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

 

Happy with a headache…

I have a headache. It’s funny, for someone who has a disease that affects my brain I don’t, and never have, had a lot of headaches. Growing up I can probably count on one hand the number of times I remember having a headache. Starting about two years ago I started getting periods of time where I would get headaches of various intensities quite often. Then I’d go months and months without one again. I’m in a headache period right now!

My husband was sick this weekend (finally feeling better this evening) so I am crossing my fingers that this is just a stress headache and not my already struggling immune system giving in to whatever virus he brought home.

I start my injections tomorrow, so I am pretty anxious about that. I played around with my “whisper inject” (automatic injector) without any actual needles/syringes and watched/read all the “how to” materials again. I wouldn’t say my anxious feelings are negative or bad feelings. They are more the healthy kind of nerves and tension that I always feel before a new medical procedure. It’s just anxiety watching out for me and wanting to make sure everything is safe and ‘ok’ before I try this new thus scary thing. But anxiety, I got you girl, I’ve done my homework, I’ve got a nurse coming to my home for the first injection and I will be OK! (positive thoughts!)

Ok, I HAVE to update ya’ll on the Sparrow Mom situation. WE HAVE CHICKLETS. I repeat! We have a birth…multiple births…hatches? Anyways, my (taller than the average human) husband walked past my hanging basket of African Daisy’s today and casually said “Oh, they’re alive. Watch out when you water this”.

Seeing as I was not bestowed with his same gift of height I, precariously, balanced on a patio chair and held my phone up so I could take a picture and “see” these “live” birds! And behold….sure as shoot Sparrow Mom is gonna be a busy ladybird from here on out!

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Don’t worry, I was very careful not to touch the plant/nest or disturb them at all!

So as anxious as I am tonight, for what tomorrow holds, this was mother natures way of reminding me to stop and take in all the beauty and life around me! It completely made my day. And I have to say that I am, in general, very proud of my plant and animal babies today.

 

The waiting game.

Multiple Sclerosis has already taught me a few things. Things like:

It’s OK to be tired and need to take a rest. No shame in napping!

It’s OK not to be able to do the things I used to do (like have the full-time job that I loved, even though I might have complained about it while I was working, I never realized how much I would miss my company, work and coworkers until I had to leave)

When I need to go to the bathroom I need to go NOW (come on, I have to be able to laugh about this one, right?)

But a big thing I am learning from MS is to be patient and to live in the present rather than worrying about the future. This is something I am still learning, and expect I will continue to learn through the rest of my life. Mindfulness and being present in the now is something I have worked on in the past with meditation but it has never been more relevant or necessary in my life. With this disease there is no way to predict the future. There are no two patients with MS that have the exact same symptoms. It all depends on where the lesions develop in the brain and spinal cord, what stage of the disease you are at, how your body reacts the treatments and medications. There are SO many things we don’t know about this disease (let alone why/how people even get it).

So I am learning…(let’s be honest, mostly struggling) with just letting go of the “what if’s”. You can’t spend your whole life worrying about the “what if’s” especially if you have a disease as unpredictable as MS. This is a really hard thing for me because anxiety LOVES “what if’s”! What if I progress fast? What if I lose my sight? What if I can’t be the mom I want to be in the future? What if? What if? What if? What if? Sometimes I just need to take a step back – look my anxiety straight in her bossy little face and say “Shut.Up!”.

This is my life and I am learning that I get to control it my anxiety DOES NOT.

So, as I sit here on the deck in the probably too cold to be outside but I am doing it anyways because… Minnesota, weather and write this blog I am actively telling my anxiety to be quiet and to just enjoy this moment. I had an MRI yesterday and will have to wait until Monday morning to meet with my Neurologist and get the results and that is all my brain wants to think of. But what is the point in worrying about something that is going to be the same no matter how much thought I put into it this weekend? Me worrying all weekend is not going to magically make the lesions disappear or my symptoms go away! So as my therapist always says “Why suffer twice?” anxiety makes you suffer before you’re actually in the situation you are worrying about.

So I am making a choice today. I will not worry all weekend about the results of my MRI. What will come will come and I will be strong either way!

So for now, I am going to sit outside and listen to the birds, get some much-needed rest after yesterday’s uber stressful day and be grateful for the now.

-A

P.S. Even though I am not a huge fan of Cesar Millan’s dog training techniques I do love this quote from him:

“Dogs live in the moment. They don’t regret the past or worry about the future. If we can learn to appreciate and focus on what’s happening in the here and now, we’ll experience a richness of living that other members of the animal kingdom enjoy.” – Cesar Millan