Maybe it is no surprise to you, but some of my greatest supporters in recovery have four legs and a tail. My horses and my puppies could comfort me in ways that no person could ever do. I have always had an extreme difficulty expressing myself to others, let alone understanding my thoughts myself, but I never had to with them. Just holding them or hugging them made everything calm and okay. It is hard to describe this connection until a piece is missing. I woke up this morning with a heavy heart. After a week long ordeal with vets and emergency visits, it was discovered that my miniature dachshund, Sawyer, had a large tumor on his heart. It was compressing his trachea, liver, and lungs and it just grew quick enough to make him slid downhill in a matter of days. As I held him in my arms and his suffering came to an end, mine began. He has been my whole world for the past nine years. He always burrowed under the covers and slept with me every night.
I got him as a 6 week old puppy on a trip to visit family in Oklahoma. He was part of an April Fool’s joke which was really no joke at all. “Wait, you really brought home a dog?!” This was my stepfather’s reply when we pulled into the driveway. He had played a rather mean joke on me earlier so he thought I was just messing with him when I told him I was bringing home a puppy. Just like me though, he fell in love with him instantly.
I got him when I was 16. For a little more background, ages 16-18 were the most difficult for me. I had really just began my recovery journey, but my life still revolved around eating disorder and self-harm behaviors. Sawyer (yes he was named after the super fine LOST character) became a new coping mechanism for me. Many nights I would hold him tight, fighting urges, and crying all over his fur coat. Poor guy! But he would always lick my tears away and keep me motivated to keep trying. He was the first dog that was truly my own and he even switched houses with me every couple weeks as my parents had been divorced since I was young and that is how I grew up. He loved toy ducks, loved camping, loved eating, and loved sleeping.
I have nine years of wonderful memories and photos to hang on to, but the sting right now is so real. I do have two beautiful and healthy dogs at home to continue to hold and rely on. It breaks my heart to see my other love Nessie pace the house looking for him. She loved him so much and always got on his level to play with him. Just this past Sunday we were all playing in the yard roughhousing together. It was perfect. This is one of those moments I am grateful that I am practicing mindfulness because being fully present in that moment allows me the pleasure of remembering it in great detail and makes me smile.
Sawyer made me take responsibility for my recovery. He made me get up every day to take care of him, even on the days that I didn’t want to move. I am very thankful I am in a strong place of recovery today. Even though he is physically gone, he continues to motivate me. I feel very low, but I still need to stay busy, follow my meal plan, reach out for support, write, paint, color, etc. Self-care. His loss is not a reason to relapse. I need to celebrate his life and continue to move forward. It is also important that I let myself feel. Feel the sadness and grief and not stuff it away to haunt me.
I will miss you weenie. Thanks for all the amazing memories, I love you with all my heart. I hope everyone can have a deep connections to their animals, especially if you are healing and need some unconditional comfort. Take time to hug your fur children for me today because life is so fragile and precious.