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Showing and Telling
Your stories give us something to bark about
Connie Page submitted her photo and story about Cedar to our Show & Tell contest.

One of my favorite parts of my job is reviewing submissions for contests, especially Show & Tell. Your stories and photos never fail to lift my spirits. From funny to ridiculous to sublme, readers remind me of the many surprises our dogs have in store for us. They challenge us to be the best people we can be and then they reward us by putting their best paws forward.

Recently, we received a few images from Connie Page in Fairbanks, Alaska. In a short note, she described how her co-pilot, Cedar, stood by her as she fought her battle with ovarian cancer. Dogs as healing companions is an image I’ve seen surfacing frequently these days, from “Devotion” by David Weiskirch, an essay about how dogs helped his wife’s healing (Bark, Issue 60, Summer 2010) to Dana Jennings’ new book, What a Difference a Dog Makes, which grew out a New York Times blog post about the lessons he learned from his dog during treatment for prostate cancer.
There is something in the photo of Connie and Cedar that captures the spirit of this healing relationship. There is Connie, serene and beautiful in a breathtaking wilderness she knows is good for her and her dog. At her side, Cedar sits with her tongue loose from what has probably already been a wonderful adventure. She looks ready to spring and gambol as soon as the shutter clicks—and get back to the business of reminding her person what this living business is all about.
I’d love to hear more stories about the different ways dogs cajole, support and distract their people through illnesses. Comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter @The_Bark #healingcompanions.



Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com
CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Natalia Martinez | November 2 2010 |

I was really touched by this article and that gorgeous photo. Thankfully, I have not come in contact with such a terrible illness, but I can attest to an animal companion's sixth sense and healing powers.
I get really strong migraines, and in the worst of cases every single thing hurts, any sound, sight or smell is augmented and makes the pounding in your head all the worse. The nausea and dizziness is crippling and medication can often enhance it, and being pretty small at 5' and weighing less than 100 lbs, strong medication is often not the best solution for me. All I can say, is that my dog Corbin, a 90 lb black lab, probably knows I will be having a migraine before I do, he stays close, closer than he normally does. He often just places his head on my lap and looks at me in that beautiful way that dogs do, as if saying "I'm here mom". When the migraine hits, he'll climb in bed with me (without me asking him) and snuggle as close as he can. Holding on to his solid frame, listening to his slow, steady breathing and that strong beating heart, just knowing that he's there; that in itself is some powerful medicine.

Needless to say the amazing comfort they are when you are sad. We recently lost a dear friend very suddenly to a heart attack, and it's again, that quiet comfort and that solid presence and unconditional love that they give that speaks so greatly of their healing power.

Thank you for this article, and the links you provided, truly touching and very true :)

Submitted by Kayla | November 2 2010 |

In May of '07, when I was 15, I was diagnosed with a rare adult cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma. I had literately just recieved my 5th service dog puppy to raise, Quincy. He had to go with other temporary fosters while I was in treatment, but he was a huge part of my healing journey. I made myself get better so I could get him back full time. Turns out the universe really meant for me to have my heart dog, he was career changed for acid reflux. He is now my constant companion and my best friend. My cancer is incurable (but currently stable), I have to undergo testing yearly. Quincy is my rock in a storm. I don't know where I'd be without him. He is now a certified therapy dog so he can serve as a rock for others going through a tough time. Just today we were visiting our local hospital and came across a dear woman. She had been having a really horrible day, and Quincy totally turned her day around. She said "I was not having a good day, missing my own dogs terribly. Thank you for bringing this gentle soul to me on a day I really needed a furry hug." It's moments like that when it all comes full circle. Dogs have a healing power that I've never witnessed in any other form. I, for one, believe it was no mistake that "dog" is "God" spelled backwards.

Submitted by Bill | November 2 2010 |

My 2 dogs have been a great motivating factor in my most recent surgical procedure. I just had my Right Shoulder completely reconstructed last week, 10/26/10. I was feeling pretty sore, unmotivated and just wanted to not move. Yet, Avalanche & Bandit laid next to me and kept me warm while the sedatives were wearing off.
They let me get throught the first day w/o going on our daily 3 mile walk. But the next day they said enough is enough, it is time for you to get in to the swing and start rehabing. There we were 24hours later, 2 dogs in one hand back on 3 miles a day since. They know I am in pain and don't pull and when it comes time to "pick up" after them they are mindful and know it's a bit more difficult for "Ol Dad".
Avalanche & Bandit really do have that sence of when things are "off" and need to give Dad his time and he will still give us ours.
God Bless, Avalanche & Bandit

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