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Does Your Dog Comfort You?

Posted by Chris Crandall on

Rich Sadowsky

Yes. And they do more than comfort. I’ll come back to that in a minute. I have always had a rather special relationship with dogs. We are able to communicate very well. This ability got stronger after the 5 years I spent as a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB). We raised 3 puppies for Guide Dogs. The last one got “career changed” so we got to adopt her. She and I had a special bond. The guide dog puppy, Amiga, was with us during my wife’s final months before my wife died from a longterm illness. Amiga helped my daughter and I through the whole thing. She was a constant reminder of my wife’s kindness. It was my wife’s idea to raise guide dog puppies.

I went through some rough times after my wife died. The guide dogs were raised from a long line of labrador retrievers bred by GDB. I’ve had dogs all my life. But these were uniquely skilled dogs with high IQ and EQ. Their ability to communicate and understand humans was exceptional. Amiga was very special to me. I went up and down emotionally a lot during those months and years after my wife passed away. Amiga was always there. She could sense when I needed her and would come over and rest her head on knee.

One night she probably saved my life. I am a diabetic and I take insulin. It’s once a day insulin and it rarely leads to severely low blood sugar. But it is possible to have dangerously low blood glucose levels. Amiga slept on the floor near our bed. One night she nuzzled me awake. She never had done that before. I could tell something was off as I felt disoriented. I went and tested my blood sugar and it was below 50. That’s too low and you risk slipping into a coma and dying. I drank orange juice and had a snack. The dog knew I was in trouble and came to my aid.

The communications went both ways. One night I could tell Amiga wasn’t feeling well. I laid down on the floor with her to rub her belly. As I was snuggling with her she communicated clear as day to me that she had cancer and was dying. The thought was so instant and clear; I could see in her expressive brown eyes that she meant it. I took her to the vet first thing the next day. The vet of course dismissed “the cancer thing” at first. Then they did some tests and took an xray. The vet walked back into the room with a grave face. She said “Amiga has a really large tumor…” I said “I know. She told me last night.” About 8 weeks after that night Amiga was gone.

While Amiga was in her final years with us we rescued another dog named Bella. Bella is a small dog, mixed breed. Bella adored her big sister Amiga. A few months after Amiga died, Bella woke me up in the middle of the night. I again knew to check my blood sugar and again it was low. I have no idea how Amiga told Bella to watch out for that but I believe that they somehow communicated.

this is Amiga snuggling with one of our kitties. This was towards the end of her life. She was the most gentle, sweet animal. She never barked once in her life. This picture doesn’t do her eyes justice. There was so much knowledge and love in those eyes.

If I cry, my dog will lick my tears. My childhood dog also used to do this too. If I cry really loudly, he will try to lick my mouth. If I ask him to sit or lay with me, he will sit on my lap or sit next to me for as long as I need him. He has always been there for me, especially when no one else was.

A year before Kobe was born, I suffered a miscarriage. The idea of losing a child and the guilt that followed was almost unbearable. I struggled to find joy and motivation in my life during that time. I struggled to forgive myself.

Kobe was the runt of the litter. He was a mere 2 lbs, almost half the size of his siblings. He was the only male and had 3 sisters. When I first met him, he was a little shivering ball. The littlest. The outcast. He seemed malnourished and frightened, and I couldn't help but be drawn to him.

The funny thing is, when I took him home with me, I made him a promise during the car ride. I said to him, "I promise to protect you and help you become big and strong. I promise to love you." Little did I know at the time that he would be the one helping me become big and strong. For me, Kobe was like a surrogate child. He was the child I never got to have. He provided me with the ultimate comfort that allowed me to forgive myself and move on. He made me laugh with his innocence, enlightened me with his optimism, and helped me love myself through his devotion to me.

Now, after almost 5 years together, he is 10 lbs and as healthy as can be. We are so inseparable that most nights I'd rather stay in and cuddle with him than go out. I am his world, and he is a big part of mine.

