56: Six Pounds of Therapy

56: Six Pounds of Therapy

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

Six Pounds of Therapy

With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It was the most difficult year of my life. My grown daughter had been diagnosed with a rare tumor that would require radiation and chemotherapy, followed by surgery. A beautiful, loving, smart and active young woman, she had a good job and was finally living the life she wanted. But in a flash her life had changed, and so had mine.

I’m the kind of mother who has always felt my children’s pain deeply and I swore I’d always be strong for them when life threw them a curveball and they needed me to be their rock. But the seriousness of my daughter’s affliction shattered my heart and sent me in a downward spiral into depression. It was unfamiliar territory and I struggled against it with everything I had. There was no way I’d let her see what was happening to me; she had enough on her plate. But the black vortex kept sucking me down.

That summer my fourteen-year-old dog and best friend, Allie, came to the end of her journey and I had to make the painful decision of letting her go. She had bladder cancer, but with medication and diapers she hung on for a year. Now she had renal failure too and her tired body was giving up the fight. Allie and I shared laughter, triumphs and tragedies and she was always by my side. She always understood me. Now I had to go on without her and I didn’t know how I was going to do that. Losing her was another major blow. I was consumed with grief and spiraled downward even faster.

By September I’d reached the lowest point of my entire life. It was the first time I felt out of control and I didn’t know what to do. I barely ate, couldn’t sleep and spent hours a day crying. My anxiety level was through the roof and there were times I could barely breathe. I had no choice but to visit my family doctor to see if she could prescribe something that would help lift me out of this darkness.

I’d never been one to take prescription medicine, except antibiotics when I needed them. Heck, I rarely even took over-the-counter medicine! So I was nervous about taking a drug to calm my anxiety, and my stomach was in knots. I put the unopened prescription in my bag and kept trying to get a handle on things without it.

About a week later my sister suggested that I think about rescuing a little dog. She told me I was the kind of woman who needed to nurture. Taking care of a dog in need of a good home might just be the answer for me.

At first I thought the idea of bringing another dog into my life at this time would be nuts. But the more I thought about it the more I realised I really was born to nurture; it made me feel complete. Maybe I would give it a shot.

My sister found two-year-old Ziggy through a local pet network. The ad said he’d been spending most of his days alone and his owner came to the decision the little guy deserved a loving forever home with someone who had time for him.

The moment I laid eyes on little Ziggy, my heart belonged to him.

A six-pound Chihuahua mix with a small bearded face, soft brown eyes and a tiny body with a thick layer of black hair on his back and practically none on his legs and under side, he was completely adorable.

Ziggy came home with me and I quickly discovered he was the best therapy I could have asked for. He taught me to focus on one moment at a time. With every passing day, life got brighter. Before long I was sleeping like a rock, my appetite had picked up and the knot in my stomach was gone.

Ziggy has shown me how to live in the moment. He is a little clown and his antics are hilarious. He’s also a great inspiration and a wonderful little snuggler when I need to hold him or he needs me close. He depends on me and I lean on him and together we make a great team.

My troubles are still there but I’m not looking at things the way I did for the past year. Now I’m able to accept the fact I can’t change what’s happened to my daughter and I can’t fix it. All I can do is love her with all my heart and pray she’s going to be okay.

Of course I still miss my precious Allie, but now I focus on the happy times we shared before she got sick. I know I did everything I could for her and gave her a happy life filled with love.

Little Ziggy is a superhero in my eyes, because I’m a giant compared to him and yet he’s able to carry me with no effort at all. He keeps me smiling. And when I look into those soft brown eyes, I can see the promise of tomorrow and the happiness of today. He is love and loyalty all bundled up in a cute, energetic little body.

P.S. I never did open that prescription bottle.

~Annabel Sheila

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