It’s true — dog therapy can heal your aches and pains and a multitude of other ailments too — apathy, aimlessness, fatigue, grumpiness, cabin fever, and sadness. A dog can even perk up a dried-up sense of humor. I know because I had dog therapy with a soft-coated Wheaten terrier. His name is Doctor Mr. Magoo and I’m his rescue human.

The Dog Approach to Therapy

Are you committed? What’s your motivation? How do you feel today? These are questions your dog will never ask. He doesn’t care. He has a program worked out and he has a timeline. It starts now — whether you’re motivated or not. So, just get up and go!

From the beginning, Mr. Magoo let me know he was not a do-it-when-you-get-around-to-it kind of guy.

“I am going to keep jumping up and down, barking, and bumping you till you get up and play with me. So, put on your shoes, get my leash, and open the door. We’re walking. After that, we’re playing. Then I will chew on something and take a nap.”

Do You Have Aches and Pains?  Get Dog Therapy!

Aches and pains? Get a dog. Of course, you can try going to doctors first if you like. That’s what I did. They gave me tests. According to the tests, I was fine.

To convince me I didn’t hurt, the doctor went through the list of all the things not wrong with me.

The problem is a lot of our aches and pains confound tests. This frustrates doctors because they like pains with names that show up on charts.

I argued that there must be something wrong because my pain was real. He said I might try a specialist, sounding like it wouldn’t matter. I could tell he was getting bored with me.

The Difference Between a Dog Therapist and a Doctor

Your dog will never get bored with you. Another big difference between a dog therapist and a doctor is specialization. Doctors specialize. Dog therapists are holistic.

I went to an orthopedist. I told him about the pain in my legs. “What part of your leg?” he asked. I told him it started at my shin and went down my foot to my toes. “I can’t help you. I’m a knee specialist.”

Really? I couldn’t go to just one doctor for my whole leg? No. There are separate ologists for every part. And when you’ve used them up, you can go to a psychiatrist — that’s the doctor who will try to get the pain out of your head where the ologists think it is.

Dog Therapists are the General Practitioners of the Heeling World

Dog therapists know all that’s important to know to heal your aches and pains. If you ask a doctor a question that’s outside of his specialty, he’ll likely scratch his head and look dumbfounded. Dogs won’t do that — actually they will scratch a lot but it’s not the same.

The good news is your dog can treat every symptom you can throw at him — if you’re in pain, tired, sad, hurt, unmotivated, depressed, or feeling old. And he won’t suggest your problems are all in your mind. He doesn’t care about that either.

A Physical Therapy Failure

[If you’re never down or unmotivated, if your back never aches, your weight never fluctuates more than three pounds, and you exercise, walk, or run for the joy of it, you’re in the wrong blog.]

I went to physical therapy. I washed out. (I know I’m not the only one!) The thing about physical therapy is you have to do it — and not just for the two hours a week that you’re in the clinic.

I went to my first session all motivated. I worked at mastering the tricky exercises with funny names like cat-camel, downward dog, building bridges, and flasher (not as fun as it sounds).

After the session, I went home with a sheet of instructions and excellent intentions. For the next week, I followed the sheet almost to the letter. Except of course the two days it was raining — you can’t walk if it’s raining. You can get sick. Everybody knows that — except your dog.  I’m too tired to exercise today or my back hurts. That’s ok. I can make it up.

Physical Therapy May Work for Other People

I did PT for a few weeks before I realized PT doesn’t work. Maybe it works for other people, but my issues are different. I was despondent, knowing that pain would be my future.

Mr. Magoo wasn’t having that. He knows how a dog can heal you. His exercise sheet said I had to walk, play, and love every single day. And he made it his job to see to it that I did. We walked every day, rain or shine, and some days two or three times. Then we played and tumbled and loved each other.

Dog Therapy Worked a Miracle!

One day I realized nothing hurt — no burning legs, no aching back. I had energy. I was happy. I get up in the morning, impatient for Mr. Magoo to take me on my walk. It was a miracle — or at least a mystery. But healing is no mystery for a dog. He knows the prescription. He is the prescription and he’s right there beside you to make it work.

Dog therapy is how your dog can heal your aches and pain — and a multitude of other ills too. Whatever your problem — pain, boredom, apathy, aimlessness, fatigue, sadness, or a dried-up sense of humor — there is a dog out there ready and willing to make you better — a dog to fit every need. You can be your dog’s rescue human.

About that dried-up sense of humor, a dog is guaranteed to heal it. Go here to read about the hilarious experiences you can have raising a puppy.  

March 1, 2023