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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I just read the story about Gunner and his people mom! I also have Lupus and I have a Miniature Schnauzer named Oreo that's 5 1/2 years old and I have had him since he was only a few weeks old. I recently adopted two more dogs that are little white malti-poos and they are about 4 years old, I was told. They ALL fill my life with UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and LOYALTY that NONE of my HUMAN "FRIENDS" have lived up to! Because of "religious differences" - all of my FORMER FRIENDS have CHOSEN to cut me out of their lives TOTALLY as if I am DEAD! It is a LEGALISTIC/CULTLIKE ORGANIZATION that hides behind the TITLE of a RELIGION but all they do is preach that they are a LOVING WORLDWIDE BROTHERHOOD while at the same time, throwing out lifelong members that may not agree with every RULE they have whether it is in the BIBLE or not! Needless to say, having formerly been a very "People Person" to now being totally DISABLED and across the country to where I knew nobody and then suffered a devastating accident! I could not BELIEVE it when THAT was when they tossed me out like yesterday's garbage, even my BEST friend since early childhood and we are both in our 50's now and I NEVER dreamed SHE would turn on me!! Thank God that DOGS don't do those kinds of cruel things! When you are down, they get down right there cuddled up next to you!! THAT'S TRUE FRIENDSHIP! If I had not had the love and friendship of my dogs when my PEOPLE turned on me and left me ALONE, I don't think I would have wanted to live much longer because I was so deeply hurt in my heart!! With Lupus, you REALLY do not need STRESS and when PEOPLE make your life more stressful than it's worth, you NEED a DOG to let you know that you still matter and just carressing their fur actually lowers your blood pressure and heart rate and actually makes you RELAX all over and that is GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH ALL OVER, IN GENERAL! My Prescription for Lupus, Depression, Flu, Migraines, High Blood Pressure? Go to your LOCAL SHELTER and adopt TWO DOGS and CALL ME IN THE MORNING!! Then? Be a responsible Pet Owner and have your animals spayed or neutered to avoid pet overpopulation that causes far too many humans to give up those pets that depend on them and their humans betray them by letting them get euthanized!! Only something HUMANS WOULD DO, HUH? That's just TERRIBLE! WE ARE SUPPOSED TO SET THE EXAMPLE FOR ALL OTHERS AND BE LOVING AND CARING FOR OUR HUMAN AND ANIMAL FRIENDS!! It STARTS with YOU!