In praise of pets

My kids have some pretty complex needs. Little Miss A has Prader-Willi Syndrome with means she needs careful monitoring around food (she will not feel full & will overeat) and needs to be ‘pushed’ to be active (she has a very slow metabolism & tendency toward obesity). Six year old Mr S has sensory processing disorder & Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Being active in a safe way is vital for both children.

We are fortunate to have experienced therapeutic riding lessons with both of kids, where each child made amazing gains. We credit the improved muscle tone & balance in Little Miss A with helping her walk. Mr S became confident & would be calmer and more ‘centred’ after his lessons, less like the wriggling jellyfish he usually is.

Both children developed a deep relationship with ‘their’ horse. Unfortunately moving meant we had to leave riding lessons behind, however we are now in the market for a small mature horse of our own. But that is a long time in coming.

In the meantime, we’ve been blessed to have a new arrival in our home, a mature cocker spaniel who needed a place where someone was home & she could be fussed over.

Enter Maggie into our lives.

Incredibly patient & tolerant of all things toddler & preschool, Maggie is the special companion our family was looking for. As soon as Little Miss A saw the dog she claimed her for her own, and is now climbing out of bed by herself (another first!) to demanding to see ‘her dog.’

Little Miss A is now super-motivated to walk ‘her’ dog and Mr S feels confident in walking her too. He loves having someone listen to his commands (as a former obedience instructor & owner of two medium sized dogs myself, the kids have grown up with a dog training vocabulary, now they have a small dog to practice on. My aging canines don’t want much to do with the preschool set;-)

So a spaniel that is starved for attention is perfect! Little Miss A dotes on Maggie morning & evening, fussing over every aspect of the dog & alternately bossing her around. Little Miss A marches around the living room & backyard walking ‘her’ dog and Maggie happily follows and bears sweaters & ribbons with good grace.

The Dunk loves her too, although with reminders ‘to be gentle.’ As a two year old with a pacifier in his mouth he can clearly say, ‘Where’s Maggie?’ and call her.

Maggie’s first full day here was a true trial by fire. We were having half a dozen kindergarteners over for Little Miss A’s birthday. I thought our new arrival would like to join my senior dogs in a much quieter place. Not Maggie!

Supervised & on a leash, she soon became the life of the party. Kids crowded around her & she bore all the attention with the quiet dignity of a queen. (FYI I do NOT recommend doing this with new pets! But Maggie is truly exceptional)

As the party wound down & guests departed, one parent of a very shy boy was stunned to see their child refuse to leave.

The boy insisted on petting Maggie first.

As the boy bent down to pet her, the shocked parent whispered that their child has never touched a dog, and is in fact terrified of dogs after an attack.

Maggie sat calmly while the boy stroked her, and he left only after being reassured he could come back to visit later.

Sometimes although our needs may be complex, the solutions are pretty simple.

Thank you to Maggie’s former owners for letting her come into our lives. We truly appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Is there a special animal in your life?

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About Angela

Super-powered, Special Ed teacher and special needs mama to FOUR (!) children with an assortment of special needs; including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Prader Willi Syndrome. Our family features a heavy dose of good ol' ADHD). I blog about our halfpastnormal life.
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One Response to In praise of pets

  1. Trilby says:

    She’s a beauty and an absolute jewel among dogs, I think.

    We have a ginormous fluffy cat named Gravy and he’s just what I need in the mornings – well maybe not the meowing-in-my-face and the stepping-on-my-chest part, but the loud-rumbling-purrs, and the happy-to-see-me-let’s-get-started-on-the day-part, for sure.

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