How a Dog Changed My Life
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For the first year of our marriage, Dustin and I rented a single-wide trailer on the edge of our college town from a little old lady and her deaf & blind husband. It was about 10 minutes from campus, on about an acre of land with the train tracks running right through the back and a big front lawn with a little fire pit for s’mores. It was the perfect newly-wed home for us; we loved having the space to entertain our friends and family for holidays (I cooked my first Thanksgiving turkey there) and having a garage for the car to prevent the snow piling up on it in the winter was a dream come true. The only downfall was that our little land lady was adamant that we were not to have any pets. Dustin and I so badly wanted to get a dog, especially because we had the yard for it!
To compensate for not being able to have a dog, Dustin and I volunteered at our local animal shelter every Saturday. We helped clean out cages, take dogs for walks, answered questions about the adoption process and even were allowed in quarantine to help with sick dogs or newborn pups. We were introduced to a slew of sweet, homeless dogs and got to love on them as much as we could. We were always heartbroken when we fell particularly hard for a pup and knew that we couldn’t take him or her home (there were 4 throughout the year that we would have adopted if we could) but loved working extra hard to make sure they got adopted to loving families.
During that first year of marriage, going to the shelter every weekend with Dustin was a life saver for me. I was starting to struggle with more post-chemo/survivor’s anxiety and was having a hard time adjusting to be home alone when Dustin had to work late on campus or at the office. I was irritable, lonely and finding that my anxiety was building to an unhealthy amount. Every weekend, being able to serve homeless animals with my husband and to feel the unconditional love they had for me lifted my spirits and helped me recharge for the next week.
When Dustin and I decided to move back into town to be closer to his office, we knew we had to find an apartment where we could finally bring a dog home. We found a great apartment complex around the corner from his office and moved in. We figured we would take our time and wait until the right dog came along instead of rushing and adopting one that weekend (although it was tempting). During that first week that we were in our new apartment, I mentioned to my students that we were going to start looking for a dog! One of my kids said that he had a neighbor who had a litter of puppies he was trying to home and was going to be bringing them to the shelter by the end of the week. Intrigued, I got the contact information and Dustin & I ventured out to take a peek at the pups just for fun.
There were three puppies when we got there and only one female one. Dustin and I had already decided we wanted a girl, so I immediately scooped up the little girl. She was muddy and wet from playing in the snow, but as I hoisted her in my arms, she snuffled my ear and rested her head on my shoulder and I just knew. I knew with a certainty that this was our dog.
We brought Rosie home the next day and our lives completely changed. She brought Dustin and I closer on so many levels as we worked together to potty train her, to teach her to use the stairs, and to stay out of the trash. She’s taught us how to make sacrifices to put her needs before ours, to realize what it means to take care of something that completely relies on you to provide for it. She helped us make some of the best friends we’ve ever had through her choice of puppy playmates at the dog park.
Perhaps the most important thing Rosie Lynn has done for me is to become my best little pal and the bearer of my anxiety and my physical limitations. In the last 6 months, Dustin and I have task trained Rosie; which means that she can now preform “tricks” that specifically help me with some of my mobility issues that came with my knee replacement. For example, I do not have the strength in my artificial joint to lift myself up from the floor or from crouched positions. Rosie can brace against my weight and let’s me lean on her and use her for balance and support when I need to get up and no one else is home to help me. Rosie can open certain kinds of doors or “knock” on them if they don’t have the right kind of handle, which is extremely helpful when I’m carrying something and can’t bend my knees to put it down or pick it back up. And, when I’m having an anxious day or feeling weighed down by survivor’s guilt, Rosie is always by my side and extra cuddly because she knows I need the company.
My dog changed my life and continues to do so daily. I am stronger, braver and more confident with her by my side. I’m not afraid to be home by myself with a knee that sometimes gives out because I have her to lean on. I am so glad that Dustin and I went to look at those puppies that night before they were taken to the pound, and so grateful that Rosie choose us to be her family.
After a year volunteering at the shelter and rescuing (I consider Rosie a rescue since she was almost taken to the shelter) our own pup, my heart was filled with joy when I found out that Sam’s Club has partnered with PEDIGREE® for pet month. Whenever you (or I) purchase a PEDIGREE® product from Sam’s Club in the month of October, PEDIGREE® will donate a bowl of food to a dog in need. Sam’s club has a variety of PEDIGREE® products to choose from, including their tasty PEDIGREE® Adult Dry Dog Food and Rosie’s FAVORITE type of chew, the PEDIGREE® DENTASTIX®. Dustin and I went to Sam’s club last week and bought Rosie a big box of the PEDIGREE® DENTASTIX® and are planning to go back to get their 55 lb bag of Adult Dry Dog Food to donate when we go to Scottsdale’s Shelter Fair this coming weekend. I am so grateful that there are companies out there who are willing to help raise awareness about rescue dogs and to help shelters out with feeding them. I know first hand how hard it is at times for shelters to find the money to feed their dogs, especially when the kennels are full.
If you don’t live close by to a Sam’s Club, you can still help! For every photo uploaded to Instagram or Twitter and tagged with #latershelter, PEDIGREE® will still donate a bowl of food and you might be featured on the Sam’s Club website.
Do you have a dog or pet that has changed your life? Have you every volunteered at a shelter? I want to hear about your experiences with your pups and how they help you and if you upload a photo to Instagram, leave the link in the comments so I can see!
And, be sure to follow me on Instagram to follow my adventures with Rosie.