Pet Therapy: People and Their Pets Coping with MS
Animals offer more than hours of endlessly entertaining YouTube videos. Pets, specifically, have helped people cope with illness, injury, and emotional difficulties long before there was a name for pet therapy. From boosting your mood to providing guidance and detecting disease, our furry friends are always looking out for us.
We invited you to share a photo of you and your pet and how they help you deal with MS. Click through the slideshow to meet some special people and their awesome animals.
Nicole and Avi
I was diagnosed with MS in January 2013, which I've had for at least 10 years. In June, I had a craniotomy to remove a brain tumor, which left me out of work for six weeks. Thanks to Teamwork 2, I started my time at home training my service dog, Avi.
Avi gives me the confidence and strength to move forward and not fear MS or the many lesions in my brain, neck, and on my spine. She looks after my every move and keeps me on my feet. I’m no longer embarrassed by my MS. Avi gives me the security to share my story, even at my weakest moments!
Sheryl and Tyson, Cookie, and Peanut
There is nothing like unconditional love, and I get it every day times three. Tyson, Cookie, and Peanut are my constant companions. When everyone else is able to go off to work, they give me a reason to get out of bed and walk—even when my feet hurt.
My teeny-tiny MS mascot is my smallest Chihuahua, Peanut. She helps me raise MS awareness on my Facebook page. I'd be lost without my canine companions.
Erin and Hope
When I was diagnosed with MS, six months after my son was born, I decided to go back to my roots and find the horse of my dreams. She is my rock!
Horses are healers. When I'm with Hope, I'm MS-free. She’s gotten me through all my ups and downs. I highly recommend horse therapy. You don't need to ride them—just being with, grooming, and loving a horse will change your world.
Lois and Einstein
I had lost my job and my life to MS, and was in bed most of the time when this little black ball of fur entered my life. He was to be put to sleep, and having taken care of many orphans, I thought taking care of him would be easy. Little did I know, his cries for attention would get me out of bed and living my life again.
Einstein is my hero; he proved to me that I still had something to give.
Kate and Abram
I have a 16-week-old German shepherd named Abram, who is our family pet as well as my service-dog-in-training (SDIT). He hasn’t been in our family long enough yet to know when things are "different," but he’s learning.
Our first shepherd (and my first service dog) was a rescue named Tucker. She was with me during pregnancy and the early months of parenthood. She knew when something was wrong when I was pregnant, and was dutifully aware of our son when we came home from the hospital.
I was diagnosed with MS when my son was 6 months old, and she passed away shortly after. I’m sure she’s hanging around, telling Abram how life goes in our home!
Julia and Boo
When I rescued Boo five years ago, I never knew he was going to rescue me, but he does this every day with his wonderful soul. I’m lucky to have found him and can’t believe that no one wanted this guy!
Now Boo is a small service/companion dog for MS, and helps me fight it daily. He’s been certified and carries all my medical information in his vest pocket. He goes to all Bike Rides for MS with me, and is our mascot for WALK MS events.
Boo makes me smile each and every day, which sometimes isn’t easy with MS. The world needs to know about small service dogs!
Hannah and Raiden
In Japan, Akitas are symbols of health and Akita statues are given to those who are ill. Raiden, my Akita, has always been my good luck charm, helping me survive three rounds of chemo treatment, numerous relapses, and IV solumedrol steroids.
She’s always by my side, even in this picture where I'm giving her a squeeze before starting IV treatments at home. My dog never asks me questions about my MS. It’s that unconditional love that helps me cope every day.
Brad and Bliss
My ex-wife took my dog, Bliss, when she left me because of my MS. Losing my dog was worse than losing my wife.
Miss you, Bliss.
Beckie and Penny and Gunnar
My husband and I don't have any children, but I knew that I needed something to help me turn my attitude around. I was sad, lazy, and in denial after my MS diagnosis. Now I'm moving on!
My pitbulls, Penny (1 year old, on left) and Gunnar (4 months old, on right), keep me moving and laughing, and their training helps me mentally. They don't judge me or care that I have this disease. They love me unconditionally!
Karen and Chief
I’ve had MS for 11 years, and the ups and downs have been hard. My husband is in the Army, so sometimes he’s here and other times he’s not. We have two beautiful girls who love and keep me company, but my baby Chief is a comfort like no other.
He knows when I’m feeling down: he pushes his nose into my hand so that I can pet him. He’s there to calm me down when I experience panic or anxiety attacks: he puts his head on my chest.
If I have a relapse, he’s my bed buddy. He stays with me until my husband or friends come over to help me and let him out. I love him dearly. My life has not been the same since I got him.
Cher and Pups
My animals are my life. They know when I don't feel good, and snuggle up with me when I'm having a hard time with my MS. You would think that with their size, they'd get under my feet, but these smart creatures seem to know not to. It's like they sense that I’m not well. Their presence really lifts my spirit.
Frances and Chavito
My dog, Chavito (“penny” in English), got his name because he was a stray dog that everybody ignored as if he were a worthless penny. When my sister and I rescued him, his left hind leg was fractured, but we saw a precious “chavito.” We took him to the veterinarian where, sadly, his leg had to be amputated.
As an MS patient, I sometimes feel that my disease hinders me. But seeing Chavito running faster than my other six dogs reminds me that I should not let my ailment limit me.
Tonia and Frankie
Whenever I’m not feeling well, my cat Frankie never leaves my side. He always makes me smile or laugh. My snuggle buddy is full of love.
Lisa and Benice
Benice and I have been together since 1997. She has seen me through kidney stones, mono, Bell’s palsy, valley fever, my engagement, wedding planning, marriage, and now my MS diagnosis. She is my constant companion and I love her like family.
Berdell and Axle
My husband and children are very attentive. However, there are times they cannot be around. My Yorkie, Axle, is my constant companion and snuggle buddy. He's up for a walk if I am, or he's fine with lazing around on the sofa or bed all day too. He keeps me moving and always has kisses ready to show that he loves me no matter what!