Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wonder Dogs!

Two years ago I found out I have metabolic syndrome (means I get fat easily! hehe) and that I'm borderline pre-diabetic (note the PRE). Since then I've tried to stay current with how to manage my issues "naturally" (that is, without medications, using only diet modifications and exercise).

And, so far so good. I'm losing weight (yay!), and my numbers (A1C, glucose levels, cholesterol, blood pressure etc...) all fall well within the healthy, normal ranges now (well, except triglycerides, which I'm still working on, but they ARE significantly lower). Some of this I attribute to my working hard on lifestyle changes.

But some of my progress I have to attribute to our canine crew -- especially my weight loss (they keep me busy) and improvement in blood pressure (they calm me down).

Call me crazy... but...canines really can impact our health for good. Get this...

Even though I'm not technically diabetic, I subscribe to the ADA's (American Diabetic Association's) newsletter. In this week's headline, lo and behold, here's what I read:

Could a Dog Save Your Life?

I've long been aware of seizure alert dogs, Seeing Eye dogs, hearing dogs, various aid dogs, therapy dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, drug or bomb detecting dogs, and even dogs that can sniff out cancer in its earliest stages -- all dogs who routine save lives.

But I'd only recently heard about dogs helping people with diabetes. Researchers have learned that our canine friends can somehow detect falling glucose levels. When they sense rapid drops in glucose in their owners' bloodstreams, these "sixth-sense" canines can alert their diabetic owners before the owner falls into a diabetic coma, giving the owner time to call for help (you can read about it here)!

Amazing.

Incomprehensible

Wonder Dogs. They save lives -- in huge, dramatic ways.

But lately, I've been feeling like my guys here -- Baxter, Elsie, Ridge, Kenya, and Pinot -- have been "saving my life" (if you will) in countless small ways.

No, I'm not blind or visually impaired. I'm not deaf or hearing impaired. I'm not physically challenged. I don't have a seizure disorder, cancer, or diabetes.

But life right now is hard, and they help me hang on.

Regular Reader knows things here have been crummy and crisis-filled since October (and it still is). And, truth be told, it's catching up to me. It seems like I'm here to cheer and support everyone else, and I do, or at least I try. But this stuff impacts me, too. Where do I go to process? Where do I get to crash? (Can you hear the pity-me violins whining in the background???).

Sometimes I just wear out. I want somebody to be my cheerleader (how selfish is that?!). I am only human, after all.

Enter Baxter, Elsie, Ridge, Kenya, and Pinot (Baxter, the couch-potato, is missing from the photo below).



How can I not smile at their goofy faces and silly antics? How can I not feel loved and valued and appreciated when they greet me with a bazillion kisses each day? How can my aching heart not be comforted when my feet hold Kenya's slumbering head and my lap holds various parts of canine anatomy belonging to any one of our crew (whoever happens to be in my lap at the time)?


Our Labs keep me healthy and alive:
  • They restore my sanity.
  • They put my heart at rest.
  • They lower my stress levels.
  • They make me smile.
  • They give of themselves when I have nothing to give.
  • They listen, without judgment, when no on else will.
  • They believe in me even when I'm scared, when I've screwed up, or when I don't believe in myself anymore.
  • They remind me there's a Creator who cares and loves, particularly when I wonder if that's still so.
  • They show me that faithfulness, optimism, and beauty still exist in this broken, fallen world and that good things still make up much of my life and existence.
  • They offer companionship when I feel isolated, company when I'm lonely, affection when I feel unloved, and concern when I feel forgotten.
  • The love me and encourage me.
  • They cheer me on.
  • And they deliver me from my morose, melancholy self. :o)

They do "save" me.

Could a Dog Save Your Life?

You bet. Five faithful canine friends already have mine -- in more ways than I can count or imagine.

And because they have, I can face each new day and can continue to support and encourage those around me with love and a grace-filled heart.

'Til next time,
Joan

P.S. (So sorry not to have posted the last ten days or so. I've just been in a crummy spot and didn't want to whine.)


7 comments:

JuliaR said...

Uma helped save my life when I became clinically depressed at one point. I hadn't been diagnosed but I knew something was wrong. So every day I came home from work, I climbed straight into walking clothes and took off with Uma. We'd walk and walk and that was a life saver. But also just her presence helped. You know how that works. :) She also taught my husband how to live in the moment which was a tremendous benefit to him.

