The Benefits of Having Dogs to Accompany Me on My CF Journey
When health challenges arise, this columnist is motivated by his furry companions
My two best friends love to wake me up every day around 6 a.m. They’re hungry and a little thirsty from a good night’s sleep. They’ll hang around in the kitchen and wait for me to give them their breakfast, and when they’re done, they both have to go to the bathroom at the same time. It’s a little bizarre, right?
Well, these friends aren’t humans; they’re dogs. Otis and Ruby are my wife’s dogs, but they’ve since become mine as well.
Like others with cystic fibrosis, I have to stick to a daily routine involving physical therapy, taking my medications, eating, and, of course, showering and getting dressed for the day. Since my wife and I began living together, Otis and Ruby have become an important part of this routine. Their part includes breakfast and a 15-minute morning walk. I look forward to the walks because it’s great to get a little exercise in in the morning, and Otis and Ruby love to sniff their surroundings.
If I’m feeling fatigued at any time due to my cystic fibrosis, the dogs are always happy to lie down with me and rest. They hang out with me when I do physical therapy. Of course, I pay them in belly rubs, one of their accepted forms of bribery. (Food is their preferred one.)
Dog lover for life
Having Otis and Ruby in my life has motivated me in a way I never thought possible. Taking care of myself and making sure my wife is happy and taken care of as well are big responsibilities, but the dogs have made me realize that I can care deeply for something that isn’t human. I didn’t grow up with animals, so while I understood the love that one can have for a pet, I didn’t fully appreciate it until I’d experienced it myself.
When I was in the hospital, the dogs were my main motivation to get healthy and be discharged. Returning home to my wife and family was important, of course, but nothing compares to coming home from the hospital, a long day at work, or even a quick trip than seeing their faces and getting as many kisses as one can handle.
When I was released from the hospital after a week of battling sepsis (with a bag to drain bile), I was still living with my parents. My wife was my girlfriend at the time. It was hard not seeing Otis and Ruby for a few days, because they brought me such joy. Undeterred by my lack of energy and mobility, I decided to get out of the house to see them.
When I walked into the kitchen of her apartment, they ran toward me and offered me such happiness, which I’d been missing.
The final part of our daily routine happens at night, when I take them out in the backyard to do their business. Otis usually goes to the right corner of the yard and Ruby, the left. When they’re done, I bring them inside and the four of us go to sleep. The next morning, we wake up and do it all over again.
All of this may be routine, but it’s something very special that brings me wellness in this life with chronic illness.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.
Good job Will.Love Dad
Will, all your writings for this publication have a way of tugging at one's heartstrings and this one really got to mine. Another great job!
I have CF n I ALAO HAVE MS TOO, N A ARMYWIFE TOO AND A DOGMOM, I LOVE MY DOG, THEY ARE MY KIDS..I DONT HAVE KIDS. I ALSO LIVE WITH MS TOO..SO, HAVING A DOG MAKES ME WANT TO LIVE T BE A OLD WOMAN N I WILL ALWAYS HAVE A DOG IN MY LIFE.