Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Mutual rescue

My dog, Jet, is 7 years old today. Six years and 9 months ago, I rescued my boy. Who knows what his destiny may have been had he not been rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri by a Minnesota non-profit organization. He was living in a foster home about 2 hours away when I found his picture online. He was adorable, even though his original name,Virgil, wasn't.

I found Jet just 3 weeks after my first black-lab-mix running partner died suddenly. Puck was 12, and I had rescued him when he was only 8 weeks old. When Puck died I swore I would never get another dog. His death was that painful. But then I found Jet.

Jet has had a unique, silly, neurotic personality since the day I brought him home. He's a timid dog, and that lends itself to some very funny, neurotic behaviors. For example, he often follows me into the bathroom, but he won't walk out of the bathroom forward. Sometimes he stands there and contemplates walking out forward, but he always ends up turning around and backing his way out the door! No, I don't know why.

Jet loves to play, and he often does so all by himself. He frequently tosses a stick, ball, bone or toy in the air, pounces on it, and then repeats the process again and again. But if his toy, ball or bone ends up behind, under, or sometimes even near a piece of furniture, or a bush, or even a wall, he won't retrieve it. He stops short and stares at it. Sometimes he'll gingerly reach for it from as far away as possible, but if the thing it's near or under moves, he jumps away in fear! It makes for some pretty hilarious moments, especially at work.

Jet began coming to work with me very early in our relationship. He had to. I lived alone, he was a puppy, and there was no way he could stay alone all day without peeing! Initially he stayed in a kennel most of the day. But for the last 5-6 years he's had free reign of the physical therapy room. He knows he can't leave the room, but he likes to lie right in the door, especially if I've left to get a patient, with his paws in the hallway, and watch the procession of patients and staff as they amble by. He greets every patient and staff person with love. And they love him right back.

He loves going to work, and I'm so grateful I'm allowed to bring him. We get to spend every day together. He's good therapy for the patients, and I love watching them interact with him. He's a magician with some of our cranky, stubborn people, and he brings out personalities we rarely get to see in some of our dementia patients. He's not a therapy dog, officially, but he's a therapy dog.

I don't know what I'd do without my boy. I ran a few miles today without him, and it wasn't nearly as fun. It's much nicer to exercise with him than without him. And we don't just run together. He helps with push ups and sit ups, too. When I get down on the floor Jet's right there. It's as if he wants to assist, or at least give me a kiss, which is how he assists, I guess. He's a helper and a lover.

Jet seems to intuitively know when I need some extra love. In times of turmoil or depression he sticks close. He keeps me centered and grounded when my depression creates chaos in my brain. Even when I can't take care of myself, I have to take care of Jet, and that's a good thing. Sometimes he's the only reason I get out of bed. I love sharing my space with him, feeling him near (as he is right now), and taking care of him.

It's hard to believe Jet's already seven. I'm trying not to be sad about it. He's getting older, but we likely have many years left to share. I love him so much, I'd like him to be around forever. I'm so grateful I found him, or as I often tell him (yes, I talk to my dog), we found each other. I may have rescued him, but he rescues me on a daily basis. He makes me smile. He makes me laugh. He comforts me and fills my heart with joy. He's a dog, yes, but my life would be empty without him.

Happy Birthday, Buddy. I'm so glad we rescued each other.


1 comment:

Paul said...

You look beautiful in those pictures with Jet, and I mean that in a virtual friend way. (still beautiful!)

Just sayin'