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August 17, 2014

Animals As Healers and Teachers

Animals as healers and teachers

I am always with you!

A good friend of mine went through a difficult time recently. During a life transition, she moved from home to home and city to city. She didn’t have much of a support system (well, that is in human terms, at least!) but she told me a story, which made me remember why I started WiggleLess in the first place.

My friend travelled far and wide for two months, from the Deep South to the frigid Northeast… from the wilds of Maine to the peaks of Vermont. Throughout her trials and challenging journey, she had one constant companion – an abandoned little Yorkiepoo, named Bear. They rode in the car together for hours on end, listening to music and watching the world go by – looking for a place to call home.

She cried, laughed, and felt terrified at times of the untraveled road ahead, but no matter which turn she made, her dog was always by her side. He grew up in many ways on the journey, starting out as a little puppy in her arms, whose tiny soft ears she used to wipe away the tears; but as they made their way down life’s highway, he became a tough little cookie- making pit stops along the way, sleeping in hotel rooms, on couches, and even in the car! She always made sure he was comfy and surrounded by toys and treats since, as she said- although her heart was breaking from her own loneliness and worry, her primary objective was to ensure that he always felt safe and loved.


Our journey in life can sometimes feel long and lonely

Driving through the rain, sleet, and snow was no small feat for either of them and she realized as she drove that they were in this together- just the two of them- healing and figuring the next steps out, side by side. She noticed when she felt happy and positive, so did he- throwing his toys around the car and running with complete abandon in a field on one of their stops. However, when the sadness crept in for her, it quickly did for him as well. He would sit next to her in the passenger seat, paws outstretched, head hanging low- eyes glancing up at her with innocent despair.

It made me reflect on the transitions in my own life and the many times my pups have walked by my side during the ups and downs. During my battle with breast cancer, my golden retriever Cowboy was my dear and faithful companion; travelling with me to Dr.’s appointments, running errands, and being by my side during my most trying times. If I was tired, Cowboy would curl up nearby, satisfied that I was all right. Like my friend’s story, it was as if he KNEW what was going on with me, as if he could read my feelings and emotions.

During moments of unease and despair, happiness and elation, our canine companions offer support. They help us heal. That’s why I wanted to help them in return. WiggleLess is, after all, based on healing.

When my dachshund, June, was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disc Disease (also known as IVDD), the standard veterinary protocol for IVDD is anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, pain medication, and approximately six weeks of crate rest. Our vet told me, “Once diagnosed with IVDD, a dog’s back is like a ticking time bomb—because any movement can re-injure the back.”

So how was I supposed to keep June from being a dog? She loved to run and play and wiggle with excitement! I wanted her to feel comfortable and refused to see her suffering, so I designed a back brace and had one sewn up. She happily wore her back brace and was able to run and play again as usual, never again visiting the vet for back problems. Sadly, June passed away in 2012, but she left behind her legacy: WiggleLess Dog Back Brace.

Hearing my friend’s story reminded me of the foundations of WiggleLess- the desire to care for our loved ones and the power of healing. My friend also believes strongly in the healing power of dogs and knows she experienced what unconditional love looks like, through the eyes of her little dog.

They both healed during their journey together and she knows no matter where she ends up, one thing is for sure- her pup will be right by her side.



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