The Hound of Entropy

Anyone who’s read more than one post on this blog or has even glanced at the sidebar could probably guess that I’m a big fan of my dog. I really love my dog, but that’s not the half of it. She changed, and in some ways, saved my life.

I have major depressive disorder. The older I get, the worse it gets. A couple of years ago, when I was unemployed, my depression was debilitating. I could not get out of bed. I didn’t eat. I cried all the time. I debated the best way to kill myself and who would get which belongings. My friends gave me an ultimatum: either get help on my own or they would get help for me in the form of committing me to psychiatric treatment where I would have no freedom. They were scared and rightfully so. I got help. I got medicated. I got a job.

I’d had dogs before, but not for a long time since the wounds of how they died were still too fresh, even ten years later. I was in an abusive relationship and I’m fairly certain that monster killed them. The concept of dogs was heartbreaking to me. It was full of shame and guilt that I was unable to help them. I couldn’t even help myself.

Not even two months after I got a job, I went to a pet store to buy cat food and stumbled into a shelter adoption. I walked in to buy cat food and walked out with an eight pound puppy. From the moment we locked eyes, I knew she was mine. I could not walk away. This picture was taken the very first day I brought her home.

Picture taken on the very first day I brought her home.

8 pounds of terror.

We’ve had our ups and downs. I’m very glad she’s not a puppy anymore although I do miss that cuteness. She will be two years old on Valentine’s Day, which is the same day I started my job. If I believed in such things as fate, well, this would be it.

I still have depression. It’s not like it ever goes away, even with medication. I can just cope a lot better now. Now, when the voice in my head tells me to end it, I can shoo it away a little easier, but it’s still there. My dog helps. When I get to thinking about who will get which belongings, I stop at my dog. I think about her living on without me, about how sad she would be if I were gone, and it stops right there. She makes it impossible for me to go any further with that train of thought. She has saved my life. It’s really difficult to be depressed or grumpy around her. She stares at you with those big eyes, ears back, tail gently wagging and it all just melts away.

My dog has a huge heart. She loves everyone: dogs, cats, humans, squirrels. Especially squirrels. Ever since she was a puppy, I’ve taken her everywhere with me. Well, everywhere you can take dogs anyway. I’ve sat outside freezing my butt off at restaurants just so I could have her there.

She has this intrinsic quality about her that makes people happy. Random people smile at her. I’ve had people say that they’re generally afraid of big dogs, but they come up and pet her anyway. People in cars at red lights will smile and wave at her. People walking by will stop and kneel and pet her for a good long while. A man that we regularly see at the coffee shop carries dog treats with him and he doesn’t even have his own dog. He carries them for her. Everyone wants to pet her and she wants to be petted by everyone.

A week or so ago, Male and I were sitting outside at the coffee shop and an old man in a wheelchair came out of his way to come pet her. She gently licked his hand and wagged her tail. He started crying. He said the worst part about getting old is not being able to care for a dog. He had dogs his whole life and he missed them so much. He stayed there for a good five minutes just petting her before he said, “Thank you so much for sharing her,” and rolled away.

My dog makes people happy. I want to share that. Not just with random strangers at coffee shops and restaurants, but with people who really need it like that old man. I want to register her as a therapy dog so that I can take her to hospitals and nursing homes and the like.

She’s still a little too hyper yet. She has a tendency to jump on people because she gets too excited, but I’ve been working on it and she’s getting better about it. I think the rest will come with age. When I’m completely sure that she won’t jump, I’m going to register her.

It might be difficult for me to do that with everything I’ve been through, but I think the benefits will outweigh any hardships. It’s not about me anyway; it’s about sharing the love and maybe saving someone else in need.

Does anyone have any experience with therapy dogs? If so, please, leave a comment. Advice would be appreciated.

There are 21 comments

  1. Not Quite Alice

    My hero http://myrabbitholes.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/my-hero-well-one-of-them/ is just like that. He’s a therapy dog. I love him. If it wasn’t for him, I swear, I would be inside a psychiatric hospital. Whenever I feel like I’m losing it, he is right there, lets me throw my arms around him and cry. Just sits there and lets me. I also take him to visit people. My grandfather had a stroke and is paralyzed on one side of his body. My hero, will go to his bed, put his paws up on his bed, lay his head down and just get his pets. Little kids will try riding him like a horse (yes, my nephew said he is one), and any animal met is his friend.
    I think your little girl will be an awesome therapy dog. :)

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  2. JackieP

    some years ago when I was in major depression and sat with a gun in my hand, my dogs literally saved my life. Like you, I looked at them and thought I couldn’t leave them. Who would take care of them. So yes I understand the connection and love between a dog and it’s owner. If I wouldn’t have had those dogs I’m not sure I would be whole and healed now. May light and love be yours and your girl’s.

