May 15, 2019 at 10:53 pm #19153Charlene MarshallKeymaster
Our wonderful forums community has talked a lot about the importance of living with pets, and how these “furbabies” help us through our lung disease in multiple ways. Sometimes, they help us physically, mentally and emotionally. Truth be told, I couldn’t imagine living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) without my three-year-old golden retriever.
I was reminded via social media that I’d shared this post about the benefits for having a service dog when you have a lung disease, nearly two years ago. At that point (May 2017) I’d only been living with IPF for a little over a year, and could even see the benefit then of how much I needed my beautiful Abby. As the article states, I too always assumed service animals were to assist those who are visually impaired. I had no idea just how many other ways service animals can help us navigate the challenges of many different health conditions. Have you ever heard of having a service dog for those living with interstitial lung diseases (ILDs)?
After taking a closer look at this column and the multiple ways dogs can help us; I’ve tried to narrow down the top three ways Abby helps me navigate life with IPF. Those are:
- Anxiety Relief
Having a chronic illness can bring about many emotional and mental health problems. The calming nature of service and therapy dogs can help ease anxiety and petting dogs is known to release endorphins and reduce stress.
- Good Distraction
Looking after a service dog gives people something to focus on other than their illness. It can help patients develop positive routines and force them to get up and go out.
Service dogs, like all dogs, need exercise, so having a service dog encourages owners to get some exercise each day, which is an important part of pulmonary rehabilitation.
There are many other ways Abby helps me cope with IPF as well. I also suspect (as does my family) that she would know to alert attention or somehow notify my neighbours that something was wrong if I fell ill quickly. She is so in-tuned to my needs, and how I am doing that I don’t doubt she would somehow signal for help and this brings an added layer of comfort to me as well. On a lighter note, the “retrieve items” on that list made me laugh: despite Abby being a golden retriever, she is lousy at bringing things back to me. She has not yet grasped the concept of fetch, and if I drop something on the floor, she neglects to return it. All that said, she is such a wonderful companion.
Can you relate to some of the ways this article talks about how service dogs can help us with IPF/PF?
Are there any other ways your pet helps you navigate this illness?
- Anxiety Relief
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