Canine PosseI was pleased as punch to read an article that covered how some hospitals are [finally] opening their visitation policies to pets, like Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Mayo Clinics in Rochester, Jacksonville and Scottsdale as well as in my home state at the University of Maryland Medical Centers.  [See:] As a nurse and lover of animals, this choice is a wise one.

Those of us who have pets, more commonly than not, consider them part of our immediate family. We appreciate how they fill our lives with unconditional love and devotion—frankly traits we wished we saw more frequently in our human family.  They seem to understand our moods (good and bad) and stick close to our sides when we are feeling bad and not at our best.  Research has shown how they help lower blood pressure, decrease our stress and often help us heal.

I was reminded of this last week after I tripped over a dog toy and fell on the floor—twisting my ankle. Oh, boy, did it hurt and was I scared that I might have broken my foot. As I yelled for my brother to fetch me an ice pack as I sat on the floor, my 3 labs stayed close by. Their heads were low (did they know I fell because of where someone dropped their toy?) as they strategically placed themselves around me. When I made the first attempt to get up and try to walk, they stayed close by.

Over the next few days, they were less rambunctious and less demanding for play. My oldest lab, Miss Independent, lay next to me on the sofa as I iced, wrapped and elevated several times a day –which she rarely does. I felt protected and cared for– did they know? I think they did. Now, I am back on my feet, not limping and the swelling has gone down. They are back to nagging to go outside for ball toss.

Over and over, I have heard about how someone’s pet has helped them cope with illness and pain. They are remarkable stories, much more profound than mine.  Do have one to share?

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