I think I may save thousands of dollars in therapy bills just because I have a dog. There are wonderful times in life, and then there are times when lets face it, we are all just trying to make it through the best we can. I think having a dog is a good alternative to spending money on some overpriced therapist. Dogs are devoted companions and great listeners. I have shared in the past that Teddy really helps me keep my anxiety levels down. I know that many people have had similar stories. Dogs are so in tune with human emotions, especially when it is their human. If I cry, which I promise is not that much, Teddy is immediately at my side trying to kiss me and nudge me as if to say “Hey I’m here, don’t worry, we can get through this together!” (At least that’s how I hear his voice in my head). If its a long ugly cry he just curls up next to me, settling in for the long haul. I could talk to another human, I have plenty of friends & family, but sometimes you just need someone to sit silently by your side and accept you no matter how ridiculous you are being.
Last week when I went to my local shelter to volunteer it was pure therapy. I just had one of those weeks where I was physically and mentally exhausted. I got there dwelling on whatever had been going on and as soon as a saw those happy little faces and wagging tails it all melted away. I think I needed them as much as they needed me. So I proceeded to love up the doggos and had a great night with my fellow volunteers. It really resets my brain, until the next catastrophic event that is. (too dramatic?) The point is that you can find your own free therapy, you just need to find something that makes you feel like you have a purpose and that you are making a difference in the world. I promise it will pull you away from all the negativity and chaos going on around you.
Teddy is far from being an actual “therapy dog”, you need a lot of training and the right temperament for that. As wonderful as he is, when I adopted him I knew that he was a “fearful dog” as his adoption paperwork stated. It’s hard for a dog that is fearful to be able to actually go places and be exposed to stressful situations. I’m totally fine with him being my own personal therapy dog. I do think it is amazing how dogs can really administer therapy to people in nursing homes, hospitals, airports etc. Remember my favorite shelter therapy dog Norbert? (https://www.norberthood.com/) My shelter has a program call Paws for Love and the dogs are trained to go to these places and just plain help people feel better. I’ve seen them at the airport when I was traveling and I know I felt a whole lot calmer after having a visit. When I was in college there was an adorable Wheaten Terrier that would sit in the career center during exam weeks and other stressful times and the students could just go in and spend time with him. Are you convinced yet that dogs are really good for our mental health?
When I was a teacher some of the special education children had therapy dogs at home to assist them with some of their special needs. As life led me away from teaching and into another career and my work at the shelter, I always thought it would be amazing to actually utilize both skills to help people. I would love to train dogs to be therapy pets for children, or anyone else that may need them. Whether it is in a career or just my personal time, this is definitely something that I would love to pursue.
So, thinking about going to see a therapist? Has life got you down? Maybe, just maybe, you should think about adopting a dog from your local rescue. You might just end up saving yourself hours and hours of therapy and heartache.
Pup of the Week:
There are so many amazing dogs at the shelter right now it was hard t pick! Meet Jax…he has been at the shelter for a few weeks now and he is such a sweet baby boy & so well behaved! Just look at those soulful eyes!