It’s no secret I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety and Panic Disorders and PTSD. Over the last few months I’ve become more open about my struggles in an attempt to help not only myself, but others who are suffering like me. I’m working with a great team of doctors and taking several medications, but most days these things just aren’t enough. I still find myself exhausted from the moment I wake up until the time I climb back into bed. It takes me hours to fall asleep and then I never sleep through the night. It has been a never ending cycle that I have been trying hard to break free from.
For a while now, I’ve thought that getting a puppy/dog that could eventually be a service dog for me would be the answer to a lot of my problems. My husband and I went back and forth on it and for a long time the decision was that it wasn’t the right time for us. We have busy lives; we both work full time, attend soccer matches almost every weekend from March through November, regularly get together with friends in places outside of our home. The list goes on and on. So adding a dog to the mix, especially a puppy who needs training, was just not an option. I was relentless. Nearly every day I would share a puppy post or send him an add from Craigslist. I pushed and pushed and pushed to a point we were both miserable. I know that my obsession over this was stressing him out beyond belief.
Last week I saw a post on Facebook from a local service dog organization who, for one reason or another, was selling some of the puppies from a recent litter. It was the perfect English Cream Golden Retriever. The one I had been picturing in my head the whole time. I thought ‘This is it! This is the dog we’ve been waiting for!’ I convinced my husband to make the call and see at least how much they were charging for the puppies. He conceded under one condition; if this didn’t work out I needed to stop pushing. I agreed, reluctantly. He made the call and was told that the CEO of the organization would call him back. In my mind, that meant in a few minutes. I was wrong.
The next morning when my husband took the kids to school I did something I rarely do, I hit my knees and I prayed. I asked God to help me. I asked that this puppy workout and not cost more than we could afford. I asked that He make this work so that I could finally start recovering because I knew (in my ultimate wisdom) that this was what I needed. Before I finished praying I added one final part; I said that I would leave it up to Him to decide what was the right path for me. That I would accept where He lead me. I got up, finished getting ready for work and went on about my day as usual. Waiting for my husband to call with good news.
It took more than 24 hours (a long time, I know….) before he received the call back. I had just began cooking dinner when his phone rang. I ran to our bedroom and sat on the floor staring up at him trying to interpret his facial expressions on a call I couldn’t hear the other side of. When the call ended he told me they wanted $1,600 for the puppy. I felt my heart sink. That was more than we could afford. I sat there for a few minutes and cried. My husband told me if it was really what I needed, he would do it. I got up and walked out of the room. I finished making dinner, dried up my tears and had dinner with my family. The discussion at least for that time had ended. Once diner was over and the kitchen cleaned up we started the discussion again. I put on my logical, non-depression fueled hat, and told him we would not be getting that puppy. It was too much money and it would be selfish of me to spend that when there are other things our family needed. My husband said ok. Discussion over.
Thirty minutes later my husband sent me a text from a friend of ours that he had received earlier in the day asking him to consider getting me a puppy to help me find a sense of purpose. It was a completely sincere message from a friend who cares deeply for our family. I looked at my husband and tried not to cry. At that moment he said if we could find a puppy that was within our budget and if I would concede to the puppy being a Golden Doodle (to cut down on a little shedding) that he would let me get a puppy. I agreed but had my own conditions; the puppy had to be a girl, more golden that doodle and as close to white as possible. A deal was struck.
My husband and our friend spent that evening and the whole next morning scouring the internet for the perfect puppy. I would get a text here, a picture there. I would say yes or no depending on the pup. Finally the friend sent me a picture of the most adorable puppy I had seen. It checked all the boxes, my husband had seen it and agreed if I liked her. Our friend had already made contact with the breeder and negotiated a price that was acceptable. He was a very reputable breeder and this was the last puppy from the litter. I texted the friend back ‘I’LL TAKE HER!!’. It was about noon and I was leaving work in an hour to pick up the kids from school. I spoke to my boss and he agreed to let me take the afternoon off to go get my new baby.
I picked up the kids and took them to Petco to pick up a few things and that is how I surprised them with the news. They were thrilled. We bought the basics: collar, leash, treats and toys. We left the store and set off on the two and a half hour drive across the state to get our new family member.
From the first moment I met the puppy, I felt the weight lift from my chest. She was perfect. Both of her parents were on site and they had perfect temperaments and she did too. It was meant to be. The breeder and I handled all the paperwork and soon Molly was in the car and on the way home with us. That night we all played with her and let her explore her new home. She slept almost all the way through the night and didn’t have any accidents in her crate. She really was perfect.
The next morning waking up early and taking her out to go to the bathroom, for the first time that I could remember I wasn’t exhausted. I was completely and purely happy. There was no looming sense of doom, no crushing weight on my chest. Just smiles and a heart filled with unexplainable joy. My husband was off work that first day with her and I set off to work with no anxiety or panic at all. I made it through the entire day without a single moment of depression.
Later that morning I received a text from someone at my church. He said that he and Fr. John had been speaking about me and wanted to check in and see how I had been doing. My heart stopped. He had never once since meeting him, texted me to check in on me. Of all days, he reached out the first morning I felt happy, two days after I had prayed to God and left it all in his hands. I texted back how I had been doing and the story of our new puppy. Fr. John was thrilled to hear of the blessing that had been given to me and said that recently, Pope Francis had ‘renewed our need for animal companionship’. It was that moment I realized, God had answered my prayers. It wasn’t the way I had expected. It wasn’t the puppy I saw and begged my husband to call on. But it was the puppy that is the perfect fit for our family. It was the path He chose for me. I have never doubted my faith, but that day it was strengthened more than ever knowing my prayer had been answered so loudly.
It’s been nearly a week since we brought home our Molly Doodle and I haven’t had a single depressed moment. I’ve had early mornings, late nights, constant potty training failures and all the puppy hugs and kisses I can take. So far, Molly has saved me from my depression and I can never thank her enough. I know my battle is far from over, but knowing that Molly is at home waiting for me makes every day a little bit easier.