Man’s best really can do a lot more than fetch… How Pets Can Help You Heal – My Pal Lou by Sara Krill
Studies have shown for years how pets can help us emotionally as well as physically. They can give us a sense of purpose; help ease loneliness and isolation, while helping us to keep our blood pressure and cholesterol levels low, as well.
Just ask Sara Krill, author of the book My Pal Lou: The Story of Me, who recalled how her faithful beagle Louie eased her pain when she was recovering from a painful hysterectomy brought on by endometriosis.
“I can’t describe the heartache of the decision I finally had to make to have the surgery,” she said. “I had always wanted children, but the pain of the endometriosis became too much to bear, often bringing me literally to my knees. I knew that once I had the surgery, there would be no chance whatsoever that I could have a child of my own. That being said, perhaps I transferred those maternal feelings to the way I treated Lou, but the truth is that my relationship with him helped to heal me, and kept me whole during one of the most difficult periods of my life.”
Krill understands that to some, treating a pet like a member of the family instead of just a dog can seem a bit extreme, but her bond with Lou was fulfilling and reciprocated by her faithful canine.
“The truth is, I was never really much of a ‘dog person,’” Krill added. “I went to the pet store to get a comb for my cat, but there I was, face pressed against the glass, eye to eye with this soulful beagle. I named him right then and there, uttering ‘Hello, Lou,’ while at the same time arguing that I was not going to bring home a dog. Part of me wanted to just get the cat comb and go home, but something changed for me with that moment, and I never regretted since.”
Krill discovered the subtle nuances of Lou’s personality, how he could be playful one minute, but protective the next.
“The day I came home from the hospital, he was so happy to see me, that he knocked me over when he greeted me,” she said. “As physically painful as that was, my heart was singing that my friend missed me so much. I lay in my bed, enveloped in the happy haze of painkillers, with my Lou at my side. He lay next to me, his head up and alert, as if to say he was my guard and he was on the job. Little things like that, along with the way he could make me smile with a simple tilt of his head or the way he’d cling to my side, kept me in good spirits.”
Krill later returned the favor when Lou developed cancer, and required expensive chemotherapy to stay alive.
“Many pet owners would have simply put him to sleep, but I knew he wanted to live, so I spared no expense to heal him the way he would have healed me if our situations were reversed,” she said. “It was worth it. When he did pass away, he knew he had been loved and cared for as a member of my family, and I would not have had it any other way.”