PET THERAPY FOR STROKE SURVIVORS

Open Forum- -I have a dear friend who suffered a major stroke earlier this year.  He is in his 70’s and has always been a very active person.  Needless to say, this has been very difficult for him, but his wife, who is a an amazing human being, found a way for him to improve and enjoy his life.  She posts on “Caring Bridge” and has given me permission to share thier experiences. Karen

We have a new family member! He is a small white dog that was found as a stray by Animal Control, and by a happy coincidence was taken to a grooming parlor owned by a friend to be beautified for adoption after the holding period had expired.  She called me to ask if I’d like to come look.  Unfortunately we don’t have “before” pictures.  She said he was filthy, and covered in fleas, mats, and burs.  By the time I saw him, he was clean, clipped, and cuter than a button. He’s probably about 5 years old, and I’d guess he’s a purebred Maltese – around 10 pounds and pure white. He has been named by Val (who only has a few words at his disposal), so our new friend has been dubbed “Welcome”.  Very appropriate.  He’s been here for 2 days, and he hasn’t done one single thing wrong, gets along with the cats, doesn’t know how to bark, is house trained, and most importantly is Val’s new best friend, and LOVES to snuggle.  Hooray for animal therapy!!!! When things are looking a little shakey, I point out Welcome, and a big smile appears.  Welcome has been the beneficiary of more kisses in the last 2 days than I’ve gotten in the last month!  He also provides Val with something positive to focus on separate from his own issues, which has been hugely helpful. One of our nighttime problems has been that Val often awakens with nightmares, and is horribly upset, which usually takes at least an hour to settle down from.  Last night he woke up with one, and I plopped Welcome in the middle of his chest, and he got a huge smile, and started talking baby talk, and was instantly distracted, and that was the end of the problem.  What a relief!   I am absolutely astounded that such a sweet and gorgeous little dog ended up as a stray on the streets, but we are about due for some good luck, so I am not questioning Lady Providence!  This was also a great week for Val’s therapies – his walking continues to improve, and he is now the proud owner of a forearm cane, rather than the larger “hemiwalker”.  The physical therapist, who is the one who deals with his legs (walking) is starting to talk about him walking totally normally again. His arm is also showing some strength, and his fingers are occasionally moving. It all seems painfully slow – as he is quick to point out – but when you look at the progress week to week, he is getting better quite quickly. Its a lot of work – therapies on a regular basis, and then practicing what they teach once or twice daily every day.  Luckily Val is a hard worker!experiences.

 

 

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