Dealing with PTSD with a Dog's Help

When I was given the honor of writing a blog post for RideQuickie, I was initially going to discuss the special bond that people have with their dogs. My six-year-old Golden Retriever, Sadie, is a hugely important part of my life, so of course I want to say everything I can about my love for her. I had a draft almost ready to submit when the horrific shooting in Las Vegas happened. How Sadie got me through the post-traumatic stress associated with it is what I truly would like to write about.

 

Just a fall day takin' a picture with my mama! #PumpkinSpiceEverything #LoveFall #WhereAreMYTallBoots

A post shared by S A D I E (@sadiethefurrygolden) on

On April 20, 1999, I was shot at Columbine High School. It was the worst school shooting that had ever occurred at the time. I sustained major internal injuries from a bullet that cut through my spinal cord at the T12 level and ripped apart my liver, diaphragm, lungs, and tore a hole in my vena cava. I almost didn't make it, but the doctors called me their "Miracle Girl" because I survived. I experienced all of that when I was just 17 years of age.

Since then, there have been multiple horrific mass shootings that forever change the lives of the survivors. However, as these awful shootings happened over the years, my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was never as bad as it was when the Las Vegas shooting occurred. Previous mass shootings never had live video before, but Las Vegas did have live footage from the survivors' phones. And when I saw the sights of people running and hiding, and when I heard the sounds of the guns and the screaming, it took me right back to when I was 17 and frantically trying to survive with bullets flying all around me. I emotionally ached for the people who were there that day at the concert in Las Vegas. I put myself right there in their shoes because what I saw on video was what they experienced in person.

I kept having visions of me being in the midst of all that chaos over and over and just when I was about to lose it, I felt a furry head putting pressure in my lap. It helped me come back to reality and get me more emotionally grounded. I was then able to see the surroundings of my bedroom and Sadie lying across me. She could sense I was not myself and she needed to help. I should have known she would do something like this, because she does one other thing that I've never taught her how to do.

 

My beautiful girl 😍🐾😍 #NoFilter #AllTheFeels

A post shared by S A D I E (@sadiethefurrygolden) on

Because of the way I was injured, with the bullet cutting through numerous nerves, I now have severe recurring nerve pain. When I first rescued Sadie, she was five months old, just a little puppy. Then as time went by, she noticed me when I would have these nerve pain attacks. I would clasp my hands together tightly, and bow my head and just grit my teeth to suffer through it. Eventually after a few weeks, she started to come closer and just stand right next to my wheelchair, as if to let me know she's there. I never taught her to do that. It's gotten to the point where she puts her head in my lap to try to distract me from the pain I'm experiencing.

Sadie didn't have the luxury of an explanation when my PTSD episodes started to occur. But she knew something was wrong with me because she could sense it. So she did the only thing she knew would help. She laid her body across my stomach facing me, applying gentle pressure. It worked and I was so amazed at her ability to sense my emotional needs and try to help me without ever being taught how to do it. It made Sadie happy and satisfied as well. She is such an intuitive, sweet, intelligent, empathetic, amazingly loving best friend and it makes sense that she just naturally acts like a therapy dog.

Our relationships to our furry companions can never be put into words. My love for Sadie and the love she has for me is such a deep bond that I will never forget nor take for granted.

"Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one is a life diminished."
– Dean Koontz

About the Author

Anne Marie

Anne Marie is a survivor of the Columbine High School shootings that occurred in 1999. She was a junior at the time and graduated on time with her high school diploma a year later. She then went on to graduate from the University of Colorado at Denver with a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. Her passions are music and dogs, and she has many clients for whom she does dogsitting. She also loves going to movies and spending time with family and friends.

Most of the stories here on RideQuickie were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.


Date: 10/17/2017 12:00:00 AM


Comments
Freddy Friedrichs
Nice story. You rescued her and she returns the favor many times over. Your courage and determination will inspire others who are challenged. God bless.
10/31/2017 5:00:31 PM
 

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