going to the dogs

Earlier this morning I wrote post on “juicing,” but before I could publish it, it disappeared into cyber-space.  Just a message and a simple reminder to write about that which is closest to my heart.  Those of you who know me best know that I’ve always loved animals. I had cats all the years while I was teaching and  simultaneously pursued my passion for horses and dressage in my spare time.  And when I made up my mind to retire after 37 years in education, I knew I wanted to do therapy dog work. Hannah entered my life exactly three weeks after I retired as an eight week old puppy, and so began my sojourn into the psyche and joy of canine energy. I spent many hours socializing and training Hannah, and she went to work as a registered therapy dog at the age of 16 months. I always knew I wanted to add a second dog to the household, but the timing was not right until this past March when I saw Heidi and bought her, all within the space of 24 hours. While Hannah is bold with a streak of stubbornness, Heidi is the opposite. Heidi attained both her AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy and Canine Good Citizen titles at the age of five months. She has amazing focus and drive to please. She will be eligible to test for her therapy dog title in January, and it is my hope that she will join the ranks of Nor’wester Readers as a canine assisted learning dog.

I took the photo above when Heidi was ten weeks old, and Hannah was four.

Shortly after I received my breast cancer diagnosis, Hannah sustained an iliopsoas strain. She was in excruciating pain and required heavy-duty pain and anti-inflammatory drugs to keep her comfortable. I was extremely upset — even more so than about myself! It just gave me a sense of overload. Given that Hannah was not her normal, cheerful self at a time when I was trying to sort my own emotions about my diagnosis felt a bit like a double whammy. The injury also put our therapy dog visits to our third grade class on hold because Hannah was unable to get in and out of the car under her own power. I did have to lift her on occasion, but hoisting 60 pounds of solid Labrador Retriever is not easy! The vet, who diagnosed her injury told me that it would most likely be a one to two month recovery.

In the meantime, I decided to take Hannah to my chiropractor, Dr. JP Kallelis, who is an AVCA (American Veterinary Chiropractic Association) certified animal chiropractor. He did some amazing soft tissue work and adjusted Hannah. She felt so much better afterwards. A week later I had her back for a second treatment, and since then I’ve seen an amazing turn around. My friend Nan gave me an essential oil mixture for pain which I have been using to massage the area. When I get the bottle out Hannah comes for her rub-down. She really enjoys it.

Heidi watches all this with lots of interest and tries to butt her way between us for some attention. These two wonderful dogs have been so therapeutic for me. I am so FORTUNATE to have them along with such an amazing support system of friends.

. . . and so it is

5 thoughts on “going to the dogs

  1. kyleann says:

    I’m so glad you have H&H by your side!! I feel myself breathing calmer just by looking at their picture!

  2. Margot says:

    Yes, you are lucky to have your 4 legged therapists to accompany you on your journey! Glad that Hannah is feeling better as well. I’ve tried to relieve Finn’s arthritic knees and hip with massage,and he loves it. I haven’t used any “oils” yet, but I might share some of my lavendar with him :-). Take care!

  3. Fran says:

    Enjoyed the picture of your two special loves. So gald that they are such a help to you! Healing thoughts & prayers are with you.

  4. mgrookett says:

    Hannah and Heidi are very lucky dogs to have you as their mentor and friend!
    You have done a terrific job in training them

  5. Bille Jean says:

    An amazing story Deb. I’m wishing you both well 🙂

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