My Emotional Support Dog Jackson
I never knew the power of dogs. I was never fortunate to have one throughout my entire childhood, so I never had any type of bonding experience with one. If we rewind to two years ago, I was seeing my therapist for my depression and anxiety. I was at a very down point when she had suggested the possibility of writing a letter for me recommending an emotional support dog and stating why she believed I would need one. The letter wasn't for me to give to a shelter upon applying to adopt a dog; it was more for my apartment complex letting them know that I was getting a dog and that they couldn't discriminate.
A lot of people get emotional support animals mixed with service animals. Service animals go through very difficult training and usually can be seen with vests stating that they are service animals. An emotional support animal has no special training but is there as a therapeutic companion. A lot of people with anxiety find it comforting to pet an animal because it's soothing and calming. My reason for wanting to adopt a dog was because I felt incredibly lonely inside all of the time. I felt a dog could make me feel happy and cared for when my husband was working.
Shortly after receiving the letter that my therapist wrote for me, my husband and I seriously talked about it and decided to go look into some shelters and see what dogs were currently up for adoption. I wanted to rescue a dog because the dog would essentially be rescuing me, and I wanted to give the same love and compassion back. I had no specifics of a type of dog that I was looking for. I only cared about it being on the smaller side because of our small apartment.
We met Jackson, a poodle mix, and learned of his very sad story. He was found on the streets of Oklahoma and taken to a kill shelter. Thanks to S.A.V.E. in Skillman, New Jersey, they took him all the way from Oklahoma and brought him here to New Jersey. I know kill shelters exist, but when you meet the dogs, you wonder how anyone could do that to these innocent, beautiful creatures. Jackson had never had a home before. He went directly from the street to the shelter and then into our home a few days after meeting him. He had never experienced love before. We later came to find out that he was at the shelter for two weeks, and no one had turned in an application except us.
I was so nervous in the beginning. To me, it was synonymous with caring for a child. I didn't have the experience and was worried I'd do something wrong. With lots of reassurance from my family that everything would be fine and I'd be a great dog mom, I found myself alone with Jackson while my husband reported to work. He was only one year's old when we got him, and he had the energy of a puppy. You could tell how happy he was to be around people, anyone that would give him some attention and love.
It's weird to think about life before him....just me and husband together. Jackson has become so ingrained in our lives and is just like a child to us. While we can say that we gave Jackson a second chance at life, he truly is what gave us a new life and made our world a little brighter. I never have feelings of things happening for a reason. I actually dislike that phrase so much, but in a way, I think we were meant to find one another.
While Jackson never really received training, he is a wonderful dog. I now understand why people are so attached to their animals. Animals are completely in tune to our feelings. They know when we are happy and definitely sense when we in pain or hurting. I have found him not leaving my side for hours on days where it's too painful to get up. He stays right there because he knows that I need him. He has found me sobbing, during some of my lowest points, and he has licked the tears straight from my face. He only leaves the bed in the morning when I have fully gotten up and am ready to begin my day. If my husband leaves the bed but I am still in there, Jackson will stay with me.
He is motivated when he finds me happy. He knows that if I am walking him, he should go at a slower pace than when he goes for walks with my husband. He has these eyes that everyone notices because they are very human like; they stare at you, brown mixed with shades of golden color. I only hope that I make him as happy as he has made me. Don't get me wrong....I am still a depressed mess each and every single day, but just waking up to him waiting for his morning belly rub puts a slight amount of joy into me.
If there is anyone out there who suffers from chronic illness in any way, shape, or form, please take it from me that it's one of the best decisions that I've ever made. If you find yourself thinking really terrible things and feeling like you are worthless, please know that a dog or any other animal can help you.
I recommend for all who have Netflix to watch the series "Dogs". Each episode focuses on dogs in a different way. I have gotten through all of them yet, but one episode specifically sheds light on service dogs and tells the story of a girl who has epilepsy and will soon be meeting her dog for the first time. I'm not someone who gets emotional when it comes to tv shows and movies, but I was absolutely sobbing at the end of the episode. I related to it on many levels. For the second time, let me say that animals are amazing, intelligent creatures that can pick up on so many things.
Of course there is a big difference between the dogs in the show versus my emotional support dog. Those dogs featured have been trained for months to detect illnesses and provide support to children who have a difficult time walking. Jackson, however, has no training, but he has learned over time my personality and my husband's and has learned to pinpoint what our emotional health is and comforts us with extreme cuddles.
We are absolutely in love with our dog....and I think he feels the same about us.
I started an instagram page for Jackson if anyone would like to keep up with his adorable underbite and follow his silly life. You can find him here: @jackson_the_rescue_pup
We'd love to befriend you and meet any of your animal companions.