28: The Gift of a Caring Companion

28: The Gift of a Caring Companion

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

The Gift of a Caring Companion

Fun fact: Studies have shown that the unconditional love of a dog can help people feel less depressed.

Back in high school, I had a hard time fitting in and felt really lonely. It was getting harder and harder to hold back my tears every day when I came home from school. I didn’t know if the tears were of relief that the day was done, or of sadness that I had to get up and go back to a place full of bullies and people who didn’t like me.

One day, I came home in tears and ran upstairs to my bedroom. I couldn’t stop crying. I sat on my floor and started ripping pages from my diary. I can’t believe I liked him, I thought. I had liked this boy for a long time and had actually been feeling pretty happy lately, but that day he had said he could never like someone like me. I was crushed.

I finished ripping the pages out of my diary and continued sobbing when I felt something brush against my leg. I looked up and saw Myla staring at me with a tilted head and a wagging tail. I scrunched up my face and began crying hysterically. Myla’s tail stopped. She backed away a little bit and tilted her head to the other side. Her eyes grew wide. Then she started whimpering.

I curled my legs up to my stomach and hugged them with my arms. Myla nudged her head between my legs, put her paws up on my chest and sniffed my face. She had never done this before! She was a pretty placid dog who usually sat on the couch and unenthusiastically watched the cars go by. I knew she cared about me but I was shocked when she put her paws on me, sniffed my face, and licked my tears away. It was as if she was replacing a caring parent at that moment.

I patted her head, and her tail started wagging again. I laughed at her funny little tail trying to wag as fast as it could. She then started chasing it, and as I watched her, I forgot what I was so sad about. I took a moment to catch my breath and lifted myself up off the floor. Myla followed me to the bathroom where I washed my tear-stained face. I flicked some water at her, and she sneezed. Her tail never stopped wagging.

Myla followed me around the house until late into the evening. Every time I would sniff or make a sound, she would cock her head and look at me like a worried mother, as if to confirm that I was okay.

That night, as I crawled into bed, exhausted from the day’s events, I realized how thankful I was for Myla. I had gotten her for Christmas the year before just as I had entered high school. I went through many emotional ups and downs throughout high school — as most people do — and came home to my favourite little pooch who would follow me up to my room and insist on comforting me the only way she knew how: with doggy kisses and tail wags.

Myla comforted me with her puppy compassion until someone else needed her. Two years after I started university, my mom told me her friend was lonely after being widowed. It broke my heart. I knew that Myla would be a perfect addition to her household, with her easygoing nature and huggable coat of fur.

It was really hard to give Myla away, but I will never forget the look on that lady’s face when I gave her a new companion. Her big smile and happy tears made me feel like I did the right thing.

After caring for me for so long, it was time for Myla to care for a widow who just needed someone to talk to and feed. I think I gave the best gift one could ever give. From an emotional high-school life to a widow’s bedside, Myla served her purpose as a caring and friendly presence in times of need. My darling Myla proved to me that dogs make not only the best pets, but also some of the best friends, teachers, and caregivers we’ll ever know.

~Sarah Wun

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