The first time my dogs saved my life, I knew I would forever need one in my life.
Suicide is always in my mind, a way out should my world gets too overwhelming, and my reasons to live just don’t make sense anymore.
On this one particular day, I was driving with both my dogs in the car; Cubby, a silver/gray poodle cross, and Panda, a lab collie cross. We were on our way home from somewhere, I don’t remember much from that day, the trigger, the reasons, or the people. The only things that stand out in my mind from that day were the intense feelings of despair and pain coursing through my body. They were so powerful, so fierce, I could barely drive, or see through my tears. I just wanted to stop the pain.
I knew there was a bridge ahead. The urge to drive right off the bridge into the strong currents of the river raged strong. To sink into oblivion and leave everything behind, the fears, the pain, the hopelessness.
I imagined the scene; the car filling with water, my acceptance of taking water into my mouth, my nose, my lungs, and the peace I would have with my body sinking into depths of the murky river. The End.
I felt my puppy’s tongue lick at my teary cheek. Then the image of my dogs flashed through my mind, of taking them into the water with me, drowning with me. Except they weren’t calm like me. They were terrified, struggling, pawing at anything they could get at to keep their little heads above the water. Whining. Yelping. Their trusting eyes full of fear, begging me to help them, to get them out, to save them. They didn’t want to die.
Oh My God! What was I doing? These dogs were my beloved pets, adopted into my life, and loved as if they were my own children!
I pulled off the road and sat in the car, stunned at what had just happened in my head. It was real, the thoughts, the feelings, the impromptu scheme of drowning myself as I got closer to the bridge. It wasn’t the thought of dying that shook me. What shook me to my core was that I would kill my dogs. That I would inflict fear and death on them, as the last thing they would experience from me. How horrible to do so. I could never kill them. They deserved their life. They trusted me. They followed me. I am their mom, their alpha, they would go anywhere with me.
I could not lead them into suicide with me. I had to take them home.
“I am not drowning myself today. I am not killing my puppies. I love them too much to take them with me.” I said to myself over and over again.
I sat in the car for a long time, sobbing out my relief at what I didn’t do, what didn’t happen. They didn’t know why I was crying, or why I held them so tightly. They were content to just let me.
I took them home and we lived another day.
Thinking back to that day still brings chills up my spine. Even though it never actually occurred, the images of my dogs struggling for their lives as the car filled up with water are still vivid in my mind. I didn’t take my own life that day because I didn’t want to take their lives as collateral damage. They saved me that day, just as surely as if they had dragged me by the neck and doggy paddled me safely to shore.
The two dogs from that day have since passed, and still I miss their presence by my side. But I am grateful for the time I had with them. They kept me present, gave their unconditional love and devotion in times when I felt like life was unbearable. They stayed by my side when I was buried deep in the dark hole that is my bane in this life. They kept me grounded by giving me their bodies to hold onto when I felt myself drowning. Without intention or plan, they came into my life and became my therapy dogs.
Thank you, my girls, thank you.