Faith vs Fear

Faith vs Fear

Monday, December 7, 2009

Here's Lucy! (and our other therapy pets)

Yesterday we watched an episode about therapy pets on "Wild about Animals." It got me thinking about the pets who grace our family's life.

When our dog Riley was killed by a car last May, we weren't the only ones who went into mourning. Sunny, our toy poodle, sat by the door looking mournful and not eating. Tootsie, our gray tabby cat, looked all over the house, calling for him. We decided a short time later it was time to get another dog.

Our daughter Katie found an online ad for a 5-month-old lab/pointer mix, and when we saw her, we knew she was the dog we were looking for. Her previous family had named her "Daisy," but the name didn't fit. After vigorous debate about a new name, we settled on "Lucy," although Katie insists on calling her "Ruby." LUCY fits her much better.

Her previous family kept her in a small outside pen, and had not taken the time to work with her. She was unruly and undisciplined, to put it politely, for the first few weeks, but Sunny (who is the alpha dog), and Tootsie (who REALLY rules the house) taught her good manners and how to behave. We enjoy watching them chase and play together; it's cheap entertainment. And the grandchildren love our pets; Tootsie makes it a point to come out and let them maul her when they're at the house.

Each of the animals has adapted to David's moods: Lucy is really good about walking by his side and coming when called and Sunny stays close by. On days when David can't cope, I frequently come home to find David sitting in his favorite chair with the cat sitting on his lap and purring. They are an important part of David's therapy and sense of well-being.

We recently added a small fish tank with two fish and a snail to our menagerie. For the first week we were like over-anxious new parents watching their every move. We've calmed down, though, and the sound of the pump in their tank and the movement of the fish is soothing for David. Although it does drive the cat to distraction (we saw her crouching on the couch, measuring the distance to the fish tank. She finally decided it was too much effort and walked away).

I couldn't resist this one. Tootsie has amazing patience with the grandchildren! 

We have had several other dogs over the years, but the story of our family's therapy pets would not be complete without mentioning Cindy, an important part of the family for 12 years. We still miss her ten years after her passing. Cindy was a beautiful, sweet-tempered Swedish shepherd who was also a bit eccentric.

Out of all the Cindy stories we tell, my favorite involves the ladder in the picture below. The ladder went to a tree house about seven feet above ground. One day our older boys were playing there, and decided to see how far up the ladder Cindy would go. To their surprise, she made it the whole way! Then the problem became how to get her down. A frightened 75-pound dog is not easy to budge! We eventually put a large garbage can with a plank on top of it under the tree, and lured her down with her favorite food: hot dogs. I wish I had a video of that moment.

Cindy with our grandson Zachary


  1. I loved this Sally. I agree my cats have always known my moods. I have always said that pets are better than Prozac.

    Your Tootsie looks like my girl Holly.

    I had to laugh about the fish. It's free range sushi bar to a cat, you know.

  2. I miss my Lucy dog that I had to give up in my move. She brought me great comfort during my divorce!

  3. I'm glad you liked this, Susan. Tootsie is a great cat; we are continually amazed at how much she likes young children as well as the dogs. We found her through an ad several years ago. She and several other cats were living in a vacant field when a cat lover and her husband built a house next door. They took the cats, got them their shots, neutered them, and gave them away. Tootsie loves being a house cat; she won't even put a whisker out when it's cold.

    I'm so sorry you had to give your dog away, KJ! Can you get her back now that you're in your new house?

  4. Pets add so much to my life. Thanks for sharing your adorable pets today!

  5. Hi Sallyo,
    I think of you often so I wanted to drop by to see how you were doing. I know the holidays can be hectic. I do wish you good blessings.
    Yoli :)

  6. Oh Sally O... how much love and sanity have our pets provided to my spouse through the years. I have to admit, when my spouse has been grouchy with me... and then turns around and is sweet to the pets... I have resented that. But I know how important and therapeutic they are nonetheless.


Welcome! I'm so glad you dropped by. I'm always happy to hear what you have to say.