Traffic on the way to the airport makes you late. Rushing, fearing you’ll miss your flight, you anxiously stand in endless check-in and security lines, annoyed at the delay. Your stress level increases with every passing minute. Finally clearing security, sitting to put your shoes back on, you notice something unusual across the room: an enormous harlequin Great Dane wearing a vest that says, “Pet me!” A smile breaks across your face and your blood pressure immediately drops. You say a quick hello to the dog and rub his soft ears, and the tension of the past hours melts away.
They are funny, uplifting and sometimes seem to understand us in a way no other human can. Science is continuing to prove that the animals in our lives offer us much more than companionship. Simply by sharing our homes, pets can help ease our distress and protect us from allergies. Specially trained dogs can even sniff out developing diseases and warn us away from foods we should not eat. Here is a list of ways in which having a dog around can affect your health for the better.
Your Corgi is stung by a bee. Your Pit Bull snorts a foxtail, ingests snail bait or breaks her leg. Whatever the situation, you rush your beloved pup to the closest veterinary hospital and return home with a hefty bill and—more importantly—your recuperating dog.
In New York City on June 11, 1928, Morris Frank took one big step for the disabled and one giant leap for assistance dogs. The 20-year-old Tennessean, who lost his sight at 16, was fresh off the SS Tuscania after a month in Switzerland, where he had been trained by Dorothy Eustis to work with his first guide dog, a female German Shepherd named Buddy. A group of curious, incredulous reporters greeted him at the dock, demanding to know what exactly this dog could do for him.
Reading is indeed fundamental, but for many, acquiring the skill is daunting. Fortunately, thanks to some innovative programs and cooperative dogs, the challenge is getting easier to meet. Across the nation, dogs are lending their ears, and thousands of children who need extra help with reading and interpersonal communication couldn’t be happier.
When NYPD officer Benny Colecchia brought his partner, Blaze, a nine-year-old German Shepherd, to the lower Manhattan emergency veterinary practice where I worked as surgeon in 2010, the big, stoic dog was displaying symptoms of colonic torsion, an uncommon twisting of the colon. If it wasn’t surgically corrected, Blaze could die.
I am a prisoner at the California Institution for Women in Chino, where I have now been for 25 years. It is a hard and often cold world. On rare occasions, I would see dogs outside the fence, perhaps a stray or one belonging to one of the many dairies surrounding the prison. These sightings brought me both sadness and joy. How I longed to touch and be touched by these creatures, a joy that lived in my memories of “Before …”