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Let's discuss the comfort a pet can bring during difficult times
452 Posts
For some, just the sight of an adorable animal can brighten their day and lift their spirits. For others, interacting with a pet can offer comfort, relaxation, and rejuvenation. If you are going through a cancer experience, or supporting a loved one who is, you may find that you are comforted by a pet. 

Do you have a story to share about your own pet, or maybe a friend's pet who became more attentive to you? Or maybe you found comfort in watching a funny animal video as you sat through treatments. Let's discuss the comfort a pet can bring during difficult times. 
50 Replies
140 Posts
looking back a few months prior to the diagnoses, I realized my two dogs have been more attentive.  following me constantly, staying close, needing to touch me........ with them I can be me, not trying to put on a brave face, just unconditional love.
619 Posts
I have often thought that it would be great to have a dog around to keep me company, to make me laugh, etc. But what of the life span issue. I cannot tolerate a poorly trained dog, and hence would prefer to train the dog myself, but not knowing how long I will live myself and knowing that a dog can live 10-15 years, it is a deterant. What happens to the dog if I start failing and can no longer take care of it. It doesn't seem fair really. 
We have started feeding a feral cat, who lives outside year round and does fine. We feed him table scraps whenever he shows up. We cannot get closer to him than about 5 feet, but I guess it's sort of like having a pet.
33 Posts
I rescued a 5 month old puppy a week before my diagnosis. There were many times that I thought that if I had known, I never would have taken on another dog.  In hindsight, my puppy saved me.  She was my reason to get up when I felt like rolling over. We would exercise together. She needed me to be there for her. No matter what mood I was in, she was always happy to see me.  I didn'the realize how much that meant.
7 Posts
I am very fortunate to have a service dog . He is my Addison's disease medical alert service dog. His name is Chance and he has saved my life many times by alerting me when my cortisol levels drop. He also has his own service dog phone, if I become unresponsive then he hits the button which sends out a pre recorded message to 911! Last year in May he started constantly sniffing and putting his paw on my leg. I didn't know what he was trying to tell me at that time because I couldn't feel or see anything.....till june 19th-20th when my leg hurt. So I went to the dr who knows what my service dog can do. Things moved faster then and a diagnosis of leiomyosarcoma was given. Then 25 radiation treatments and surgery. Throughout it all my faithful companion has stayed at my side. Yes even in the hospital! I call him my dr dog. He's truely one of a kind dog and my best friend! I'm on my own all the time, so to have a 4 legged dr Dog friend!! He has helped me physically and emotionally!! Has anyone else had similar experiences with their pet (or service dog) Would love to hear about them! Thanks!!!!
2 Posts
My kitty brought me a great deal of comfort after my surgery and the days following recovery. She knew there was something wrong and would meow at the bedroom door and then at my bedside to wake me, even when i didnt feel like getting up. She would sit by my side when i wasnt able to get up and do things and just be there. It comforted me knowing that this little spirit still needs me and my attention. I felt that i could get over my pain to attend to her. She was the same when my husband had his heart attack. She stayed by my side the whole time. What a sensitive and lovley little creature. If you can have a little pet near you (germs aside) DO IT!!! The SPCA has so many loving little creatures that are just looking for a second chnace ans a snuggle. 
47 Posts
In September 2013 we were in Vancouver to meet with doctors at BC Cancer Agency. An ovarian mass had been removed from me in May. After international collaberation, they said that they were now sure that it was an incurable malignant cancer called FATWO. The only known treatment for this exceedingly rare cancer is surgery. Because the mass had been removed in its entirety they all agreed that I was for all intents & purposes cured. After 5 months of uncertainty it felt like the pa-dum-pum drum roll at the end of a corny joke.

For 20 years my dear heart and I had been lucky enough to share our lives with Pixie, the first Lynx Point Siamese I had ever seen. She passed away in 2008. The same day we received the 'all clear' I noticed a Kijiji ad for a whole litter of Lynx Point Siamese kittens - on Vancouver Island. Two ferry rides later we were cuddling with a new life partner who we named Freya.