I'm sorry about your work-related "issues". Boy can I relate. I've finally got some new short term goals so life is working for me better now but I am still thinking about longer term goals. There's this interesting book "Wherever you go, there you are" by Jon Kabat-Zinn and on page 206, that chapter is titled "What is my Job on the planet with a Capital J?" The example they use is Buckminster Fuller and how he started asking himself "what is it on this planet that needs doing that I know something about, that probably won't happen unless I take responsibility for it?" A mouthful but it bears thinking about. Even though I have my new goals. I find myself thinking about Fuller's question a lot. I don't know if it may help you in your current place but I offer it as food for thought. All the best, Julia

Meesh said...

If it is any help-I understand just how tired you can get trying to always be the helper-the one that walks the higher road even when it seems way so tempting to just do what it takes to "get by". But then I remember that I know a loving God who cares for me VERY, VERY much and I remember that whatever I do, I do for HIM. Nothing less than my best is good enough for Him who gave so much. I am a first time lab owner (chocolate) and I came across your site and now it is a place I come to often for a smile.I am only beginning to understand the unique-ness and fun of labradors If I can't have my lab with me at work, I look at the pictures of yours and they bring me comfort knowing I will go home to the same kind of happy, wiggly, can't wait to see you Mom, face!! Thanks for posting all the great pictures of your gang-they make my day!! (I would love to have more than one, hubby is unsure of adding more). I live in southcentral PA, too!

Professor J said...

What lovely dogs you have! I love labs--such sweet, goofy faces. I don't really know you, but I'm glad you have the doggies to help you out.

Anonymous said...

Just keep trucking along and eventually a tree lined open road will open up before you and you'll be able to skip down it. It'll be a glorious day when you can look back and see the cloud behind you, and the farther you skip down the road, the lighter the cloud will become.

Some clouds are darker than others, and when it rains it usually pours, but it can't rain all the time.

Mr. Green is turning out to be a wonderful dog. I cant wait until this weather breaks so I can take him to play in water more. He has to stomp in every puddle he sees like a little kid. there's a watery section at the dog park after it rains, and he loves to plow through it at full speed.

When I get home from work he's learned that I wont pet him and such until he sits down (keeping him from jumping on people right away when they come in the house and such). He'll sit there like a perfect little angel with just a little wag to his tail, not moving, and sometimes I hold out until he's quivering with excitement and cant take it anymore. He's good though, he wont break until I let him.

Picked him up and weighed him at 6 months. He's a very healthy 80 lbs. Wonder what he's gonna end up at. He's as thick as a horse, I'll have to get some good pictures and send them to you, last ones I have are from about a month ago.

Take care,
Bryan

Mary said...

I can totally understand your despair and how one look from your dogs can brighten your day. My lab does that to me every single day. I'm also sorry you were diagnosed with metobolic syndrome. I have never heard of the disease and now I'm glad you have brought it to my attention. I looked it up and low and behold, I have several of the symptoms as well as one of the other diseases that contribute to the syndrome. So, your dogs may save your life all the time, but all of you may have saved mine. So now I'll go to the doctor and get tested. Thank you for your blog and if I couldn't love you enough for someone who doesn't even know you, I love you tons now! Keep loving on your dogs and they will always show you the way home where happiness lies.

LostinScotland said...

Joan...

If you need to rant and rave, you can email me any time...I may be a a couple hundred miles away but that doesn't mean I'm not hear to listen. It is great to have the dogs...I'm seriously contemplating on moving because my landlord won't let me have a dog or any creature. Being single it, the loneliness and despair, hit home I think really harder because sometimes, you just don't have all the support you need. How I make it through the day sometimes, only God knows. Maybe its my students, that is my extended family. But I've been there, done it, and have several tee shirts about earned. So my friend, rant and rave all you want...and take lots of pictures...of those five mugs in the funniest positions possible. It is sure bound to cheer anyone up.

LostinScotland said...

hear = here...at least I was in the church, just not the right pew...

Oh, this begs the question, is this why I make friends with people who have dogs, critters that I can go visit?