wasn’t breathing normally. For the first four nites I was home Pounder kitty would get in bed with me and position himself between my left arm and body using my shoulder for a pillow…. then he stretched his left leg across me and HELD ME… literally, held me. If I moved him. He moved back. He was determined to hold me. When I started breathing better then he stopped doing that. It was totally amazing. He was taking care of me!

    1. Pam — what an amazing story! I’ve heard lovely things about cats and dogs (as well as other pets, too) that show their innate understanding of what we need. I bet your Pounder Kitty wanted to be right there, in case you had breathing difficulties. Pup will sometimes sleep at the foot of the bed with one “arm” over just the top of one of my feet. I call this an early warning device. She wants to know the very millisecond that I move.

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"True Healing requires a combination of healthy nutrition, healthy body movements, and emotional wellness. This is what I call the Restoration Trio" 
~ Sue Ingebretson