I have a girlfriend who has recently been through some stuff. Not just your average, everybody has stuff to deal with, stuff but the kind of stuff that makes you go "whoa, how is she managing all of that stuff" stuff? After several trips to the doctor, a therapist and a few prescribed medications, her doctor recommended she get a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal (ESA) to help her cope with her extremely high stress levels and anxiety issues. At first she thought that service animals were for the blind or handicapped but after doing some research, she discovered that these types of service dogs really could help her through this difficult journey.
It's an average Tuesday, I'm visiting with her, sitting comfortably cross legged in a chair, when I get to meet Gracie, her ESA dog. She's a purebred soft, dapple gray Weimaraner with pale blue eyes. Gracie looks like she could star in a gourmet dog food commercial. Her expressive sad eyes beckon you to tell her all about your worries and her soft coat is like petting crushed velvet. I have to admit that even though I'm a huge dog lover anyway, there's something intimate - personal - comforting - about Gracie.
We are chatting and laughing and talking like girlfriends do and every time my friend has the slightest bit of emotion, just a hint of waiver in her voice, Gracie is beside her. She nudges her with her nose, paws at her with her right front foot, climbs beside her on the sofa and presses her gray body against my friend. It was so beautiful to watch. The comfort and companionship of this dog. This animal trained to recognize the slightest level of stress or discomfort, but intuitively knowing how to love unconditionally like only dogs can. Gracie was magic and I loved watching her interact with my sweet friend.
Now here comes the really weird part. The part where I convince you the reader that what I saw was real and what these dogs are trained to do is exceptional and sometimes beyond reason.
My friend and I had been talking for awhile and she was relaxed. Gracie was curled up next to her, sound asleep. Occasionally, heavy eyelids would open and shut over her expressive blue eyes.
My girlfriend asks me, "So how are you doing?"
I reply cheerfully, "Good. Actually. Really good these days."
My friend says, "I saw you posted on Facebook about your Dad. How long has it been now?"
"Um, 2 years, no 2 1/2. I miss him but at least I can talk about him without losing it."
Gracie's eyes opened wide and stared at me like she's heard a bell. I smile at her, and keep going.
"It's nice not crying over every little thing. Like the other day, my daughter tells me that she saw a butterfly and it made her think of him. I didn't even puddle. Not a drop. So I'm doing a lot better."
Gracie moved off the sofa and tilted her head like she had heard something in the distance. She trotted over to my chair and put her right paw on my knee. I looked at my friend with a quizzical smile and said, "Isn't she the sweetest thing? It's like she knew I was talking about my..." I choked and trailed off my words and broke down into sobs. My body hunched over and my breathing turned ragged almost instantly. My girlfriend grabbed some tissues and smiled at me knowingly. "Someone's been bottling up some emotions about her Dad. Gracie knows. It's so weird when she does that but really awesome too, right?"
Gracie stood on her back legs and placed both of her front paws on my lap. She nuzzled my hands which were busy wiping off tears and makeup. "Just remarkable. She's remarkable. How in the world? My voice didn't change at all when I was talking about my Dad."
"I don't know. She just knows when you are stressed about something and not quite dealing with it. She's been amazing for me, but I've never seen her do it to someone else. You must have really needed some compassion."
I guess I did. Don't we all?
Seeds to Share:
Matthew 5:9 - Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Galatians 6:2 - Bear one another's burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ.