Pets and their people-together safe at home with COVID-19

But for some people, especially those who live alone, pets may provide much needed companionship and relief of stress and anxiety during this unsettling time.

While sheltering at home during this COVID-19 outbreak, many people are spending more time than usual with their pets. If you spend much time on social media you’ve seen the memes of pets who miss the privacy they usually enjoy when people are away.

But for some people, especially those who live alone, pets may provide much needed companionship and relief of stress and anxiety during this unsettling time.

To date, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus (coronavirus) to people.

CDC

When animals are more than pets

Dogs have been used to help visually impaired persons for hundreds of years, but now they and other animals assist people with other types of disabilities, as well as provide companionship and comfort.

Besides “guide dogs” who assist blind persons, other categories of animal helpers include

emotional support animals

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefit, such as alleviating or mitigating some symptoms of the disability, to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. Emotional support animals are typically dogs and cats, but may include other animals.

cat lying on the ground next to green shrubs

service animals

A service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

Psychiatrist Dr. Vania Manipod, blogger at freud and fashion  explains how these terms apply to psychiatric illnesses in her blog post here-

Therapy Pet-Friendly Guide

In the United States, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets, livestock, or wildlife, might be a source of COVID-19 infection at this time. However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.

CDC
woman on a horse
a rare experience for me-riding a horse

The Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, “requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle.”

Other countries may have different laws so if you plan to travel abroad with your animal assistant, you should check the laws for your destination prior to arrival to avoid any problems with your animal’s entry or departure.

Remember that animal assistants are not just pets, they are working; so we should not distract them or interfere with their duties when we encounter them, as this report warns.

Guide dog handlers are urging the public to resist the temptation to pat the working animals regardless of how cute they are.

The Veteran’s Health Administration uses horses to help veterans deal with PTSD.

I know from my own experience with rescued Arabians, who as a breed have a reputation of being easily excited, that they help me be calm and unhurried around them. It is almost as if they provide me with biofeedback and reflect back to me what my own degree of tension might be.

Dr. Hans Duvefelt

Read more at his blog “A Country Doctor Writes”

If Nothing Else Works, Try a Horse

And for some veterans, “living with wolves” saves their lives.

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have been no reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.

CDC

For more information about pets and COVID-19, talk to your pet’s veterinarian and refer to the CDC website for recommendations.

If You Have Animals

These two stayed with us while their owner was on a trip. We thought we were taking care of them, but we received just as much as we gave.

And a resource from the American Medical Veterinary Association

SARS-CoV-2 in animals, including pets

exploring the HEART of health with pets

Dr Aletha

Remembering D-Day through Art

In 1943, as a 20 year old, Bill joined the Army, deployed to England, and prepared for the invasion. What he thought would be a grand adventure turned into a nightmare which he vividly captured in his book.

In the United States and in Europe, people observe June 6 as D-Day, when in 1944 Allied troops invaded Normandy, liberating France from Nazi occupation and ultimately end World War II. Special observances are planned every year there and in the United States to observe the anniversary of that historic event. 

Remembering D-Day by the Numbers
  • 156,000 troops from Allied nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Norway, and others 
  • 5 beaches along 50 miles of Normandy coast 
  • 6000 ships
  • 50,000 vehicles
  • 11,000 planes
  • 12,004 killed, wounded, missing or captured 

(source-The American Legion Magazine) 

How one man remembered D-Day

I learned about D-Day from my late friend Bill Hart, who died in 2014. Bill served in the U.S. Army during World War II , and his unit was part of the force that invaded Normandy.

Bill wrote an illustrated memoir about his military experiences. Through his written and visual account, he left us a first hand account of an experience that changed his life and changed the world. I want to share some of his memories with you here.

D-DAY VET REMEMBERS NORMANDY

Fighting the war in Europe

In 1943, as a 20 year old, Bill  joined the Army, deployed to England, and prepared for the invasion. What he thought would be a grand adventure turned into a nightmare which he vividly captured in his book.

Several days into the fighting on the beaches at Normandy, he was assigned to pick up and transport the bodies of fallen soldiers. Thereafter, as he worked his way across France and Belgium into Germany, he found himself dodging enemy soldiers, liberating concentration camps, dealing with angry and defeated POWs, and famished, humiliated civilians struggling to survive.  Bill described what he saw and felt this way.

2 SOLDIERS AND A JEEP

“At night I would think about the poor GI’s family when they got the news of his death. I tried not to think too much about this “dead guy” job. It seemed to go on forever.

For the next month and a half I was really alone, not attached to any outfit. I found my own food, water, gas for the Jeep and slept alone beside the Jeep in an open field. I shaved with cold water in my helmet and used my Jeep mirror to see.

The Germans were always near. I was scared I would be killed or captured. “Who knows where I am? Who would tell my mother if I died?”

In the beginning it had been exciting being alone with the invasion action all around me. But now I have panic attacks and nightmares of the dead bodies waking me as I sleep in the open field alone.

Most GI’s have other soldiers around them to feel safety in numbers. I had no one. I can’t get their dead faces out of my mind. I wait for the bright morning sun to erase the terrible images.”

Fighting a war at home

After the war, Bill established a career as a commercial artist. Art provided not only a living for him and his family but also an outlet for dealing with the distressful memories of the war.

He created an extensive portfolio of drawings and paintings depicting  images of what he saw and experienced.  By expressing his feelings on canvas, he released some of their distress.

SOLDIER LYING ON THE GROUND

“Later I forced myself to stop thinking about the “dead guys” experience and eventually forgot it.

62 years later, in 2006, when I applied for compensation for war injury during the Battle of the Bulge, the woman who interviewed me kept telling me I was leaving something out, something from my past.

I finally remembered after much writing about my remembered events in the 1944 and 1945 war period and was diagnosed with PTSD.

I believe, the greatest event of the 20th century took place during the June 1944 D-Day Normandy Invasion. I am very proud of being a small part of that great historical event that will always be remembered.”

Quotes and drawings from Bill’s memoir, D-DAY VET REMEMBERS NORMANDY (copyright) used by permission of his wife

Bill was proud to be a World War II veteran and I count it a privilege to know him. He was a kind, gentle man who loved God, his family and friends. He is missed by all of us who love him.

MAN IN A NORMANDY D-DAY HAT
Bill Hart, World War II veteran

 

 

Bill also drew other subjects.  Every year he and his wife sent out a Christmas card which he illustrated.
shepherds raising arms to the sky
one of Bill’s Christmas card drawings

Bill’s artwork and copies of his book are available to purchase from his wife. If you are interested, contact me here and I will put you in touch with her.

 

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER-PTSD

Once known as “shell shock” or “battle fatigue”, post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, has become the most common post-military service disorder. Although it also occurs in civilians who experience severe trauma, it has  been defined, studied, and treated among current and former service members.

PTSD develops after exposure to or experiencing significant traumatic events such as interpersonal violence, death or  threat of death, serious accidents, disasters and combat.

There are 4 types of symptoms-

  • Intrusions, such as flashbacks, nightmares
  • Avoidance- isolating oneself from people and/or certain situations
  • Negative mood changes, such as irritability, anger and depression
  • Hypervigilance- being easily startled, always on edge

PTSD can also lead to depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse and suicide.

It is also frequently associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI)  and chronic pain.

The National Center for PTSD (Veterans Administration)  is dedicated to research and education on trauma and PTSD, working to assure that the latest research findings help those exposed to trauma. They offer extensive information and resources at this link

PTSD: National Center for PTSD

exploring the HEART of veterans’ health

Dr Aletha

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