“You are not alone. I understand your pain”, without a word, Mango communicated that with her eyes as she encouraged me to start the day.
It was enough for me, not to give up, when my spine was twisted in spasms from my cervical injury to C4-5, C6-7. I look like a “normal” girl, but my body feels like Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame. Mango could somehow thru her pup intuition, sense my pain. It is not deluded anthropomorphism. She knew exactly where I hurt. She licked and even used her tummy to try to warm the areas on my arm, neck and shoulder where my spasms were the worst.
According to the government, “Emotional Support Animals provide some therapeutic benefit to person with mental or psychiatric disability, requiring no specific training. The mere presence of this animal mitigates the effects of the emotional or mental disability.” ESA’s are not service dogs, service dogs are taught specific tasks to help with your disability. ESA do not have the same public access as service dogs, however if the handler has a disability they are allowed to keep an ESA in housing that normally do not permit pets. Mango was both an ESA and a legally compliant trained service dog.
Not only did Mango help me with my PTSD, but also my headaches, chronic spine pain and left side weakness. On high pain days, I would need to stay bed ridden because movement would cause me blinding agony. She would stay by my side to comfort me and put my needs before hers (did not abandon her post even for pizza!) Below she keeps me company, while I use a pneumatic neck brace for neck traction. The pressure of the device is not pleasant, but she kept me calm.
Goldsmith, University of London, published research on a study they conducted which suggest that domestic dogs display empathetic response to distress in humans.
“There are many different ways in which dogs could respond to an apparently distressed human. They could fail to respond at all and ignore the crying person; they could become fearful and avoidant, even approaching another calm human for reassurance; they could become alert and even act in a dominant manner towards an apparently weakened individual; they could become curious or playful; or they could approach and touch the distressed person in a gentle or submissive manner thereby providing reassurance or comfort. The majority of dogs in the present study behaved in a manner that was consistent with empathic concern and comfort-offering.”
In the above photo, she physically kept my left shoulder elevated. This decreased the tension in my sternocleidomastoid muscle in my clavicle, that causes some of my migraines. I don’t know how she figured this out. I later learned this from my doctor, when he used Kinesio tape to hold my shoulder back. The photo of Mango was taken after she she was observed circling, then wedging herself under me. She repeated this behavior multiple times. My husband thought this was strange place for her to try to sleep.. The weight of my shoulder was literally on hers. Very heavy for a seven pound dog!
Mango gave me quality of life when I all I had to look forward to each morning was pain. Animals offer that to us when human bonds let us down. Mango never faltered. When I was suffering, she would be right there with me. Brown eyes alert and focused, tail wagging, always ready to help.