In Nov 2014, after a well lived cancer free year FATWO recurred - with 4 tumours. Freya accompanied us back to Vancouver at the end of Jan 2015 for my surgery. My incredible surgeon, Dianne Miller, did her level best to remove it all.  But no complete removal = no cure. We stayed in Vancouver for the month of February so I could recover near my surgeon. Freya was integral to that recovery. She licked every small wound (mostly IV sites). She cuddled up with me in bed at first and later in the arm chair. She entertained me with her teenaged kitten antics. She did her best to purr me back to health. 

We now looked for the possiblity of holding FATWO at bay. Back at home we tried the only two treatments considered possibities by the oncologists (4). When genomic examination showed that there were no estrogen receptors we abandoned the Letrazol trial. The receptors for Gleevec existed so we tried it next. Gleevec was like pouring grease on a kitchen fire. The side effects were severe and the remaining tumour thought it was rocket fuel and grew. Now I am at home on palliative care. 

Freya carefully supervises my sponge bath each morning, giving the worker the backside of her tongue if I feel any pain.  She sleeps with me for most naps and at night. All tears are dried with her raspy tongue. She even brings me gifts - some more welcome than others. She still believes that purring will cure me. On good days I think she might be right. 

All I do know is that, without a crystal ball to predict my timeline, I live into each day enjoying my supportive family and friends; appreciating the many workers who make my life easier and more comfortable; and basking in the attention and unconditional love of this lovely feline.

Blessings & Good Cheer

452 Posts
Wow these are such wonderful and heart warming stories, thank you so much for sharing! I find it so amazing not only the comfort that a pet can bring, but also how intuitive they are to our needs- often more so than we are to ourselves. 

HenPen thank you for sharing that beautiful photo of Freya! She sounds like a fantastic cat, and is very cute. If anyone else would like to share a picture of their pet, you can post it right on here by clicking on the small photo icon. 
452 Posts
I'm wondering, do others have stories they would like to share about a pet who has comforted them during difficult times? I'd love to hear about them!
8 Posts
I am thankful for the company of my two cats especially on days when I am alone. They seem to know when I need an extra hug!  smiley
189 Posts
I have often said that I partially owe my life to my previous Golden Retrievers. During my first go around with Cancer, I went through a divorce and whether this should have happened or not, both dogs remained with me. I often felt that these dogs were dependant on me so I took them for a long walk of a mile or so each morning, thus giving them and more importantly me, exercise. Unfortunately they Have both passed on but I do have a 3 year old Golden that provides me with very faithful companionship.

13 Posts
Beautiful dogs. I had 2 cats during my first diagnosis with breast cancer. They were comforting when  I was tired. I loved snuggling with them. They helped so much. I am on my second diagnosis with breast cancer after 13 years in remission.  My current 3 cats have been with me through a lot. We have a strong bond. They continue to be a huge support for me.  They let me laugh and cry and snuggle when I need it.  I am grateful for them. They were even very kind to my left side and not pouncing on it since surgery.  Amber walked across my left breast without putting her full weight on it, which was so very good of her, because she is heavy on a normal body, let a lone a sore part. My cats will no doubt be a huge support in the days ahead when treatment begins.
11 Posts
I am very lucky to have this amazing dog in my life.  Hero is my service dog and performs many needed tasks since my car accident and back surgery.  I have 2 other pet dogs who are always ready for a hug or a cuddle but they wont take out the trash!!

If only Hero could learn how to cook!!

452 Posts
Hero is beautiful! Deenie48, I'd love to see a picture of your cats if you have any too.
105 Posts
Hero is beautiful.  I have a miniature schnauzer who brings me so much comfort.  However, my son is looking after her right now as I have been having problems with dizziness so not easy to get her out.  But I do miss her so much and will look forward to having her back soon.  But I know she is having lots of fun with them. 
10 Posts
We consider our life "Dog-Blessed", as in our rural home we have 4 dogs, and a cat that thinks he is a dog. Not a day goes by when they don't make us smile, laugh, or simply wrap our arms around them for a deep-breath of warm doggy love air.

After I came home from my surgery, our youngest dog, Tiggr, couldn't stay away from me. He was constantly along my side in bed, always at my feet, and had his head in my lap as much as possible.

