When Bill Hoover feels a bout of depression coming on, it’s almost like his two dogs can sense it.
Gotcha, a 13-year-old lhasa apso, and Daisey, an 11-year-old dachshund, snap into action. They might jump into Hoover’s lap while he sits in his recliner at his Vancouver apartment. Or maybe they’ll start to get excited in an effort to cheer him up.
As Hoover, 71, puts it, “Dogs are smart.”
“The dogs take depression away,” Hoover said, as Daisey licked the arm of his recliner. “They get a little more excited and get you wound up, and pretty soon that sadness goes away because they want to play. They know what it does for you.”
Gotcha has also developed a habit of licking Hoover’s face if his sleep apnea mask starts to slip off.
“I’d hate to lose her, because it would be devastating to me,” Hoover said.
Losing Gotcha was a scary possibility in May. Gotcha was hospitalized overnight when the dog started coughing up and pooping out blood. The vet needed to give Gotcha medicine, but the bill was too costly for Hoover to pay. That’s where CDM Caregiving Services Living with Dignity program stepped in.
CDM helped pay for Gotcha’s treatment, and kept Gotcha in Hoover’s life. CDM recently received a $10,000 grant from the Banfield Foundation for Living with Dignity, and wants to raise more money for the program and its clients.
“Having a pet brings so many benefits to humans,” said Kim Van Syoc, the executive director at the Banfield Foundation. “We believe the world is better because pets are in it.”
Living with Dignity offers resources to help clients purchase food for their pets and pay for vaccinations and other medical needs. Many CDM clients are low income and on Medicare and Medicaid.
“Oftentimes, the pets are the only thing other than the client in the family that has a heartbeat,” said Lisa Capeloto, the development director with CDM. “They’re extremely important to our clients.”
Sunni Ricks, 46, and Vincent Ricks, 55, can attest to that. The Washougal couple got a cat named Patches in 2016 as a wedding gift. Then another cat, Bubba, came as a Christmas present two years ago. They’ve utilized CDM’s program to get wellness checks and vaccinations for their cats, plus flea treatment and medication for Patches.
“The cats fill a void sometimes, because our phone doesn’t ring all day long,” Vincent Ricks said. “If it wasn’t for (our caretaker), we wouldn’t see anyone.”
Vincent compares the cats to small children. Bubba tried to climb their fridge during their interview with The Columbian, and Patches is described as a bit of a drama queen, but is still a lover at heart.
“Patches knows when I have a bad day to come sit on my lap more, and I pet her a lot,” Sunni Ricks said.
It’s a similar maneuver to what Hoover’s dogs do to cheer him up, when they lounge on the recliner with him. The dogs also give him exercise. He walks them between 2 1/2 and 5 miles per day, which has helped control his diabetes, Hoover said. But the best part about his dogs?
“You talk to them, and they don’t argue back with you,” he joked.