Neither nostril will take in air, my ears pop with every swallow, my body fluctuates between shivering and sweating, and I can’t hold my head up for more than 10 minutes. Flu season. To make matters worse (please, join in my pity party), I am all alone in a friend’s apartment for the week. No nurse, no familiar comfort, and no energy to hit up the drug store. What do I have? Tea, grapefruit, and my man Smitty (and, of course, countless hours of cooking shows).
We all feel lonely at some point, whether it’s justified or not, but being sick pushes loneliness to a level of aggravation, self-pity, and boredom. With having cable for the first time in 4 years, I have found myself passing hours by watching everything from cooking competitions to news coverage to celebrity gossip. And I have found that this time killer has only heightened my aggravation, self-pity, and boredom. An entire hour dedicated to celebrity bodies? Kill me, please. Since lifting my arms high enough to hold a book was not a possibility, my only form of comfort and entertainment was my pug Smitty.
Dog therapy has been a hot topic over the past decade. Therapy Dogs International has conducted many studies, concluding that over 99% of participants experienced positive benefits from having a dog with them. Dogs create cheer, reduce stress, and increase socialization. So, it is no surprise that Smitty has raised my spirits during this week of sneezing, coughing, and general suckiness. But I am convinced that Smitty has done even more. Here are my very unscientific reasons for how Smitty has helped me fight the flu:
1. He gets excited when I sneeze
Normally, having sneezing fits of 20 in a row will make me clench my fists and growl with frustration. However, having a wrinkly, wiggly pug run over and press his wanna-be nose on my shoulder every time I sneeze has changed my negative association with sneezing.
2. He’s always more stuffy than me
Just take a look at this face. He sniffles when healthy, which I must say gives me a little perspective.
3. He listens and responds
I know this may be cheesy and a bit cliché, but when I want to be a whiner the only one that reacts positively is Smitty. I whine, his tail wags. I whine, he licks my face. I whine, he snuggles.
Although poor Smitty has gotten little exercise this week as he and I have only made it from the couch to three feet outside the door, I think he’s been happy to give pug hugs. In fact, I’m typing with one hand as the other has a furry face snuggled in it.