Michael J. Fox says having a pet can help people with chronic illnesses “open up”.
The ‘Back to the Future’ star has been battling Parkinson’s disease - which affects the brain and causes problems like shaking and stiffness - since 1991, and has now praised the work of support animals in helping those who suffer with chronic illnesses feel less alone.
He said: “You know that no matter your situation, no matter what you feel, this animal is with you and is connected to you, and you feel. It’s a force multiplier.
“Your instinct when you have a chronic illness is to sometimes isolate and make your world as small as possible so you don’t have much to deal with, but a dog will open you up.”
The 59-year-old actor also opened up about his own dog, Gus, whom he praised with being a key part of his recovery following surgery he had two years ago to remove a tumour from his spinal cord, which forced him to relearn how to walk.
Speaking to CBS News for the network’s new primetime special, ‘The Pet Project’, he added: “He kind of circles the wheelchair with this low kind of woof woof, woof woof, and sat in front of the wheelchair right in front of me, and looked at me, and I said, 'It’s going to be okay.’ ”
Michael recently described his 2018 surgery and subsequent recovery period as his “darkest moment”, but said the ordeal helped him learn that “optimism is really rooted in gratitude”.
He said: “Optimism is sustainable when you keep coming back to gratitude, and what follows from that is acceptance. Accepting that this thing has happened, and you accept it for what it is. It doesn’t mean that you can’t endeavour to change. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it as a punishment or a penance, but just put it in its proper place. Then see how much the rest of your life you have to thrive in, and then you can move on.”
This article originally ran on celebretainment.com.