Three benefits ANYONE can get from owning a dog

We all know that dogs are great. I mean, who can resist squealing with delight when you see a bouncing Corgi butt or a the spotted mug of a Dalmatian trotting down the street?

Dogs have been an important part of my life since I was very young. So important that I believe my parents still have a scrap a paper from when I was in 7th grade that dictates that when I saved up one million dollars my parents would buy me a puppy.

I didn’t quite make it to one million dollars that summer (just a couple bucks shy…) but my family and I did end up getting a puppy and my true passion for our canine friends began.

I spent many of my post-college years working at doggy daycare and boarding facilities. Ultimately, I ended up learning A LOT about dogs. I learned about dog breeds, behavior, health, first aid, and training techniques. I read books about dog phycology, dog behavior and training techniques and I got to actively put what I learned into practice each day when I went to work!

I will always love dogs. They truly are mans (and womans!) best friend. With their caring, intuitive and goofy nature dogs are a lot like us!

So here it is; Three Benefits to owning a dog! 

  1. Exercise! Dogs need exercise. Fun fact: so do you! Now, the amount and intensity of the required exercise will vary depending on breed. You can get away with less exercise for some breeds such as English Bull Dogs or Pomeranians, but keep in mind that no matter what the breed all dogs need exercise, even if it is just a little bit! I have a 100lb Husky/German Shepherd mix, so we are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Sir Mac N Cheese requires a lot of exercise. He enjoys at least one walk a day, fetch in the backyard and some vigorous rounds of tug of war. All of those things require me to get moving too! Since my diagnosis of MS, Sir Mac N Cheese is definitely my number one guy to help me get my much-needed daily walk in!
  2. Emotional Support When I was diagnosed with MS and going through my first two rounds of Steroid Infusion Therapy Sir Mac N Cheese would not leave my side. He sat next to me on the couch, laid with me in bed, and even followed me into the bathroom. When I had a rough day he would lay his head gently on my lap and sigh deeply, reminding me to take a deep breath, everything would be ok. 1 When I cried tears of pain and frustration he would lick them worriedly off of my cheeks, quickly turning my tears into laughter. I have no doubt in my mind (not to mention there is plenty of scientific research backing this) that dogs have a way of sensing human emotion, and learn ways to comfort us when we need it. Think about it, from the moment your dog came home you have been his world, his support, his caretaker when he was sick and hurt, his teacher and his best friend. He is just trying to do the same in return to you!
  3. Laughter Dogs have a remarkable way of going from the majestic beasts descended from wolves that they are, to the worlds biggest goofball in just about the blink of an eye. unnamed Dogs never lose their sense of play, just like humans, even as adults they still enjoy the occasional bout of silliness! This makes them not only steadfast and comforting companions, but some damn goofy ones too! My dog makes me laugh on at least a daily basis. Maybe it’s the husky in him but he is one odd duck. But laughter does so much more than just make you feel good! Laughter has been proven to be beneficial in short-term memory performance, burning calories, lowering your cortisol levels (stress hormone), regulating blood sugar levels, boosting immunity and so much more! Laughing is good for us!

 

So tonight when you see your pup waiting patiently for you when you get home give him a big smooch and a good belly rub. Just remember, to you he may just be part of your world but to him you are his whole world. 

-A

 

The Power of Words

Today I have been thinking a lot about the power of words. I obviously have a passion for the written word (or I would not be blogging!), and anyone who knows me knows that I have quite the strong relationship with spoken words as well. I have never been the type of girl who holds her tongue and yes, it has gotten me into trouble more times than I can count, but I do not resent this quality I have.

Words and language are such a powerful gift that we have as humans. It’s one of the things that separates us from the other animals in the animal kingdom. Language is something that humans are drawn to. From our first words to our last, it is so present in our every day lives. We use language for communication, entertainment like theater, music and poetry. We can fill someone’s heart with love and comfort with just a few words and with the same amount we can tear someone down, or hurt them more than we know. Words are so powerful.

“Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if youSay what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave” – Brave, Sara Bareilles 

I talk a lot. Anyone of my family or friends will tell you that. I’ve been jabbering away constantly practically since I came out of the womb (seriously, the doctor told my mom that I had a LOUD cry, which is saying something coming from a man who delivers babies every day of his life…).

I’ve always been the type of gal to say what I think, even if it’s not what other’s want to hear. As I have matured and grown older, however, I have learned how impactful my words can be. It has not changed the fact that I still speak my mind and speak my honest truths, but I have learned to be careful not to be harmful with my words.

I am not always successful with this. I have said things I regret, have hurt people with my words. I have regretted not being brave enough to say something that should have been said. I am not proud of this. But we are all human, we all make mistakes but we are learning. What is important is that we recognize this and work each day to get better at communicating with love, compassion and honesty. All we can do is try.

I think it is easiest to forget how impactful our words are when it comes to those we are closest to. That includes the words we think and speak to ourselves! I want to challenge myself to be conscious of the words that I not only say out loud, but think. I want to challenge myself to communicate with my loved ones in a way that is focused on love and understanding, especially when we have a disagreement. Hurting someone with your words is not going to help you, maybe in the moment you will feel better. But you are actually hurting yourself and the ones you lashed out at. After the adrenaline rush wears off and the sense of needing to defend yourself ebbs away you will be left with guilt, regret, and sometimes, embarrassment.

You cannot take back words that have been said, good or bad. There is no magic spoon to scoop them back into your mouth. Once you send them out into the universe they are there. Forever.

Someday, when all that is left of us is our words, I hope that I will have left people with more smiles on their lips, laughter in their hearts, and peace in their souls.

-A

How do you beat the heat?

Many people with Multiple Sclerosis suffer from heat sensitivity. Heat can actually cause symptoms of MS to temporarily worsen, recreating old flare ups! Doctors believe this is because the increase in body temperature causes the damaged nerves to fire even less effectively. Similarly, when someone with MS get’s a fever from an infection they can sometimes have a “pseudo relapse”, where old symptoms will flare up but then go away once your fever clears up. It only takes a couple of degrees increase to cause a whole world of issues in an MS’rs body.

For me just an hour or so in the heat can leave me feeling severely fatigued, nauseous, and I lose feeling and have numbness/tingling in the right side of my body. But I LOVE being outside in the sun so much! It’s great for my mental health, as well as the fact that I could use the vitamin D (I am also severely vitamin D deficient). I’ve developed a few tips and tricks to keep myself stay cool in the heat. So I don’t have to totally give up my time with my plants and dog outside!

  1. Stay hydrated. I always try to drink a lot of water, but when I know I am spending time in the heat I make sure to drink extra! I also pretty much never leave home without my water bottle anymore 🙂
  2. Take breaks. I try not to stay out in the direct sun for very long at all. Even if I am in the shade, and the temp is really hot, I make sure that I take frequent breaks in the air conditioning to make sure I don’t get too overheated.
  3. Sunscreen! I have a newly found passion for skin care. The two golden rules I have found are MOISTURIZE and PUT ON SUNSCREEN! Your skin will thank you!
  4. Stick to the shade. I try to adhere to this as much as possible. For example, yesterday when my husband and I went out to lunch we asked for a table on the patio but not in direct sunlight. We had to wait a little longer for a table, but the restaurant was happy to accommodate!
  5. My neck cooling “towel”. I got a cool little cooling device at this year’s Walk MS: Twin Cities. It’s basically a tiny scarf that you stick in the freezer and it get’s (and stays) nice and cold! I love to slap that baby on when I am gardening or reading outside!

 

Do you have any tips or tricks for staying cool in the summer heat?!? I would love to hear them!

Stay cool my friends 😉

-A