My prose fails to be poignant at this point. It is an issue of illness I am afraid. Whatever the meds don’t mask, the stress distorts, and I find myself in a position where it is impossible to articulately convey myself. For the purposes of moving on and remaining productive however, I have come up with a simple list in lieu of my regular journal entries/essays this week on a topic I have wanted to write on for a long time.
What having a service animal means to me:
- My depression will never become deadly again. Before that happens, the dog will make certain that I call someone to help fix some food and open the door for a walk. Depression is a sneaky brute and sometimes I don’t realize just how far into its clutches I have been drawn until there is a total breakdown. In an ideal world, keeping the dog exercised daily would provide all the serotonin required for a positive mental outlook, but sometimes, even when I’m medicated, I continue to function only for the love of my dog, and I am more likely to seek assistance when the dog’s health is on the line rather than just my own.
- I will never be alone again. There will always be a welcoming hug waiting for me, and an appreciative full-body grin to back it up. My dog’s not going to leave because I get sick, he’s going to adapt to my illness and do his best to set me straight. There is stability in knowing someone will always be on your side, and because I have thumbs, my dog will be there forever.
- I will always have something or someone to divert myself with when I am panicked or agitated. There is a healing quality to the training of my dog. We both win…I am calmed, he learns a new trick and we both get to enjoy the click and treat ritual. I have used my dog as an excuse to go out in public when I would not otherwise do so. My theory is that being a Chihuahua, he needs extra socialization to overcome natural fears. In reality, we are both overcoming the tension created by being in an uncomfortable situation.
- My grossly inappropriate behavior will no longer go without address. My dog doesn’t care about hurting my feelings, and when I’m rude or wrong, he tells me so without compunction. I am more likely to take advice kindly when it comes from the dog as well. For whatever reason, even when I cannot interact successfully with other people, my dog has my ear and I have his.
- My life will never again be without purpose or direction. I am required to continue our education constantly. Being a Chihuahua, my dog needs to be in training or he will regress into a yappy, snappy, aggressive, possessive little being. The only way to a confident toy dog that will pass the Delta exams is through continuous schooling in some new subject. When the dog’s a puppy, this is easy. As he gets older, it gets more challenging to find appropriate new pastimes. This requires discipline, direction, leadership and effort on my part. Because of my mental instability, those are some things that I could not get anywhere else in the world.
I will never again forget to work hard and rest easy. My dog teaches me how to get up early and use my energy with an intense, positive focus so that I can unwind in tranquility at the end of a glorious day.