Old Dogs, New Tricks

A few years ago we heard about dogs predicting seizures especially in young patients who adopted these dogs and could lead a better life.

Why would I be surprised this week that dogs can sniff out cancer. In the US, dogs are reviled as leaving poop behind and misbehaving around people of all ages and other dogs. This lasting impression of dogs and their owners is not correct.

Nearly everyone who takes their dog for a walk or to a park to socialize with other people and their dogs is a well-trained dog. My dog is ten years old now, and she’d be a good hospice therapy dog but will not be allowed because she eats frozen raw food. I offered to create a training and volunteer program for a local rehabilitation hospital (mostly older folks and some car wreck youth) and tried three times and after meeting the volunteer coordinator she never called back.

Everyone in the neighborhood knows our dog, Zoe. People I don’t even know pet her (my husband and I usually take her out separately) and say her name.

I truly believe dogs have a bond with humans and their senses that go way beyond ours, including sight and smell and if their senses can catch a seizure or heart attack when a child’s mother or father may have taken five seconds to stir the tomato sauce we should think again about making dogs a part of the family.

Part of the family means being allowed to fairly share public parks with others through a number of mechanisms. My dog is ten now, and she’s a hit with everyone. Many shy children have started to open up just because Zoe did a trick for them or walked on the leash for a few feet with them holding that leash. One child never talked to me until now after months seeing Zoe and asking “where’s your dog?” Now I ask him about school and what he learned today.

Cats, on the other hand… I love them dearly but cannot have one in the house because of my husband’s allergies. Years ago Alzheimer’s facilities started having therapy cats. Right now we have Zoe and want to make sure her senior years are well spent. Cheers to therapy dogs and cats and the folks who made this happen! Dee



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