My dog’s name is Jackson. He was adopted by me and my fiancé in March of this year. It was a coincidence meeting him. My fiancé, Matt, knew that I was struggling, perhaps at my lowest point ever. My therapist had recently suggested that adopting an animal might be beneficial for me in helping with my depression and anxiety.
One Saturday morning, I awoke to him saying that we should go visit an animal shelter just to see what they had. Yes, we had been talking about how great it would be to get a dog, but we weren’t in the mindset that we HAD to get one. We skimmed the dogs in their crates; we told the trainer there that we were looking for a hypoallergenic dog and also one that would be a great companion and lap dog as I explained my situation.
To our surprise, they had a poodle mix there that very day. If you have ever looked on petfinder or at the available dogs in different shelters, you will see that there are lots of Pits, chihuahuas, and larger mixed breeds. It is rare to come across what you are actually looking for. We were told that we could go in a private room with him just to see how he would react with us. Upon meeting him, I was greeted with a lick on my nose. He was friendly, and he didn’t bark once.
When we asked for some information on his background, we weren’t expecting to hear what we did. It turns out that Jackson was a stray dog in Oklahoma; he was put in a kill shelter there until this shelter in New Jersey saved him and transferred him up here. He had been at the shelter for two weeks, and not one application was filled out to adopt him.
We were filling out a general application just to say we were interested in a dog, but after hearing that this dog really never had a “home” nor anyone to love him, we filled in his name where it asked what dog we were interested in. We figured the process would be hard. We weren’t expecting to hear anything as we saw other people that day show interest in him. I promised Matt that I would not get attached to any of the animals that day, and we walked out thinking that we’d have to keep looking and putting in more applications at other shelters.
We drove home discussing the realities of a dog. They are expensive vet wise, grooming wise, food wise, pill wise, and so on. Plus, we were used to our freedom of being able to go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. I knew all of this was the truth, and I was completely accepting of that. I knew not to get my hopes up and that it was a distant dream for me.
Three days later, we got the call. The woman from the shelter asked if we were still interested in possibly adopting Jackson. I left the conversation up to Matt. He is, after all, the only one in our house working. I knew he might say no, and to be honest, I was a bit nervous to actually take care of something else besides myself. I had never had the gift of having an animal my entire life.
At age 30, and just three days after filling out the adoption application, I got my wish. Without hesitation, Matt had told the woman on the phone that we were definitely still interested and wanted him. He hung up with her, looked at me, and said he was buying it for me. I felt a wave of emotion come over me because I felt like it was so right.
It’s so weird how sometimes you end up being just where you need to be. If we hadn’t gone to that shelter on that day, we may have missed the opportunity. If I had to describe what our connection is like, all I can come up with is a pure, loving companionship. I know that he has had a really rough past. His actions are that of anxiety and fear, and each time we leave our apartment, he thinks that we are never coming back. Each time we come home, we are greeted as if we had been gone for months. It is heartbreaking yet perfect at the same time.
You always hear stories that animals have these senses where they know when you are upset, and I can attest to that fully. Jackson actually licks the tears off of my face. He is a very active dog, but when I am couch bound, he stays by my side and sleeps with me all day. I believe we saved each other. I think the trainer at the shelter saw that he could really be there for me as an emotional support animal, and she knew that I could ease his worries just by being around all of the time. It’s rare for an animal to be with a family in which someone is home constantly. For me, that is my life.
He is only one and half years old, and his personality is that of a legitimate child. He takes my mind off of the hundreds of thoughts going through my head. He depends on me and needs me, and seeks my love just as much as I do his. He has brought me and Matt closer; we feel like we have a family now.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I am so thankful and grateful that we adopted this dog, regardless of all of our financial worries and our losing out on past freedom. It is calming just to be able to pet Jackson when my emotions are in full effect. He fills the void of Matt not being here when he is working.