 

I've been around dogs my whole life. I was that kid that brought home strays. I was that kid that talked to dogs and thought they were her only real friends. Dogs have taught me the concept of unconditional love. They forgive you no matter how mean or angry or grumpy you get. They get excited to see you even if you only went out for a few minutes to take out the trash. They will wait for you all day and night to come home. They are never mad or upset at you for being human. They don't hold grudges or judge you. They love you for who you are and are endlessly loyal and devoted. Their love is so pure that I wish more people were like dogs. 

 

Yes, and not only that, he's doing it because he empathizes with our discomfort, not because he thinks those actions will get him a reward.

We adopted Harley at 5 months old, and from 5 months through 10 months he ignored human coughing completely.  You could hack up a lung and Harley just ignored it, because it was just something Humans sometimes did that was weird.

At 10 months old, he got a bit of food stuck in his larynx.  He hacked and coughed until the food got free (hurking up giant spit blobs each time), but by that point, the coughing had irritated his throat to the point where to stop the hacking, we had to take him to the vet for a codeine shot.  He spent four more hours coughing until it quieted down, during which he was high as a kite (and since half of him is guardian breed, he really hates being impaired).  I stayed up all night watching him.  Around 5 in the morning he stopped coughing for long enough that I could wrap up the paper towels covering my apartment and take Harley to bed for a few hours before work.

Two weeks later, my girlfriend had a coughing fit.

Harley ran across the apartment into the kitchen (where she was making her lunch for the day) to make sure she was okay.

What was different?  Harley had experienced a coughing fit, so now he knew that coughing was bad.  He was capable of extrapolating from his memory of his symptoms to similar symptoms being exhibited by a different species, and drawing the conclusion that this other creature must be experiencing discomfort.

Dogs are pretty awesome.

Her name is Leela. She's a 2 year old boxer mix we rescued from her previous owners after they claimed she was vicious. She doesn't have a vicious bone in her body! If myself or my hubby is hurt or upset or not feeling well, she's right there.

 

She's even comforting to my grandmother who she doesn't see often.

 

And a good friend who was struggling with loss when this photo was taken.

 

I honestly don't think I'd be here if it weren't for my Leela. ❤️

YES! I have a doberman, his name is Sonar. He's 2 1/2 years old and loves agility and cuddles. He's a very good boy, but a little mischievous.

Very recently, my grandfather died. We are all still heart broken, and miss him dearly. Sonar can tell we are all upset. He will sit with us when each family member is alone and snuggle up close. He will bring blankets and pillows and dog treats. Sometimes he will bring a box of tissues. Just stuff he thinks we might need. The other day, he dragged my mum her hot water bottle! He is the gentlest and softest pupper going. He knows when we're sad. He knows how to fix it too.

 

One day I was having an argument with my Dad.
In the middle of the argument, I couldn't stop myself from crying ,I just shouted and went inside bedroom while crying itself.

Our Dog "ROCKY" (Labrador) was observing all this, and when I was inside my bedroom, my sister has observed him crying and his eyes were also filled with tears.

Immediately, at the top of her voice she told me that, "even Rocky is crying and he wants to come inside your room".

When I asked her to leave him,
"He just pushed the door to reach me and started licking my face".
I could still see the tears in his eyes.

He didn't stop with this, He picked-up his belt and kept it in my hand.
When I hold that belt.. he started pulling me towards the gate. (Trying to say... Let's go out for a walk.).

Literally, he tried all the possible ways to made me feel better. Till that incident, I never know that, he likes me very much.

He stays in my home-town and I usually visit my home once in a month during weekends. I really don't know, how he remembers me...!!

Whenever I'm in home, he never wants to miss me from his sight.
If I go out of his sight, he will start searching all the rooms and terrace to find-out me.

The saddest part is, saying BYE to him.
When I was about to leave home,
while packing my stuff, he simply sit beside me and observe it.
While wearing the shoe, he will try all the possible ways to "stop me tying the shoe laces".

Once, I say "Bye", then he literally hold my hand with his mouth and won't let me go. If I try to pull my hand, he tries to apply more pressure. Some how I''ll manage to leave home.

"Rocky" knows how pose for a snap..