My husband suffers from Post Traumatic Stress, and our Alpha is a Husky-Shepherd named Pinnaar. She is a trained PTSD Service dog and accompanies him everywhere. (More info can be found here:
(http://courageouscompanions.ca/). He says she saves his life everyday.

She was with us in the hospital during my diagnosis, surgery and recovery, and was asked by dozens of people he encountered, including medical staff, about what kind of a service dog she is and if they could meet her. Pinnaar was even invited to visit some of the other patients in the hospital.

Walking through a waiting room filled with frightened people in pain, she brings smiles and joy, and seems to instinctively know who needs a lick on their nose the most. She is particularily drawn to children, and delights them with a kiss and a gurgle. It's truly an amazing thing to witness - this brightening of the faces in a room of despair.

The blessing of thease animals, I believe, is that they make us better people - they bring out the humanity in us.
They are the "Heartbeat at our Feet", and our family Thanks Dog everyday for them. I could go on all day, but on my kitchen wall is a plaque which reads:
"When All Else Fails, Hug a Dog"

Georgein GF
30 Posts
Our Percy is gone now, but he, his feline soul is not 'deleted'- just beyond! Lynn brought him home one day, utterly unexpectedly, years ago. She was nervous because I am not the animal lover she has always been. Percy was a little nervous but that didn't last long at all. Percy quickly became the best marriage counsellor ever: live-in, precious and sweet. He shared our home for years, and even got along well with our neighbour's frisky poodle. There is no way to describe the love, the warmth, the trust that a pet can demonstrate, but pet keepers know what is meant by all of this. I began to see other animals as forms of Percy! I began to see animals in terms of Percy. I am much more of an animal lover than before because our cat was such a good example of a Friend. I think we called him Percy because he was a 'Persian'. I do not think it is fanciful to say that animals live after 'death' any more than it would be to say the we, people, do as well. Whether it is or not, I remind God to keep taking good care of Percy and I believe He/She does. Animals are not inferior to people. Just different. I think they are quite tolerant, actually.
Dave smiley
8 Posts


This is my life-line Tia. She helps me cope with all the stress.. I love her so much and she knows when I am feeling over welmed, she right their to clam me down. I truly believe Pets are the best medicine...
3 Posts
I also have a lab that is the love of my life i just wish homecare would at least help me out by taking her for a walk when they are here but they dont deal with animals
10 Posts
I agree that pets help us.  Ilost my dog, Brandie, on Jan 15th, I was devastated.  I am looking for another dog butit is so hard to indonelike her.  I will never find another brandie but looking for one that had same character. I feelsoalonewitout her.  She was my compaion,she slept with me, she cuddledand i just moaned, she was there andlaid her head on my lap, licked my hand to let mr know she was there and I felt so much better.
Pet are awesome caregivers.
100 Posts
Hi Maui, have you tried the SPCA for a volunteer to walk the dog? If you live in Ontario, high school students must do 40 volunteer hours before they can graduate, that's a place to look to. Perhaps other provinces have such criteria as well. 
Perhaps even volunteers with the Canadian cancer society have volunteers that might do it. I know the CCAC offers home care that includes odd things. Perhaps a PSW can walk the dog?
47 Posts
47 Posts
My husband, John; my service cat (wink), Freya; myself; our eldest son, Callum (21); and our youngest, Ryan (20). 
44 Posts
     Tks for the tears.  Saved me $1.45 in eye-drops.  Without our cats, Viv & I would be a different ball of wax. Viv is trying to train me to use their litter box.  She doesn't realize how much a mini JD Backhoe costs.
Garden Girl
23 Posts
I would like to share an interesting experience i had a couple of months ago. First of all I do not have any pets, never have so I don't know much about them.
In my neighborhood there is a beautiful Golden retriever. She sits in her front yard, no leash, she never bothers anyone.
Before my diagnosis I would run past this dog almost daily. She never barks, or chases, just a raise of her head acknowledge your presence.
I few weeks after my diagnosis I was out for a walk and was nearing her perch on the front lawn, This dog lifted her head, came over to me ( scared me silly) ( she is a big dog) and bumped my belly with her nose. She did this a couple of times and then stood in front of me as if she was protecting me from something.
I did the only thing I had been doing for the last few days and started to cry. She whined with me and I petted her and walked away. This happened a few more times. I finally met the owner who was outside one day with her and told him what had happend.
He told me her name was Sadie, and that his daughter had battled and lost with cancer and that Sadie was always by her side when when was sick.
I feel grateful and blessed that Sadie has chosen to acknowledge me and has let me know that she is there for me.  I look for forward to seeing her when I am up for a walk. She really makes my day
452 Posts
That's a beautiful story Garden Girl, thank you so much for sharing! She sounds like such a special dog, and I'm so glad that you get to see her on your walks. 
619 Posts
Garden girl- What a beautiful story.
10 Posts
Animals are very in tune with what is going on with people. Our dog follows my husband everywhere he goes in the house. It is to the point where we are tripping over her. She know something is going on and wants to be close
27 Posts
Thank you everyone for sharing. So many beautiful stories (and lots of furry and not so-furry friends!)

