The Mighty Logo

What My Dog Taught Me About Overcoming Anxiety

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Three years ago, I decided I was ready to get a dog. I prepared for months, researched and finally put a deposit down on my new furry family member. She came home with me at two and a half months old.

When I brought her home, she was terrified. Her little body was shaking, and she stayed in her travel crate for hours, scared to explore her new home.

As days and weeks went by, she slowly began to warm up to her surroundings. We became best friends; she went everywhere with me. But she didn’t warm up to my husband; in fact, it took her over a year to not run and hide whenever he was around.

I didn’t know anything about her past, but ultimately, her past didn’t matter. What mattered was her present and how we chose to deal with her fears hour by hour.

It was during this same time I was dealing with a new mental health diagnosis and working through medication changes. At the time, it was stressful dealing with a puppy and my own mental health.

photo of woman sitting on the grass with a white furry dog

When she was six months old, she ran from our home and was hit by a car. Luckily, we were right behind her when it happened. My husband (who she was still scared of) scooped her up and we brought her to the vet.

Her injuries weren’t serious; a broken leg that would require four to six months of healing. It was a difficult time for all of us. She required special care and supervision 24/7.

We made it through all of this together; and today, she is an amazing, adventurous and courageous dog full of love and excitement for everything she encounters.

The last three years together have been incredible. We have grown together but I still have a long way to go. I watch her and admire her resilience and her ability to move forward past her trauma.

Dogs have such simple minds, allowing them to sort through the clutter much easier than we can. I sometimes envy her healing and overcoming her anxieties so quickly. But then I remember, time passes differently for dogs. What appears as a few years to us, may seem like a few decades to them.

Maybe when I have lived through a few more decades, I will experience the type of healing she has. And when that day comes, she probably won’t be around anymore but everything she taught me will live on with me forever.

And on the hardest days, I will look back on my memory of her and her resilience and find strength.

For more on how dogs help with mental health, check out this article from another Mighty contributor.

Image via contributor

Originally published: October 28, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home