This is during his first B'day :)

 

I have been going through fertility treatments for quite some time now. Sometimes it gets too much and I start crying. When my 2.5 yr old Lab- Gabbu sees it, he comes to me and keeps licking my face till I stop and hug him. He never does this when my husband is around. He just looks at his dad as if 'can you handle?'

Once I fake cried to show my husband that Gabbu does this, but he didnt even look my side. I guees he knows the difference \U0001f60a

My husband says maybe its because he likes the salt taste of tears, but I dont think so

Yes, he does and I have no idea how he even senses that I am unwell or upset.

My dog is puggle and his name is Buster.

 

Normally, my dog sleeps by my feet and just snuggles into his little bed. Some days when I am upset or sick, he refuses to sleep there and he just comes all the way up and puts his head right on the pillow next to me and just stares into my face with his big eyes. Sometimes he would just put his face on my shoulder as if he is giving me a hug. It always baffles me as to how he knows how and when to do this. Below is a picture of him that I took recently when I was sick and he just sat there staring at me.

A year and a half ago, Buster was diagnosed with cancer. He has a type called mast cell tumor and he underwent surgery to remove the tumor. The doctors suggested a series of radiation therapy for over three months which was a very painful procedure. The other choice was to wait for the tumor to reappear and then decide the next course of action. Post-surgery was a very difficult time for Buster. He couldn't handle the pain and would sometimes try to bite me and the next moment he would try to cuddle up as if saying sorry. He was in pain and I was in tears. We chose not to put him through the radiation therapy which would have also required me to leave him at the hospital for 5 days every week. The doctors at that time told us, the tumor would reappear in 4-6 months. We have kept our fingers crossed! So far it hasn't. So everyday that he is with us is a blessing and when he so much as starts to sneeze or cough, I go into a panic mode.

So I have learned to just enjoy every moment I have with him, one day at a time :)

My current dog is Benji he 3yr Jack Russell cross (crossed with a pomeranian - called a jack-a-ranian) 

He will instinctively lay over my shoulder with his head snuggled into my neck, or will drop various toys and tennis balls at my feet to distract me by playing with him.



Having a dog means my day is planned around his walks, if I'm particularly down (I suffer from mental health issues) he has to take priority, once I'm on the beach with him my problems seem less severe, they disappear for that hour or so.


He loves to dig holes on the beach.


He loves to drink my cup of Tetley Tea.


I must admit that I just want to show him off.

Just having him around Cheers me up.

Wendi Tibbets, Animal Whisperer with service dog training experience.

I had a wonderful dog. His name was Gryphon. He had two years of formal training under his belt before he was registered with the county as my service dog. He could predict my seizures. Some dogs can do that. I could read him before I had a seizure and get myself in a safe spot before I had one. It was amazing. Sadly, Gryphon got old and we lost him 8 months ago. We've since been raising a replacement dog. He has had lessons, but he hasn't taken to them. He has his own agenda and personality. When I have a seizure “Buckshot" has a tendency to step on my face.

No. He does not comfort me in the least.

Does your dog comfort you when you're upset?

This is Thor when he was a lap puppy.


​Here you see Thor with my little one, Marc. This was only a couple of months later.



This is Thor being watchful.


What was he watching out for? Marc. Thor is on constant alert for his little boy, Marc. That is the head turn of hearing Marc start to cry.
When Marc cries, Thor becomes very distraught. He MUST go to Marc. He barks at us if we don't appear to be consoling Marc soon or fast enough.
The dog next to him is Duke.  Since Thor must patrol the house at night,
Duke sleeps with Marc in the bed next to him. Duke helps Marc sleep and comforts him when Marc wakes up from nightmares.
Duke also gets upset when Marc cries. But he isn't as vocal as Thor. But where he gets very vocal is if Thor gets hurt. Thor had a seizure. Duke was almost inconsolable for the time that Thor was in the animal hospital. He cried non-stop until Thor came home.

Our dogs comfort us when we are upset. They also seek our comfort when they are sad as well. But Thor cares more for our son than he does for us. He tries to make us feel better when we are sad, but he exhibits actual physical distress when his boy is hurt.

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