I have seen first hand and experienced it in my own life. People in recovery have an incredible attachment to there pets. Maybe its because we spend most of our lives only having the ability to care for an animal because people are to complicated. Animals teach us about unconditional love. Unconditional forgiveness. Living in the moment is something they do best. They have a relentless ability to be joyful. I have sat in meetings and cried listening to stories. Today I have one of my own.
I was 16 and the people’s dog down the road had puppies. My brother and I took one. We named her Roxy. I was at the end of my drinking. I spent a lot of time angry and alone. I would come home at night to find her on the back porch. I can not tell you how many nights I spent being kept warm from her, more then I care to imagine.
In February of 2001 I went to treatment. Not really having a relationship with anyone but her naturally she was the only one I cared about. I was very alone. She was the first emotional connection I had that I was truly invested in. In therapy they talk about the importance of closure. Goodbye letters are popular and helpful. Here is mine:
You are the best and sweetest soul I know. I know that because to put up with someone like me at the beginning of your life, you had to be. You were faithful and made it easy to be your owner. You were the first dog I had that I got to make right all my mistakes with animals growing up.
There was never a doubt in my mind that at night when I would stumble in the door you were not going to be there. You slept on my pillow like a person and was a pain in the ass because there was never enough room for me. You kept me company at the end of my drinking. A risky thing to do being how belligerent I was at the time. At a time when I was alone not knowing whether I would wake up or not or could carry on any more and I believe you were the angel sent to add some kind of hope for me at the end.
I went to treatment and all I cared about was how my dog was. Not my parents who just put there only daughter in treatment 30 miles away. Or my friends who didn’t really know what to do with me either. But you were the only thing that I knew what to do with.
After getting sober you were the one that showed me how to give grace. How to push into someone when all they want to do is curled up in a ball and hide from the world you would come to my side, lay on my feet, flip your head backwards and just look at me. And you did that over and over day after day until I finally would start to live in the world again. Patience, tolerance, forgiveness. The things I never knew I wanted you gave with out speaking a word.
At the end of your life I’m not surprised that you made it abundantly clear it was time. You job on earth was done. I choose to believe that you are in heaven today with you pal Nike (a miniature Docksin we used to have) chasing balls, fighting over who gets the bigger bed but finally peaceful and at rest.
Goodbye old friend. Thank you for the time we did share. you helped this drunk find her way back to humanity again in only the way a dog could.