42: Who Saved Who?

42: Who Saved Who?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Who Saved Who?

It is astonishing how little one feels alone when one loves.

~John Bulwer

All my life I had wanted a dog. I had two cats that I adored like children, but I still wanted the companionship of a dog. My cats were spoiled, loved, and very protected. But then I lost them . . ..

Not to some tragic death, but to a bitter, ugly breakup. I had left a twenty-four-year relationship. I didn’t take my cats the day I left, and my ex refused to let me have them when I went back for them. He said when I abandoned him, I abandoned them too. I felt I had just lost everything that ever mattered to me.

As time went on, I moved on to a new relationship. With this came major adjustments. I basically had only my clothes and very few personal belongings when I moved into my new boyfriend’s house. He was, and still is, very accommodating. Whatever I needed to feel comfortable and at home, he provided.

But as happy as I was in this new part of my life, I still felt like something was missing, like I had nothing that was truly mine. I voiced these feelings to a friend. I shared with him how I missed my cats. A couple of hours later my new love called and told me to be ready by noon—we were going somewhere.

I had no idea where we were headed, but soon learned it was to a shelter to find a dog. Unfortunately, we didn’t find one that day.

The following Saturday, a nearby pet store teamed up with shelters around the state to hold an adoption day. I was there before it even opened. As the shelters brought in dogs and cats, I looked at and held several puppies. I loved them all of course. Then I met Maggie.

The first time I held the tiny Beagle/whatever mix I fell in love. She looked at me with the saddest eyes I had ever seen, then laid her head on my shoulder and slept. I was hooked!

Maggie adjusted well. I, however, was still adjusting. One night I became very depressed. Thoughts of losing my aunt six months prior, losing my cats, wondering if I made the right decision about leaving my ex, all rushed through my head. I wondered how I was going to enjoy the holidays with a new love when I couldn’t remember a holiday without my ex, who I had spent holidays with since I was fourteen years old. I got overwhelmed with emotion and felt the only solution was to end it. I had a bottle of prescription antidepressants in one hand and my Maggie on my lap.

As embarrassed as I am to admit it, I took the pills. Through my tear-filled eyes I looked down at Maggie to tell her I was sorry.

The look on her face I will never be able to explain. It’s as if her eyes said, “Don’t leave me, I need you just as you needed me.” It was then that I ran to the bathroom to vomit up the pills. The rest of the night I sat on the couch holding Maggie and thanking her for saving me. I realized then that it was her way of saying, “You saved me from the shelter, now I’m here to save you.”

Since that night I have had a love for her that I never knew possible. She never leaves my side when I am at home. She has taught me to smile and laugh when she runs around the yard like a Greyhound. She senses when I am sad and offers a paw on my leg or a “lap cuddle.”

I don’t know what it was I saw in her eyes that night, but I am forever grateful to her for showing me that she loved me and needed me no matter what. Together, I feel Maggie and I can get through anything.

~Melissa Barrett

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