Joanne Rubin Gruskin: Research on Service Animals

Along with my writing (I'm working on a cookbook about people foods for pets) and blogging, and after having been a designer, salesperson, business person, Realtor, writer, proofreader, and ...I am currently engaged in my best project yet. Joanne Rubin Gruskin.jpg

I am working with my daughter Elisabeth who is a medical researcher, having been awarded grants to do quantitative and qualitative analysis of issues regarding public health. She recently met a woman who trains service dogs for several applications including multiple sclerosis, PTSD, autism and the mental and physical disabilities. 

Elisabeth had interacted with several people with MS, most of whom were not aware of the positive contributions service dogs can make toward improving their quality of life. Since I have worked with her in the past, helping write her grant applications, PhD thesis, and a book, she asked me to work with her. 

We had been studying the symptoms and effects of MS and met a woman from the Orlando area who trains and places service dogs. When she was ready to pair two MS patients with service dogs, she invited us to join her "boot camp" to observe the contributions of the dogs to their partners.

We have been observing the interactions between service dogs and their partners and are totally convinced that we must raise awareness among the general public that service dogs are more than just seeing-eye dogs. The effects of the pairing of the dogs with their partners were astounding. The dogs guide wheelchairs, help prevent falls, open doors, press elevator buttons, retrieve dropped objects, turn on lights, and, perhaps most encouraging, contribute to improving the mood and eliminating the isolation experienced by the physically challenged. 

With the service dogs, MS patients can get around by themselves and experience the independence that their illness destroyed. I spoke to one of the participants a day after she arrived home and she said that for the first time in years, she awakened happy and eager to get on with her day. She hadn't even realized that she had been suffering from depression as a result of her MS.

Elisabeth and I ultimately intend apply for a grant to conduct a research project to prove that there is a significant improvement to the quality of life for MS patients as a result of their partnering with service dogs, Since the grant process takes so long, we have decided first to write a book to chronicle the lives of some of the people and their dogs. That way we will be able to raise awareness and get the word out more efficiently.

I'm now doing what I've always wanted to do--write a cookbook, about dog food and people food.

Some of Joanne's work:

MS Beyond Meds

MS Beyond Meds Blog

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