We’ve heard from many members of the MS community that service or therapy dogs can provide incredible comfort to patients and their families. From helping with mobility to reducing anxiety, these magical animals are sometimes exactly what the doctor ordered.
Here, we talk to 45-year-old Karin, who’s been living with MS for three years. She lives in a little town of 5000 about 20 minutes from Winterthur in Switzerland with her husband, her service dog Pantin (French for “little puppet”) and her three wonderful children.
Karin and Pantin are inseparable. The service dog helps Karin in her daily routine assisting his owner in everything she needs, from walking to getting dressed.
What type of MS do you have?
I was diagnosed with a relapsing form of MS.
When were you diagnosed?
My MS symptoms went mostly unnoticed until I had a conflict with a former friend. This particular conflict had a very negative impact on me, and caused me to fall into a depressed state that lasted two years. When I initially had an onset of noticeable symptoms, I went to my doctor who failed to take them seriously. Thanks to a friend whose mother had also suffered with MS, she encouraged me to get a second opinion. This doctor luckily took me seriously enough to arrange a referral to a neurologist. I was finally diagnosed in 2014 after an MRI.
How have your symptoms changed over time?
My relapses have always coincided with my stress levels, and would occur every two to three months. I’ve decided not to take any MS medication choosing instead to work on stress management. This has proved successful, and my relapses are now every two-and-a-half years. One of the most difficult parts of MS is how often it changes. You can never know if what you can do today, you’ll be able to do tomorrow. It’s not knowing if your body will work tomorrow that I find the most difficult symptom to handle. Other than that, some of my most challenging symptoms include numb hands, spasms, pain, weak legs (so I can no longer walk long distances), and mood swings.
Pantin is showing how he takes a few steps at the time when going down stairs. This is incredibly helpful if you’re on crutches or unstable on your feet. – Karin