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Unconditional Love

By Amy Kalman, RN

Woman with Dog

I met Rufus, a previously homeless shelter dog, when he was 2 ½ years old (estimated by his pearly whites). He’s a short, stout, proud, shaggy dog weighing about 60 pounds; his breed: Junk Yard Mutt. We walk to the big park every morning and around the neighborhood in the evening. Rufus’s preferred stop is the gutter for food scraps, but his favorite activity is being stopped by neighbors, city dwellers, and visitors only to be told how darling he is; especially admiration by the older women (who always smell like freshly baked cookies) from a retirement community down the street.

Rufus is my best friend & confidant. He doesn’t sniff through laundry, but doesn’t wash clothes either. He doesn’t pick through the garbage, but doesn’t cook dinner & has serious begging skills. He doesn’t chew shoes, but has a thing for rawhide.

Though I do love to talk about Rufus as a proud mother, I’m writing to you about my best friend because I want to share the rewards of living with him.

From disease identification to treatment to remission or cure, a dog doesn’t judge you when your hair falls out, won’t tell you you’re not eating enough if you’ve lost your appetite, and is more than happy to keep you company in the moments when exhaustion sets in. I also believe that a dog instinctually knows when you need their love most.

Here are some other benefits you receive at the moment of adoption:

  • Walking your dog a couple of times a daily provides you with exercise in an informal environment; exercise is an essential part of general health and the healing process.
  • Opportunities to socialize with other dog walkers when you might otherwise be spending too much time alone.
  • Though knowledge about your disease process and treatment is essential, a dog provides you with something other than cancer to focus on.

The best reward is having a best friend to keep you company during healing — I guarantee your dog will always be there waiting to give…slobber and all.

Photo: Hemera

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