A Dog as an Antidote to Depression

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Hello, Brigitte!

This is the first time I’m writing to you. I’ve been enjoying your mails and I feel that it’s good time to write because in your latest mail you wanted to know about how my dog has changed my life.

I am motivated to share my story because I feel that I am one of those who has been blessed with such a wonderful being. I said “being” for the fact that dogs actually have so much personality; it’s something I’ve never realized before!

Well, my husband and I first decided to get a dog after I was diagnosed with major depression. I have always loved dogs – puppies in particular, but had never seriously thought of getting one. During our research, we read that pets can help people with depression. Since I am alone at home sometimes (all my family members and relatives are in another country; my mom comes and goes), he felt a dog could keep me company when I felt lonely.

dogs and depressionWe then got a puppy as I’ve always wanted – it’s a white Toy Poodle, 10 weeks old then. We call him Dee. Truth be told, it took me some weeks to get adjusted to looking after and training a puppy everything from scratch. It did get annoying initially, especially with his endless pee and poo as a puppy, and the times he felt sick. Even now that he’s 10 months old, it still takes certain amount of time feeding him (he gets fussy sometimes), training him, playing and spending time with him every day (particularly when you’re sick or when you feel that you just want to be alone but he’s in a cuddly mood), the weekly bathing and grooming, the daily brushing, etc… It is, like you said, a responsibility.

But the one thing that I can never deny, is how he always makes us laugh, or smile at the very least. And that’s so important to me to keep my mood elevated and to keep me from feeling depressed all the time. There are always things to laugh about when he’s around – the way he runs like rabbit, the way he jumps like a lamb, the way his both hind legs rise when he suddenly stops while running at high speed, the way he sleeps, the way he curls up, the way he yawns, the funny noises he makes… everything!! Everything about him is just so cute and it brings excitement to my life. He never fails to put a smile on my face, even on my worst days, he somehow can still make me smile one way or another.

And I haven’t even talked about how loyal he is. He literally follows me E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E I go. That way even when my husband’s at work and my mom’s not here with me, I’m never alone. He’s ALWAYS THERE wherever I am. If I’m taking a shower or brushing my teeth, he’ll wait for me right outside the bathroom door. When I come out, he’ll go into the room with me and wait while I change. Tell me who would do that for me?? He sleeps on or under the bed at night, and every time I go out to the kitchen to have a glass of water, he’ll come out with me, wait till I’m done, and go back into the bedroom with me. And I’ve never seen anyone that’s more excited than him E-V-E-R-Y-T-I-M-E I come home! All that tail-wagging and jumping around… while my husband’s stuck to his couch and TV!

He has definitely changed my life in the sense that I find a new perspective to look at life. I had never thought that a pet can bring you so much joy. He helps keep my mood up because I’m “forced” to smile and laugh everyday at the silly, mischievous things he does. He forces me to exercise when playing with him and walking him. And exercise is so important for a depressed person.

It’s so touching to find him greeting me every morning with his licks and jumps (and a belly-rub afterwards). Sometimes I feel it’s so ironic that a dog teaches us humans the true meaning of companionship and loyalty. And it’s equally ironic that the one most loyal to you is your dog…(by no means undermining my lovely family and friends).

Having him has certainly touched a part of me I never knew existed and has definitely helped me on the road of recovery from depression. There’s never a single day I regret my decision on getting a dog. Whatever time, energy or finances I have to sacrifice, I feel it’s well worth it in return for the smiles and the laughs, the joy and the excitement he brings to the house each day.

A dog IS indeed a man’s best friend.

Regards,

Christaline Watson,
Penang, Malaysia

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