The Healing Power of Animals

Griffin Door, Griffin for short, is a Goldendoodle covered with the most wonderfully soft, fussy golden fur—from his cuddly head down to his cute fluffy paws. He’s 85 pounds of adorable, and absolutely irresistible to any dog lover or child who walks by. But he has a very important job to do, so he’s not always available for his fans to pet. Mom needs him to stay on task so she can maintain her mobility and balance.

Griffin’s mom is Lynne Lo Cascio, also a golden blonde beauty. She has the best laugh and we can always tell when she walks into the room because the scent of flowers seems to follow her wherever she goes. She and Griffin make a great pair and have been together for about two years, meeting at a place called Power Paws, where they learned to be an inseperable team.

My friend Lynne has had Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for more than 30 years. Although the effects of the MS have permeated several areas of her life, the most challenging obstacle that threatens her independence is the permanent damage to her vestibular system. With Griffin by her side, her balance challenges are almost imperceptible, but without him, she compares her balance to that of someone who’s had way too much alcohol: she’s wobbly, can’t balance well, and is at great risk of falling.

His support is so important to her that she tries not to leave the house without him. When they are home, she does her best to give him time off, but he’s still always there when she needs him.

“If I’m having a hard day, he’ll be a working dog inside too. He’ll take my shoes off, open doors and turn the lights on if needs be. He supports me emotionally too,” Lynne confided in me one day.

She recently went on a vacation, and she and her husband Sal decided not to take Griffin with them. They were both quickly reminded how much he actually does for her. Before Griffin, Lynne had depended solely on Sal to help her get around in public, and her balance is even more precarious today than it was two years ago, making things even more difficult.

She always jokes about all of the equipment she’s tried for balance, saying she could put up a whole display. The only real help she’s found, other than Sal’s strong arms, has been Griffin.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to live without Griffin,” she always says.

However, Griffin isn’t her only four legged companion. She has a huge orange kitty named Hercules, a miniature donkey named Tom Thumb that loves nothing more than to have his ears rubbed, a miniature paint horse named Mickey and last but not least, Pebbles, her rat terrier. They each have something special to share with Lynne, whether its through helping her or just being around as a companion, and most importantly, they all thoroughly enjoy her own special brand of magic too.