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My Fibromyalgia Therapy Dog: A Progress Update

Friday 1 February 2019


From Fibromyalgia News Today:



My Fibromyalgia Therapy Dog: A Progress Update

By Christine Lynch
January 30, 2019
Copyright © 2013-2019 All rights reserved.

In this column, I want to update you on our dog’s progress in his journey toward becoming a therapy dog. Sadly, I must report that Sam’s improvements have been minimal at best since my previous report last August. The good news is that having him in my home has done wonders for me and my fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms. Stroking his silky coat releases oxytocin and contributes to my well-being. He’s brought laughter to my home, which is always a good thing.

We learned early on that Sam, a rescue dog, was the victim of abuse by his former owner. Our first clue was that he often cowers when he’s petted and sometimes urinates at the same time. He also urinates when he’s excited – which is whenever we return from being away from him, even if it’s only a half-hour absence. This is unacceptable behavior for a therapy dog.

Mopping up puddles was not the increased exercise I had in mind when adopting a dog, so I consulted our veterinarian on this issue. I learned from him that some dogs who endure traumatic beginnings (as Sam must have) never outgrow their fear behaviors. I’ve found guidelines published by the Humane Society to be helpful. We’ve been following these tips hoping that in time he will learn that he’s safe with us and his unwanted behaviors will improve.

I realize now that some dogs are not suited to becoming therapy animals, no matter how carefully you select for temperament or intelligence. But that’s OK. Owning any dog has a therapeutic effect — and I’ve also learned that they can be more work than I might like.


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