They say dogs have a way of finding the person that needs them the most. Little did I know when I first heard that statement how very true it was.
I believe animals – especially dogs, have the capacity to offer hope where there is nothing but darkness and despair. Whether it be addiction, mental health, homelessness, or any other of life’s challenges, dogs have an ability to make you feel loved and cared for when you are completely alone and incapable of loving yourself.
My first experience of this was fifteen years ago. A five-week-old Yorkshire terrier entered my life. Like so many others, he was a victim of the insidious puppy farm industry which runs rampant in this country. Taken from his mother too soon, his little life was plagued with difficulties & health problems. Yet, despite that, he gave me so much, he taught me how to be courageous and strong, he taught me never to give up in the face of adversity. I truly believe he is one of the reasons I am still here today.
There have been several times in my life that I have felt unable to face another day. During those times, my dog sat by my side unwaveringly hour after hour, day after day. When, despite interventions from family, friends, and professionals I could not see a way out, when I no longer had the strength to fight, his presence and knowing that I had to find a way to get out of bed, to feed him, to walk him – that kept me alive for just one more day.
For some, help and support comes in the form of people, hospitals and institutions. But what about those who have lost the ability to trust? Or those who through addiction or homelessness have lost contact with people who may have once offered them kindliness? What about those who have lost all hope that anyone can help them?