I believe animals transform people. They have a profound effect on us, one that we are just beginning to appreciate and explore. Think of autistic children responding to horse therapy programs or our soldiers living with therapy dogs to help with post traumatic stress disorder. How many of us were moved by the story of Oscar, the cat who stands vigil when patients are about to die? We are just starting to understand the gifts our animal companion’s possess.
We in the scientific community learned that stroking an animal’s fur decreases a person’s blood pressure. Experiments are underway to determine if animals can do even more such as monitor blood glucose levels, alert epileptics to an impending seizure and even detect cancer. Beyond such amazing attributes, what impresses me most as a veterinarian is the willingness of animals to use their gifts for the betterment of humans.
While working at an emergency clinic, I met a pudgy black cat named Fang. He received this moniker because his upper canine teeth were too large for his mouth. The tips protruded past his upper lip in a most unusual manner. As the ‘clinic cat’, Fang donated blood for felines in need. It was a role he did not cherish.
One night, a frantic couple arrived at the clinic with their German Shepherd gasping for air. During a game of fetch, the poor dog swallowed a tennis ball. While I worked quickly to remove it, Fang strolled into the waiting room. He sat with the distraught people rubbing his face on their legs and purring until the ball was safely removed. The couple left the clinic with a healthy dose of black fur on their clothes. They remarked to me what a comfort he had been. That’s when I realized this cat was more than just a blood donor. He was the clinic comforter. It was a role I witnessed him perform countless times through the years.
After retiring from the clinic, Fang moved in with my husband and me. Each month when I suffered from abdominal cramps, he came to my rescue. As I relaxed on the couch, Fang spread his body over my abdomen. He was the perfect mix of pressure and warmth. Once the cramps were gone, he resumed his previously scheduled activities . . . begging for food and napping in a sunbeam.
How do I know that animals transform our lives? I experience it every day with patients and my own pets. To transform your life, please adopt a pet from your local shelter. There are many wonderful animals waiting to warm your heart and lift your spirit.
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