Pets and PTSD

Guest post by: Alyssa Alig

There is one friend that has always there for me.  You could even use the term of endearment, “best friend.”  I am a PTSD survivor of domestic abuse of almost 20 years, mostly healed now after very intensePTSD, Survivors Speak, Pets personal work, and wanted to share a story of hope.

The hardest time of the year for me, by far, is the holidays.  Feeling very lonely with my Christmas tree and my hot chocolate, I began to peruse the local shelter ads.  The puppies were so fluffy and adorable, and playful.  That is just what I needed in my life.  Everything was so stressful-life, difficult relationships, money.  I needed more play time.

I went into the shelter on Christmas Eve and saw the puppy I had been drooling over for days.  She was just as cute as ever!  She came home with me that day.  I watched as my $100 shelter dog hopped, chewed, and peed on anything she could reach.

Elly became a wonderful companion, after a few months of training.  On the mornings I was so depressed I couldn’t bare to open my eyes and face another day, she would lick my face insisting that I take care of her.  When I was crying my eyes out, she didn’t care that I hadn’t showered that day.  She would sit with me and comfort me and lick my tears off my face (probably because she liked the salty taste).  When I was having a horrible panic attack,  I could hug her until it was over.  She is alert for me and protective, so I do not have to be.  Best of all, I can tell her anything.  Anything.

She won’t judge me or think I’m crazy.  She won’t think I’m lying or tell me some contrite feel-better-fast line.  She just listens and is affectionate.  Especially during times of trauma or healing when I was isolated and had difficulty relating to anyone else.

Dogs are available from many organizations, like guide dogs for the blind.  Most often, these dogs are also rehabilitated from bad homes.  What a unique friendship to share!  They are trained to recognize panic attacks and sit with you or nudge you and wait until you come back to reality.  There are new laws, allowing them to travel everywhere with you.  They also aid in protection-having much keener senses than we do.  I unfortunately developed a hyperawareness from my trauma.  But my dog always senses a person before I do; I have never met anyone else that can do that faster than I can.

Every single day, she is just plain happy to see me.  When I thought no one could love me, her unconditional love meant the world to me.  And all she asked for in return was some tasty food and a warm bed.  You might want to take a chance and visit your local shelter sometime soon.  You just might find your own best friend waiting there for you to help guide you on your healing journey.

The ideas contained in this post solely represent the perspective of the author. To contribute to ‘Survivors Speak’ contact Michele.


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