In the USA in 2015 according to adaa.org, an estimated 40 million people suffer from various forms of depression and anxiety.
I am one of those people. I’ve spent a lot of money on doctors, counselors, and medicine. None have really been effective for me. Once I got a dog, though…I have been able to not only reduce my meds (thus saving money and STRESS to my body), but I have also been able to deal with my mental issues more efficiently. I would like to point out this has been my own personal experience and may not work for you.
In January 2014, my adopted daughter, Lena, wanted to get a cat for who has Dup15q, a genetic disorder. We went to the Animal Welfare League, a no-kill Shelter just outside of Chicago and looked around.
However, the cat we originally picked out was too skittish, so we decided to look for a dog instead.
We were taken to the dog room. The place was loaded with barking, jumping dogs vying against each other for the attention of a human to take them out of their concrete floored, wire walled confinement cells. I felt bad…I wanted to take them all home.
We walked from cage to cage; row after row, there were so many dogs. We split up and decided to survey on our own to inspect them more quickly.
We were almost ready to leave when I came across a cage with a dog in it that was so quiet. As I stood quietly and watched, she would walk to her bowl, pick up one little piece of food and then walk across the cage to sit down and eat it. This happened repeatedly.
I was curious. I looked at the pink card on the front of her cage– her name was Bailey, she was a two-year-old Lab / Shepard mix. She had been in the shelter for over a year. She also had a terrible gash on her hind leg that was healing.
She noticed me and walked over and put her side up to the wire and looked at me with her deep hazel eyes. She did not utter a sound. She just looked at me.
I was immediately in love.
I looked all over to find a staff worker. Once I did, I asked to see Bailey. She took us to a quiet room and then brought her in. She did not jump, bark, or run around. Lena loudly and excitedly went right toward her, and I went to grab her, but Bailey did not even move. She just sat there and looked at us. She let Lena touch her soft fur. After a few moments, she gave her a lick on her hand.
Without hesitation I said to the staff worker, I was going to adopt Bailey.
We got back to the house after all the paperwork was done, and opened the car door. Bailey jumped out and started to run. I yelled out a loud “Bailey,” and she stopped, turned around and ran right toward me at full speed. Her legs were galloping, her ears back in the wind, her mouth open and tongue flapping. I braced for the inevitable collision, but what happened next really was unexpected. She stopped right at my feet, went into a sit position, looked at me with her big beautiful eyes, and wagged her tail.
I’ve experienced all kinds of temperamental dogs….jumpers, barkers, howlers, snappers, and runners. I had never seen a dog unfamiliar with a person act like this. There was something special about her.
She continued to surprise me over the next few days. When she didn’t run, I let her loose on the side lot to the house. She runs and will use the whole grassy area, but never leaves the unfenced yard. People have even unexpectedly walked by with their dogs, and Bailey would crouch down in the grass and watch them walk by.
For the last three years, she has been my companion. I am on disability and am home every day for most of the day. We go for walks numerous times during the day. I also break the one rule I was never allowed to do as a kid– I give her table scraps. She gets a piece of whatever I am eating…apples, carrots, toast, meat, and even ice-cream.
I was told a dog usually doesn’t make eye contact. It has something to do with being submissive. This was not the case with Bailey. She will look directly in my eyes…sometimes we have staring contests. I often lose because I wind up laughing.
At night, she jumps into the bed with me and snuggles in the crook of my legs. Sometimes, she even puts her head on the pillow next to me. When I read, she is more than happy to hear the story. What is really cool about her is when the mainstream media comes on in the house, she is ready to go for a walk. Smart dog, she knows propaganda…
Bailey has made my life so much better. My depression is easier to deal with, my anxiety attacks have been less often. I would recommend that anyone dealing with any sort of mental or physical issue look into getting a companion from a local shelter. You may find your own Bailey.