I owe you all a Willow update. She is still happy here, and we are still happy to have her.
She has a stomach fit for a delicate flower. She is apparently allergic or overly sensitive to something in dog food. Which has resulted in me dealing with far too many "virus/infections" than I care to disclose. That said, I've finally put my finger on her gastro-intestinal distress, and I mix up a batch of rice, chicken, pumpkin, and broth once a week, and then mix dog food into it daily, so she gets the nutrients she needs without getting sick. I cannot even begin to tell you the mess and stress that put on me and Elise until it got ironed out.
During that time, Elise had taken to sitting outside of her cage and talking to her. And talking and talking...it was funny. They apparently bonded deeply from their conversations, because now they are inseparable. Elise will put her on her lead and drag her all over the house and talk "through" her. Willow just loves the attention.
Here's the newly cool part.
Elise is stuttering again. Badly. She gets so gummed up that sometimes her singing and tapping out past it wasn't even working. Sing-songing her words and tapping the syllables used to be the silver bullet that always fixed it. But when she talks to Willow, she does not stutter. At all.
Even more interestingly, Elise has taken to talking through Willow as Willow's voice to express her feelings. Willow, shockingly, has remarkably the same feelings about everything as Elise. She doesn't like veggies, she's hungry, she needs a snack, she wants to read, she wants to watch TV, she wants to see the same movies, she hates the "loud in her ears" as we have construction going on in the basement....and so on.
And she never stutters as Willow's voice.
Even as she is petting Willow, and for a while after, the stuttering either doesn't show up or resolves quickly.
I spoke to Elise's Speech Therapist about this phenomenon. Kathleen told me that Animal Assisted Therapy is particularly effective, and there is quite a push to incorporate animals as much as possible, because it really does have an impact. The animals lessen stress, and smooth many verbal disfluencies. Even if there are only pictures, computer animals, or animal puppets, they see many of the same benefits, and it is still referred to as Animal Assisted Therapy.
So. Not only are we seeing a decrease in Elise's anxieties and stress and sensory issues, but we are seeing a huge impact on her speech that we simply weren't expecting. Willow is a lovey and I leave you with some of out latest pictures of the "girls" together.
(Oh, and Willow got a haircut for the summer. I was terribly afraid that Elise would panic and refuse to believe it was still her, as it made her look incredibly different. But Elise knew her baby and loves it as it makes Willow's fur even silkier.)