Every morning I walk down the stairs, open the kitchen door and, before I have time to click the kettle on, my dog runs up to me with a look of joy wagging his tail. Some mornings if I am not prepared for my morning greeting, I can nearly be knocked back on to my heels.
You are probably wondering why I am writing a blog about my dog: what impact he has on me and my PTSD: but he does in ways that people cannot imagine.
I have had him since he was a puppy. I remember collecting him to bring him home for the first time. I felt a sense of responsibility for him. He was no bigger than the width of my legs. He was wrapped in old Disney blanket and fell fast asleep on my lap until we approached a roundabout. We got him home and placed him on the kitchen floor and were overjoyed with our new member of the family.
At that time I had not disclosed anything about the attacks. My dog was a distraction…in a good way; something to take my mind off the troubles in my head. When I stopped eating (it was during the Beijing Olympics) he just stayed with me on floor for hours, just knowing I wasn’t doing well. When I had my first flashback he didn’t understand what was going on. But soon we both realized that we could help each other: me stroking his ears to ground myself and then me reassuring him I was ok. Since that moment he has been my constant support. He sense when I am feeling anxious by placing his head on my lap: hearing me when I am having a flashback and knowing to wait and then come over and sit with me.
For me and my family I think he has kept us all sane: but having to walk him every day; to get out of the house and to see the beauty around us. It would be so easy to sit and stay in the house but all he wants is a walk and in return he gives us his undying love.
I manage to stay safe in the house because I know he is there and he won’t let anyone hurt me. I can’t image a morning when I don’t hear the sound of his paws on the kitchen floor. I never realized that animals can heal but they can. My dog has and still is playing a role in my recovery and keeping well.