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  3. Leisa

    What a beautiful healing dog you have, I think she will make a great therapy dog, I haven’t heard of therapy dogs, but I think this is wonderful. I have two dogs and I adore them to bits!

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  4. josefkul

    I have some experience with therapy dogs working in the hospital and I have had ‘unofficial’ therapy dogs we turned blind eyes to when the temperament was right. As long as your dog doesn’t growl, yell, or have impulse control problems then you shouldn’t have any problems. The patients love the dogs and whether family or strangers, dogs have a power over people as universally loyal creatures who will not judge that humans can’t themselves provide.

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  5. Polysyllabic Profundities

    Wow…that was beautiful. I feel the same way about Callaway. She truly has gotten me through some bad times. I’ve been taking her into the office lately and everyone loves having her. If I leave her home some days, I am always asked why I didn’t bring her. She is a dog that really does smile and brings a smile to others. I would love to register her as a therapy dog as well. I think your post just made me want to follow that up. She’s 5 1/2 now, so the puppy exuberance has waned. Time to do some research. :)

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    1. goldfish

      Yay! I think when mine gets a little bit older and the puppy is all gone, she’ll be a great therapy dog. I am so lucky to have a dog like her that I don’t want to be selfish about it. They really are amazing animals.

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  6. braith an' lithe

    She is lovely. Her face looks a bit Staffie, but as you say she’s a big dog, if she does have Staffie in her, there must be something longer legged too! Definitely, register her as a therapy dog when she’s got a wee bit more settled and grown up. I think it would be rewarding for her and you as well as the folk you visit. If I end up in a nursing home, someone bringing their dog to see me would probably be the highlight of my week.
    My old dog wasn’t officially a therapy dog, but she came to work a lot with me when I was a director of studies at a university (and also the only young/female member of staff, so seen by the students as more approachable). My dog and a big box of tissues helped many a person through bad times!
    My current dog is a greyhound (more of the story is in ‘walk on the wild side’ on my blog if you want to see pics!). They’re popular therapy dogs as so gentle and tall – you don’t have to bend over to pat them if you are wheel/chair/bedbound. And they’re lazy. So they’re used for those reading programmes with kids in the UK too!
    My hound is super affectionate, quiet and gentle, but would at the moment still be a bit too anxious in a nursing home or hospital – I’d be concerned she’d get confused and pee somewhere inappropriate! She lived in kennels all her days until she was nearly 5 . She’s learned all about my house and my parents’ house but she’s not been in bigger buildings yet. She’s only just got ‘going downstairs under control’ sorted out! But when I was on the fundraising walk, I met people who had a ‘Therapet’ – a great big black male greyhound. The sort of dog that makes people who don’t know dogs nervously cross the street when they see it! He was very mannerly and a total softie – his owner said he absolutely loves his weekly visits to a nursing home.
    Go for it!

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    1. goldfish

      I think she’s part pit bull or staffie, part German shepherd and part boxer, but who knows? She’s just a mutt.

      There’s a greyhound that goes to the dog park sometimes. Beautiful dog and fast as all get out. I always forget how tall they are. It’s awful what some people will do to animals. Keeping a dog in a kennel is just mean.

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  7. braith an' lithe

    Ah boxer, you’re right!
    Mutts are the way to go. My old girl was a mix of who knows, probably whippet and terrier. She lived till nearly 17.
    Greyhounds are good and healthy for pedigree dogs, but probably only due to the ruthless culling of the racing industry. And they’re clearly ‘overbred’ in the sense it’s all about the speed. Watching Amy trying to eat a dropped crust off the kitchen floor is like watching a giraffe – it’s really awkward for her.
    (D’oh – just realised actual photos of Amy are in ‘black dogs’ post not ‘walk no wild side’. Sorry.)

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    1. goldfish

      The reason I say boxer is because she’s shaped like one with the tiny waist, big chest and long legs. Plus, she boxes like one. Her face isn’t boxer at all though.

      I’ve only ever had mutts because I’ve only ever had shelter dogs. Maybe someday, I’ll try a breed rescue like your greyhound rescue, but I like mutts. You never know what you’re going to get.

      Greyhounds very much look like giraffes! Except they are definitely built for speed. Lovely dogs.

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  8. jrosenberry1

    Therapy dogs and kitties visited me at the hospital after my first cancer surgery. I am so glad you are considering registering her as a therapy dog. Some day I’ll have to write about how Farfel – my 13 year old schnauzer – has helped me and my family over the years. She’s watching me right now, saying, “Mommy, get off the computer … I need someone to pet me while I start my nap!” She’s helped with my anxiety and depression over the years. Her picture is on my site — blogitorloseit. Even if your doggie is bigger and younger, I’m sure she’d love her.

    Take care of yourself.

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    1. goldfish

      I can’t believe they have therapy cats, too. My cat would not be good at that at all. Ha.

      Animals really are amazing comfort, especially for those of us with depression or anxiety.

      I’ll have to take a look at your pup.

      Like

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