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Stronger Together

Doctors tell lupus patients to avoid stress, but stress didn’t avoid her. That’s where a white and fluffy pooch came in.

By Jackie Surls, Austin, Texas

As appeared in

We ventured farther on our walks, and before long it seemed we’d met everyone in the apartment complex. The maintenance man was Gunner’s favorite. He’d sit on the guy’s lap and go for a ride in the golf cart, ears perked.

One evening Joey, Gunner and I went for a walk together. Every time a neighbor approached, Gunner trotted ahead to greet them. “Wow, look at that,” I said to Joey. “He’s really gotten over his shyness.”

“I’m looking at something else,” Joey said. “You. Do you realize we’ve been walking for almost a mile?”

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“Really?” My knees weren’t aching. Come to think of it, I wasn’t tired, either. In fact, I felt better than I had in months. My lupus flare was finally subsiding. Could it be that helping Gunner had helped me too? I couldn’t wait to call Mom.

Nine months after Gunner became part of our family, he met Mom. I landed a job on a biotech research-and-development team in Texas, not far from where she lives. “Now I see why you wanted this dog,” she said. “You need Gunner as much as he needs you.”

You know what? I have to admit, she’s right about that.


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