Day 4 With Dora

“I think we’re going to keep her.” This is my commitment level right now. I should probably explain a bit of the background for context.

  1. My husband and I discussed my current worst case issues (hiding from ringing phones, drawing all the curtains and hiding from potential people outside, disassociation, etc.) and we started researching the possibility of emotional support animals and psychiatric disability dogs. We found a nearby service dog trainer and followed their advice regarding preferred breeds, desired temperaments, and communicating with rescues/breeders/etc.
  2. We talked to the physician who has been treating my depression for several years. My husband and I discussed current issues, perceived benefits, concerns regarding medication shuffling (again), and the applicability of counseling at this point. She decided that an emotional support dog is a good option for us at this time.
  3. Legal, medical, and housing paperwork.
  4. We found several promising candidates and contacted their handlers for information about them and whether or not they might be suited for this type of life.
  5. We were approved for Dora, visited her, were impressed with her demeanor and behavior, and brought her home for evaluation.

So, at this point, she both is and isn’t mine. I mean, we paid for her- I signed the check. We have her vet records, her rabies tag, everything. If I do nothing, she will be mine, and the evaluation period will expire. But she still doesn’t feel like she’s mine, since it isn’t permanent. 

But I’m the one causing the impermanence. And I know it. But it happens anyway. 😑 

I have even said that we should get her dog license and schedule her first vet visit this week. And I’ve found a place that provides two levels of obedience training and carries on clear through Canine Good Citizen testing. (The American Kennel Club uses the CGC and STAR Puppy behavioral standards to certify dogs’ polite behavior in public. It’s the foundation on which more specific training would rest.)

We bought her a harness (we waited until we had a dog to do so). We introduced her to my family. We have done many things that indicate that she’s staying with us.

But I can’t bring myself to say “I am keeping Dora. She is my dog.”

Yesterday (I think), I said “my dog” when referring to her and it knocked me off balance. My husband doesn’t understand why, although he is trying to, but it was such a surreal moment. I checked my systems:

  • Mind says “………”
  • Defense mechanisms say “Don’t get attached! Too soon! You’ll regret it later! Stay back! Let go! Just a dog! Not your dog! Probably be taken away at any moment! (etc.)”
  • Emotions (buried somewhere in my subconscious) say “This is my dog. I like her. She makes me laugh and I feel less alone. I love having a dog. I have a dog. Dora is my dog.”

So with all that going on and my brain staunchly refusing to comment, I just feel numb and shocked, surprised and lost. What did I just say? Why would I say that? I never made that choice! What is going on?!

  • Mind says “…….”

😑 Thank you, overstimulated and overdefended mind. I know you’re trying, but I’m still not getting any results here.

I guess… I think she can do the job. She’s responsive and attentive. She has bonded well to us, particularly me. She already showed a flash of emotional attentiveness, which would be needed for my overload-related tasks. She is calm while I am scared of everything. She is happy while I am hopeless. I think that she has a lot of potential for this job and I…

(Oh crap. What is this?!) 

I want her to do this job. I want Dora to be my emotional support dog and to train with me and to be my psychiatric disability dog. I want Dora to be in my life for the next decade and to help me learn how to trust and to live and to relax and to breathe and to take risks and to thrive. That is what I want.

Well, I’m crying now, even though I feel numb. I think I’m just a bit overwhelmed by all of my systems spontaneously functioning properly and providing me with real feedback. It’s pretty rare. I think I’m done writing for now.


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