The Human’s Goat – a Dog!

Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet recently reported, “a cell type in the central nervous system known as oligodendrocytes might have a different role in the development of multiple sclerosis…The findings, published in the journal Neuron, could open for new therapeutical approaches to MS.” And just what are oligodendrocytes? They are the insulating layer that protects the nerves, and when damaged by immune cell attacks, neurological messages are lost resulting in new symptoms. New therapies targeting these cells may soon be on the horizon.

Image by Elgin Cook – Wild Mustangs – Bighorn Basin, Wyoming

Has anyone ever gotten your goat? Made you upset, angry, less able to perform a task due to an emotional block? That old saying originates from the horse races. Anxious horses do not perform well. When a goat is in the stall with a racehorse, it remains calm and performs better. However, if someone sneaks that goat away before the race, the horse becomes upset and finishes poorly. Hence, the phrase get your goat.

Rescue Ginger 2019 – Burlington, Wyoming
Me with rescue Solomon May 2015 – Sandy Beach, Alaska

What if I told you people have a goat that can calm and help them perform better. Good news! It’s true. According to Jill Suttie, author of “The Science-Backed Benefits of Being a Dog Owner,” the dog is the human’s goat. Okay, she didn’t call the dog a goat; in fact, she didn’t even mention the goat-racehorse relationship. However, she did note many studies linking dog ownership to reduced stress and anxiety. Other benefits she pointed out included:

  • Staving off loneliness.
  • Helping humans get along with others.
  • Keeping us healthier and moving.
Patricia O’Flaherty (my mom) in 2015 walking her rescue dog Molly despite having advanced COPD (she insisted on not having her O2 on for the photo)

As an MS patient, I have owned a dog for twenty years. One thing is for sure, my dogs have had me on my feet walking around the block, hiking in the great outdoors, and running errands for them. I often find myself walking at night, in blowing sideways rain and wind, through snowstorms, and on the rare occasion, a beautiful summer evening with perfect temperatures. I regularly think about how I would not be out there walking if I did not own a dog. I caution you, though; dogs are work and cost money, and being returned to the shelter breaks their little hearts. So don’t adopt one on my account – make sure you can be a forever home before picking up your furry pal, I mean goat.


Berkeley. “The Science-Backed Benefits of Being a Dog Owner.” Greater Good Magazine. (accessed February 15, 2022).

Karolinska Institutet. “New genetic clues on multiple sclerosis risk.” ScienceDaily. (accessed February 15, 2022).

About the Author

Melissa Cook
Melissa Cook is the author of As a retired high school teacher and school district administrator, she chooses to share her MS story in hopes of benefiting others.