Science & Medicine

Animal House

Animal House

by Mary Hopper

There is probably no better way to wake up in the morning than by having a hearty laugh. And that’s exactly what Jasmine, my kitten, served up before breakfast.

The dogs like for me to be up at least by 7:30 am to no later than 8am. I have a hard time getting to sleep at night so I am stumbling out of bed to get to the front door to let them outside. As everybody is gathered round, Jasmine was getting under Rocky, the basset/husky, so she could slip out with the big boys when at the same time Rocky let out a throat clearing CACK which sent her into a back arching, hissing, turning in circles scaredy-cat dance-through-the-dining-room fit.

And one night a few weeks ago I had let Rosie the pit bull, along with Bo, the lab/mix and Cowboy my oldest Pom outside for their nightly potty run around midnight. I go back to my computer to wait for their return and about 20 minutes later, my doorbell rings. I’m wondering who in the world could that be at this time of night, maybe it’s my neighbor Fred who needs help with his wife or the newlyweds next door possibly locked themselves out.

I look through the peephole in the door and see nothing. I open the door and yup there she stands. Oh Lord, Rosie has taught herself a new trick and I’m doomed.

I learned I had ET (JAK2 pos) on my fifth wedding anniversary two years ago Needless to say, I went home and tore up the internet looking for information only to feel more confused by what I found. As the days and weeks passed and I got more relaxed about it, I was able to process the information much better.

A lot of it is still confusing but one thing that has helped me get outside of myself has been my animals. And I do mean plural. Right now I have three Pomeranians, one lab mix, one husky/basset mix (think basset body with husky markings, he’s my sports model), one pit bull and two cats. Everybody was a stray or rescue except for one. They all get along, thankfully, and I believe they are the equivalent of the Three Stooges, along with the Keystone Kops.

A menagerie this size is a lot of time-consuming work. The twice a day feedings, the up and down to let them out and let them in because we all know, nobody can synchronize the bathroom breaks around here. So, what do I get in return? Primarily, they keep me going …and surround me with lots of unconditional love.

For an MPN patient, there might be a special physiological benefit. They reduce my stress levels. Just watching them bounce off each other, or taking long walks, snuggling up for a nap or even preparing their food…all provides a stress free break from the day, from symptoms, from anxieties.

To back up my point I headed for Google and found such a wealth of material on stress reduction and pet ownership that I couldn’t select one. Lots of technical stuff about the hypothalamus axis and ACTH, and cell death caused by stress. Besides, some articles were pretty off the wall. There is one Australian study that measured the impact of dog ownership on 894 adults in New South Wales based on DAF (dog attributable fraction) and BBR (benefits to bites ratio). Benefits to bites?

Benefits to BITES? When I told Rosie this she about died laughing.

Back home

© Mary Hopper and, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Hopper and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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