When I was 23 I decided to adopt a puppy that was absolutely terrified at the shelter and all alone in her cage. She was so nervous she didn’t even open up to us much but I knew she was meant to be my pup. I’ve always dealt with anxiety and I have battled panic attacks for years I wanted to give a pup with extreme anxiety a place to feel safe. I got to take her home that day. Oakley was scared of even coming in our apartment but as the days and weeks went on I saw her come out of her shell and at the time we had an older husky Tiger living with us who helped Oakley feel safe. But when we first brought Oakley home we found a 3 week old kitten whose now roscoe who Oakley helped show me how to raise. We had no idea how to get a kitten to go to the bathroom since they don’t do it on their own but oakleys motherly instincts kicked right in and together we were on the journey of saving a kittens life.
Unfortunately, a half a year later Tiger passed away and Oakley took a major step back in her anxiety and hid in the closet for days. After two weeks I decided she would need a friend that was brave to help her out. So to the shelter we went where she picked out the loudest pup whose liter mates had all found homes. We took her home that day named her burton aka Burty and were in for one hell of a ride. I’ve never had a coonhound in my life and didn’t realize how much work they were, neither did Oakley. We were all so exhausted but Burty could make Oakley overcome any fear she had because she wanted to protect Burty. No matter how scared she was she would go chasing after burt when she’d run off, she would go into a large crate with her when I left for work just to be near her, show her how to play ball, show her the way on our many hikes, clean her up at night and snuggle her despite there being a storm. Burty has since returned the favor forever protecting Oakley from dogs she’s terrified of, sounds she scared of, showing Oakley things are okay and it’s safe to keep walking.
The bond these two have has taught me so much in life. I have never known life without anxiety and to have two pups show me that even though the world is scary you can still push thru and see the beauty in the new scary things if you have the right company has been the best life lesson I’ve ever learned. My pups and cat have also helped me during my panic attacks they all have their own reaction which can help distract or comfort me enough to provide some relief. I am forever grateful for my fur babies and seeing them with their first human sister has just reassured me yet again that animals are the best and they can truly complete a family.
Story submitted by Erinn.