Dr. Angela Lim’s Yorkie-terrier mix, Lulu, is a true rescue dog. She was one of 100-plus dogs saved from a Dixon puppy mill, and one of the very last of the lot to be adopted.
“When I spotted her at the shelter, all I saw was a white poof of hair. She was down below a bunch of other hyper dogs trying to sniff them all,” she remembers.
Lulu still has high energy, but she’s also very calm and friendly. And as far as Dr. Lim is concerned, she’s great therapy dog material. “I’d love to train her to be a therapy dog,” she says. “Pets can have such a calming effect on people.”
A doctor of osteopathy who specializes in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) at the Center for Primary Care in Vacaville, Dr. Lim has seen therapy dogs in action. During her residency in Grand Rapids, Mich., she had a friend who started a private practice—with her dachshund, Ally, as a fixture in the office from Day 1.
“It was wonderful how comfortable the patients were with her. Ally would follow her around from appointment to appointment. Sometimes she’d be dressed like a princess and you’d find her curled up next to the charts.”
Dr. Lim didn’t have time for pets during her residency, but a month after she established her practice in Vacaville, she started visiting the Vacaville SPCA and soon found the right match.
Now she has two pups, later adding a 4-month-old cockapoo named Oliver. “He’s got a similar temperament to Lulu, but not quite as calm. She just flops in your arms like a stuffed toy. She’s calm, she doesn’t jump, she’s not skittish around moving doors or loud noises,” she notes, ticking off Lulu’s virtues.
Dr. Lim loves to talk to patients about her pets, and they share stories about theirs. “It’s a great conversation starter. It humanizes me to them, and my patients to me.” She also uses pets to promote exercise. “Often, I’m trying to encourage my patients to get moving. Having a pet that needs to be walked is a great motivator.”
Of course, not everyone has the wherewithal to adopt a dog or cat. “If they love animals but aren’t ready to take on the responsibility, they might consider volunteering at a local shelter,” she says. “Volunteer to walk a dog and get some exercise at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.”
Local Shelters Provide Wonderful Pets
If you want to add an animal friend to your family, visit your local animal shelter. You’ll find pets in all shapes and sizes, from puppies and kittens to adults and oldsters, all seeking a second chance in life. You’ll also meet the dedicated staff and volunteers who can help you find a companion who matches your lifestyle, family and home. Pets aren’t limited to cats and dogs, either. You’ll often find rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and rats, as well as the occasional farm animal.
Most animals land at the shelter through no fault of their own. They are often the victims of a death, illness, divorce, or a move that didn’t include them. Adopting a shelter pet not only saves a life, it’s one more way to combat animal overpopulation.
In Vacaville, the SPCA of Solano County is located at 2200 Peabody Road. Call (707) 448-7722 or visit www.solanospca.com. In Fairfield, the Solano County Animal Shelter is located at 2510 Clay Bank Road. Call (707) 784-1356 or visit www.solanocounty.com/depts/sheriff/animalcare.