Dec 16, 2010

Pets for POTS

Lately I have been thinking it might be nice to have a furry companion around to take for brief walks, keep me company, and train to do tricks. I have researched several breeds and currently have my sights set on a cute Shiba Inu puppy like the one pictured above. Ideally I want a dog small enough to pick up with a good temperament that doesn't bark much. Shiba Inus are described as a very fastidious breed, meaning they like to stay clean and are easily housebroken, which is also a major bonus for me.

I know a lot of dysautonomia patients have really benefited from having pets in the home. Not just for the company, but also because animals are intuitive and often capable of acting in a service capacity to alert their owner when something's wrong. Check out this video of one dysautonomia patient's fainting spells caught on tape:

Although he doesn't alert her in quite enough time, Sarah's dog Walburg clearly recognizes that his owner is about to faint. Another obvious advantage of having a larger dog by your side is that if you happen to pass out in a public place, people probably won't mess with you while you're down.

Although I am not looking for a service dog, I would expect my future dog to be in tune to how I'm feeling. Even dogs that I don't know very well seem to instinctively seek me out and come sit on my lap when I'm not feeling well. There could be ten other people sitting around in the room and if there are dogs around, they will always come sit by me. To be honest it freaks me out a little bit. Dogs did not always flock to me like this. But since developing POTS I've noticed that animals have taken a liking to me.

So maybe that's a sign that it's time to get a pet. At this point it would be a whole lot easier than dealing with a needy boyfriend. Most of my friends are in the midst of getting married, getting a house, getting kids, and here I am contemplating getting a dog. For most of my old friends, getting a dog isn't even a big enough milestone to make it onto their Facebook newsfeed. They have bigger and better things going on in their lives. But to me, getting a dog is a big deal and an even bigger decision. I need to be sure I can adequately care for an animal and provide them with enough exercise to stay healthy. I need to be 100% sure I can give them the care they deserve or it would be rather selfish of me to get one.

Then again, getting a dog may help me feel better in many ways. Maybe it's the power of unconditional love or maybe it's just pure coincidence, but pet owners are said to have better health overall and recover more quickly from surgeries and injuries than non pet owners. Resilience is something all POTS patients could definitely use an extra dose of.

In January, a litter of Shiba Inu puppies from a local breeder are coming to town. So I have a little more time to mull this decision over. Any feedback from pet owners and non pet owners alike would be much appreciated.


  1. It's funny, I've been considering trying to convince my hubby I should have a dog too... for many of the same reasons. I know that my cats are a big encouragement to me - they often know when something is "wrong" and come over to keep me company. But, they're still cats (which is wonderful on the days when I don't feel like I have enough energy to deal with the dependence of a dog, but not so great on the days when they aren't interested in being companionable and I'm feeling like I could use some comfort). :) I'm going to keep thinking about it for awhile... If it turns out well for you... then maybe I'll work harder at convincing my hubby -- maybe next Spring or Summer? :)


  2. Hi Nonna! Glad to hear you have some nice cats to keep you company! Today I actually took a trip to the Humane Society to look into rescuing a stray. There were several nice dogs and also some super cute kittens! I was tempted to bring several home, but one thing at a time. I wanted to observe the different breeds and see what their temperaments were like. I am trying not to rush into anything. And like you, I need a dog that is not too dependent. I may consider fostering a dog for a few weeks before I make the commitment. I will keep you posted on my adventures! :)

  3. Hi Kristina,

    This is Melissa Logan from Facebook. I have been wanting a dog for years but I used to move so often that I didn't think it would be fair to my potential dog. Now, I live in a place that won't allow dogs but I will be moving soon (more permanently). I have struggled recently with the decision because of health reasons, like you. I finally came to the same conclusion as you did. Once we move I plan to foster a dog for a while. If, even on bad days, I can still care for the dog appropriately, then I will become a dog owner! I also intend to adopt from a shelter for multiple reasons.

    1. It is hard to know, when getting a dog from a breeder, if that breeder truly cares for the dogs' well-being or if they're just running a puppy mill for the money. Research and referrals from friends can be helpful, but I'd still rather adopt.

    2. Buying from a breeder can be much more expensive than adopting. I honestly don't care whether or not my dog is a pure breed. In fact, if I am not mistaken, I believe that mixed breeds tend to be healthier than pure breeds, in general.

    3. Dogs in the shelter have already had rough lives. I'd like to give them a better life. I have also heard numerous times that they tend to be more loving and appreciative. I am not attempting to anthropomorphize dogs. I think that many things that are considered human traits are actually mammal behavior, or at least that we share some of these qualities with many other animals.

    4. I hope that by more adopting from shelters, over time, bad breeders will find less profit in creating puppy mills, and will decide not to do it in the first place.

    There are my two cents. I hope that fostering goes well for you so you can confidently get your own dog. :)

    Take care,

  4. Hi Melissa!

    Thanks so much for the valuable advice! You hit the nail on the head about the puppy mill thing. While many breeders are reputable, the pet store that sells the shiba inu puppies I was planning on looking at was rumored to be selling puppy mill puppies for profit. They have a bad reputation on the Internet and as I conducted further investigation by talking to people and calling the store I found that their puppies were being shipped to the pacific northwest all the way from the midwest. This signaled a red flag and I made the decision to not even go look at the puppies because I didn't want to get attached.

    I have since decided that I will either wait until a reputable local breeder has a litter of puppies, or better yet I will adopt a dog from the shelter. Buying a puppy from a pet store sort of goes against everything I believe in, so I am trying not to be too upset that the puppy thing didn't work out this time. After all, there are already plenty of other loving, adoptable animals out there in need of a good home and if I am able I might as well save and improve the life of a deserving dog. Please let me know how the fostering process goes for you and I will keep you posted on any of my puppy progress as well.

    Thanks again! :)

  5. Hi. I am Sarah Dionna and I found you by looking at the discovery of my videos. I just wanted to let you know that he does warn me in enough time. I only fainted because I wanted people to see that when he laid down, I was definitely going to faint. Had I just sat when he laid down, it would have looked like I was just sitting because he laid down and that wouldn't have been enough proof.

    I think getting a dog is a great idea! It does take a lot of work and a lot of patience. If you ever need any help, just let me know and I will be more than happy to give you any advice!

    -Sarah Dionna

  6. Hey Sarah!

    Thanks so much for making the video! I see what you were showing now and I did notice how he tried to forewarn you by sitting himself down several times before you fainted. It really is amazing how intuitive he is and how in tune he is with you!

    I made another visit to the animal shelter yesterday but still have not made a decision on a dog yet. At first I wanted a smaller breed for space reasons, but now that I may be moving I am leaning toward something larger. In that case, I will definitely come to you with questions, I appreciate any advice I can get! You seem to have done a great job with dog, I am very impressed. :)