We are Brady's 3rd home, and Abbey was abandoned overnight at the leash-free park attached to the shelter - so needless to say, they need a loving "forever" home. For a long time, we felt that we saved them. However, when my dad was diagnosed with stage 3 nasopharyngeal carcinoma our world was rocked and after many months of treatment and worry, we realized that in a way they saved us. 

Pets are very in tune with their loved one's moods and emotions...Both dogs are very active and require lots of exercise and play. They love to run around in the yard and bark at and chase the birds and squirrels. Sometimes, it's very difficult to convince them to come inside when they're having such a good time outside. And even when you get them inside, it's often still play time. Whether they chase each other, or chuck their toys around the living room, they're often busy bodies.

But after my dad had his surgery and began chemo/radiation, he had to stop working and spend all of his time at home either in bed, or on the couch, very weak and tired. The pups knew something was off. They could sense their dad was sick and needed a calm and quiet environment. The pups traded in barking and chasing each other for taking turns laying on the floor beside my parent's bed, or snuggling with him on the couch (which they never allowed to do before he got sick!).

They knew he needed love, and they felt he needed protection. Dogs are pack animals and they know who the alpha is in the pack. When my dad grew stronger and was able to go for short walks to the check the mail or get fresh air, they both competed to see who could sit by the front door first. As for the rest of us, they knew we were all struggling to watch our dad go through such a tough time. The pups had an endless supply of wet nose kisses and lots of snuggling when we got home from work and from being away from the house. They understood that coming in form the yard on the first call, laying in the living room and being quiet and allowing my dad space and time to have the homecare nurse provide fluids and meds/have his feedings was very important.

To an outsider, they look big and fierce. They sit by the front window and monitor the street, and bark at any strangers. But they have the capacity to love and show affection and compassion. They are happy to see you each day. And when you're not well, they give and give and need nothing in return other than for you to be near them, so that they can know you are safe.

140 Posts
My beautiful crazy chocolate lab has been amazing as she tends to be highly excitable. And  I had to have abdomiperinal surgery, needless to say we were all concerned about her jumping and bumping me.   When I came home from the hospital, she whined a bit, but then calmly walked up to me and laid her head on my lap.  With me she has stayed calm and respectful, following me through out the house. With others she was her usual crazy self throwing her toys at people to play with her. 
58 Posts
Our cat is a huge source of comfort to us.  She's still quite young, and silly, and because it's now the rainy season and she can't go out for her daily leash walk, we have a rambunctious animal flying around the house all day.  We have to play with her.  That's the deal we make with them - they take care ofour emotional needs and we take care of theirs.

But she's doing something even more important right now. We just found out that my husband's stage 3 colorectal cancer is actually stage 4 and the oncologists missed the seconday bone tumour on all of the previous scans.  We've been together for 35 years, and never had any children,and I know when he's gone I'll be alone for the rest of my life - except for my cat.  And when I despair and feel as though my life is over, too, I remind myself that I have to be here to care for her, because knowing she had to go into a shelter would destroy me, just destroy me. She'll carry me through my grief and mourning because she's my girl and I can't let her down. 
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