[6.9] The Dog who Changed my Life

A few weeks ago, I posted about my anxiety and depression and how it tag-teams. I talked about my first major depressive episode, and how it made everything impossible to do. I talked about how the only interaction I had with the outside world was with people when I walked my dog, and how I struggled to appear normal.

This story is about that dog.

For anonymity purposes, I’m not going to share his name. We’ll just call him Dog.

Dog had severe anxiety (sounds like both of his owners) but he was cute, and he was my first ever dog. We walked into the SPCA and there he was, part Jack Russell, part beagle, yapping and bouncing three feet in the air, looking like some sort of special dog where God put together the body of one dog and a head of another from the $0.75 bin at the discount store and created a dog.

He stole my God Damn heart.

We had him for nearly a year and a half before the inevitable happened. We took him to Maine for a weekend trip. We moved and had him in two different locations. We gave him Benadryl when he would panic and cuddled with him incessantly.

We got him three days before I entered the depression, and while I was wallowing around, feeling bad for feeling bad, this little ball of neurotic dog energy kept me company, forcing me to go outside to let him pee, running around, forcing me to chase him when it was time for his flea and tick medicine.

And then he would be tuckered out and he would snuggle while I watched Netflix and cried.

Everything riled him up. The vacuum. The cars. The leaves falling off of the trees. A running Reuben sandwich on an Arby’s commercial. Anything and everything.

Eventually we couldn’t take care of him anymore. We couldn’t give him the attention that he needed. It took weeks for my husband to convince me to give him up. He had been there for me when it felt like no one else was. I couldn’t just abandon a creature as freaked out by the world as I had once been.

One Tuesday, I put Dog in my car on my day off and drove the two hours from our house to the original SPCA where we adopted him from. I picked him up and carried him and all of his accouterments into the office, where I said quietly that I needed to return our dog. She took him from me, into the back area, and then came back and asked me detailed questions for thirty minutes about him and his personality. I donated the rest of his food and treats, and I left.

My father called on my way home and I told him that I had just dropped Dog off. He said that it was for the best. I agreed and the conversation ended.

My mother-in-law (who knew of the plan) called next, saying she was sorry that I had to go and take the dog all by myself. I tearfully said thank you and hung up. I then pulled over onto the shoulder and cried.

I met my husband at his workplace. I didn’t want to go home when Dog wasn’t there, I said. He agreed and then hugged me. He was proud of me, yet shocked that I had gone and done the deed alone.

That entire week, we ate out for dinner. A poor decision financially, but by the fifth night, the truth came out: neither of us wanted to be home without Dog. As annoying and yappy as he had been, we missed him. We missed the daily walks and the joy of something or someone greeting us whenever we got home. I missed the snuggles. I think we both missed the snuggles.

We eventually got a new dog. She is bigger and a soft sweetie and we love her very much. Dog, though, will always hold a place in my heart and ours. He will forever be the dog who, though unconventional means, showed us that love is universal, and that dogs are truly man’s best friend.

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