I spent my entire life with a dog in the house until 7 years ago. Due to various personal reasons, I ended up living in a rental property where I was not allowed a pet of any kind. As I discussed in my post Walking With Fibromyalgia, I started volunteering as a dog walker to help me get out and about again and improve my fitness, but what I also discovered was how much I missed having a dog in my life and how happy being with Sadie made me.
While researching more about my condition I discovered how animal-assisted therapy is being used to provide therapeutic benefits to people with Fibromyalgia. In fact, research has shown that spending time with a friendly dog can cause profound physical and biological changes such as:
- Heart rate and blood pressure decrease
- Breathing rate slows down
- Stress hormones, like cortisol, are reduced
- The body’s natural painkillers, endorphins, increase
- The immune system is boosted
Of course, being in a situation where I wasn’t allowed a dog was frustrating, but I found other ways to spend time with pooches. I signed up for Borrow My Doggy and volunteered with The Cinnamon Trust as a dog walker and RSPCA Sheffield as a microchip event assistant. It wasn’t the same, but it was good enough. Recently, though, we moved house and as an added bonus, this meant we were able to have whatever pet we wanted. We talked about it at length and decided the time was right for us to have our own dog.
I am a strong supporter of Adopt Don’t Shop and so I started looking at local rescue centres. We wanted a dog that was small so that we knew we could manage its needs fully and because my step-son is wary of larger dogs. As a child, I grew up with Dachshunds and I had loved them. I really wanted my daughter to grow up with a similar breed and so I focussed my research on looking for this type of dog. The problem is that getting a Dachshund as a rescue is quite difficult, they are a much sort after breed with people prepared to pay thousands to have one.
Through the power of Facebook I discovered a Dog Rescue page and with it a beautiful dachshund cross called Chico. They rescue dogs mainly from the streets of Romania and once well enough they bring them to the UK for loving homes. I was smitten and immediately got in touch. After filling in all of the required paperwork and having a home check, Chico was ours. We collected him about a month ago now and have changed his name to Jackson. He is absolutely wonderful. He has been nervous around other people and wary of things in the house, such as coming through the door, the television and so on, but he is coming along massively and is a firm fixture within the family.
We take him to dog training classes with Sheffield Dog Training and he is starting to learn simple commands such as sit, flat and stand. They have been great at helping us introduce Jackson to people and to situations that are in turn helping him settle into normal family life.
Having a dog has been fantastic, it’s so lovely being greeted by a happy dog who is pleased to see you, it’s so lovely to have a dog come and sit with you while watching TV and love to be stroked and cuddled. The more time I spend with him, the more I realise how desperately I have missed having a dog in the family and how grateful I am for being allowed to adopt him. He calms me, he makes me incredibly happy and most of all, our home finally feels complete. There is of course, that feeling of pride, in taking on an animal from such a background, making him feel safe and loved and giving him the time, patience and unconditional love, that he gives to you.
Do you think animals support healing of your Fibromyalgia? Perhaps you have found they relieve stress or perhaps they simply make you happy? Do comment and let me know.
My daughter has started her very own blog all about Jackson and what the two of them get up to. You can read it here: http://myjacksondiaries.blogspot.co.uk/.