Does Your Greatest Teacher Have Fur?

Reprinted with the kind permission of Sue Ingebretson and Rebuilding Wellness.

Editor’s comment: Sue writes about her beloved Sheltie, Pup, in her book FibroWHYalgia. Pup also “pens” a regular column in her monthly newsletter, Sue’s News.

Pup (aka Foxy Grace), has been the boss at my house for more than a decade. She blew in like a hurricane wind sometime in 2003 and has now settled down to an on and off (mostly off) breeze.

As much as it pains me to say it – I must admit that Pup is firmly entrenched in her geriatric years. It seems unthinkable that this crazy, furry, frenetic ball of energy simply isn’t as energetic as she once was. She now decides whether or not to chase bunnies in the back yard. Most often it’s “yes,” but I can see the hesitation in her take off as well as the limp in her (still triumphant) return.

When she came to our home as a rescued pup, (yes, she’s a shelter Sheltie!), she exhibited startling health issues right away. The most drastic concerns were her absolute lack of appetite and massive fur loss. For a Sheltie, losing fur really is a fright. Some may even describe Shelties as “dogs who have a bunch of fur surrounding a sweet little face.” Sadly, within a few months of settling into our home, Pup resembled a hairless Chihuahua more than she did a Sheltie.

Our vet chased around some ideas, from parasites to mange, but soon enough, settled on a diagnosis. He said, “Let me tell you about autoimmune disease.”

I was shocked. I replied, “Are you kidding? Let ME tell YOU about autoimmune disease!”

It’s no coincidence that Pup came into my life just as I was researching, studying, and seeking to confirm what I’d found regarding my own health challenges. Like a Sheltie herding sheep, my own research kept bringing me back ‘round to fibromyalgia and the autoimmune realm.

Of course, there’s no such thing as coincidences. I’m now far more aware and understand these Divinely Guided Events. Pup came to me so that we could heal together.

Upon her diagnosis, my vet said, “Changing her nutrition can help her to heal.”

Now … isn’t it absolutely nutty that my rheumatologist said – to my face – that what we eat makes no difference at all?

Even my vet (not to mention my dog) knew better than that.

Out of experimental curiosity, I changed Pup’s diet and began making her food. It turns out that she didn’t have an appetite problem. She instinctively knew that the foods she had been eating were making her sick. Even the expensive brands didn’t work. Once we changed her diet, she ate like a horse, had the energy of 10 horses, and her fur grew in almost instantaneously. She was practically bald one day and a fur ball the next. 

My mealtime experiment with her confirmed everything I was experiencing with my own health. As I’ve mentioned many times, I first changed my nutritional plan, then incorporated a daily fitness regimen, and the final piece of my health puzzle was to deal with my emotional wellness issues (sleep, stress-relief, etc.). I’ve since learned that the order of implementing what I now call, The Restoration Trio (nutrition, fitness, emotional wellness) doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter if you do them all at once. But, they’re all mandatory. No exceptions.To heal — you must eat well, move regularly, and deal (in positive ways) with stress and emotional issues.

Pup’s restored health was nothing short of miraculous. Mine was miraculous, too, but it took some time. I had to learn patience. And, for every step I’ve taken, Pup has been here with me. In fact, Pup has comforted, taught, and scolded me in ways like no one else could. She intuitively knows when I’ve been sitting too long. She makes me get up and chase her around a bit. She’d not a cuddler (she has strict lovey dovey limits) but in the times when I need her most, she stays closer than a shadow. She knows what I need and when I need it.

I’m willing to bet you know exactly what I mean.

Do you have a teacher with fur in your life? Or maybe yours has fins or even feathers? Share your story below and tell me how your beloved companion(s) have impacted your health journey!

And, if you haven’t found that companion yet, please consider adopting a pet from your local shelter. Here’s a great place to start:


Sue Ingebretson ( is an author, speaker, certified holistic health care practitioner and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. She is also a Patient Advocate/Fibromyalgia Expert for the Alliance Health website and a Fibromyalgia editor for the ProHealth website community.

Her #1 Amazon best-selling chronic illness book, FibroWHYalgia, details her own journey from chronic illness to chronic wellness. She is also the creator of the FibroFrog™– a therapeutic stress-relieving tool which provides powerful healing benefits with fun and whimsy.

Do you know that breakfast has the greatest potential to contribute to your PAIN? Grab your free Stop Feeding Yourself PAIN guide here and learn why!

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One thought on “Does Your Greatest Teacher Have Fur?”

  1. artdog says:

    My best friend is eleven and one half yrs old and works every day even though he suffers from a deadly bite or sting when he was two and it caused a weakened immune system made him sterile etc. He is third generation service dog and an International Champion show dog with a gold health certificate despite his challenged immune system. He is the oldest Boston Terrier,I’ve ever owned as all of his maternal ancestry passed before they were ten yrs. I had given his mother to a friend when his grandfather and two greatgrandfathers passed———they were family and I couldn’t deal so gave all my breeding stock to my friend and didn’t touch a dog any dog for four long years. When I’d healed enough to start again I purchased two Champions and gave one to my friend who in turn gave me my ANGEL and a year later his brother too. Angel was acquired for show purpose not as a working dog but immediately he showed superior intelligence to any animal I’ve ever known and I’ve known a great many. He decided I needed a service dog and has prevented one hundred and fifty falls a year and he knows when others have illness or an injury and will point them out immediately. He is my doctor too and always knows where I hurt the most even though I didn’t realize it. He gives ‘lick’ massages and will lick until the pain level peaks and then washes it away. His lick is (most unusually) dry. At eight yrs he spent a night in the hospital with me. At ten years of age he was tested with two disabled persons and worked as he does for me with the gentleman and pulled the lady in her wheelchair—–wish I had it on film, he was as he always is WONDERFUL. Everyone he meets loves him and everyone thinks he’s beautiful. He’s very gray and is beginning to lose some sight as has had a ‘dry eye’ condition for years and has some arthritis in his feet and one shoulder pains him at times. When working he’s always a gentleman. I could go on and on about him—-I’ve no idea what I’ll do when the ever so dreadful day/night arrives I barely survived his greatgrandfathers leaving and my Angel is so much more. My miracle dog, he looks like one and acts like the other but is himself as well, my ever so precious boy. Thankyou for your article I’m tearing up so must go.

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