Six years ago, I was left feeling completely alone in the world by the man I loved and my first roommate. I had left my family situation two years prier, I couldn’t go back.
I felt my depression, social anxiety and agoraphobia take over. The PTSD from a past abusive relationship that had been dormant for three years came at me at full force. I was drowning. I felt completely abandoned. To be honest, I wanted my life to end. I even attempted a few times. I was completely lost. To be honest, I don’t remember what inspired me to start looking for a service dog. I suppose it was my last attempt to escape the life of painful solitude that I had seen play out before.
I started looking up programs that trained service dogs, rescues and more. The prices were so much, the waiting lists were so long.. Everything felt hopeless. Then, a friends dog, Jaz, had a litter. Jaz had the perfect temperament, and I felt like the timing of her giving birth was fate. Soon after the pups were born, I went to meet them. All these squirming bodies, all so cute, so happy. But then our eyes met, the little black lab closest to her mother, watching and thinking.
We went into the other room to get acquainted, the name “Zaina” popped into my head as I watched her explore so I called her. She turned and came right way, I knew then she was the one. The first little while together after she came home was interesting. I had never had a dog before and I was admittedly still fighting a very dark depression. Zaina was a quick learner though, house trained in a little over a week, answering to her name, sit, stay, even off leash training was going so smoothly despite it all being so new to both of us. I also noticed something else, she was reacting to my emotional spikes and lows and trying to find ways to assist me.
Within Zaina’s first year I was in a very dark place, but she started teaching me how she could help. She remembered where we lived, places we had to go, even knowing what bus stop to get off at to go to my doctors (give or take a stop or two), making me look at her when I had anxiety spike in different levels, making me focus on her, interrupting nervous behaviors, guiding me out of buildings and situations that made me spike when I asked her to. I really cannot take credit for how amazing she is. Basically she did what had to be done, and I encouraged it. Zaina also got me into the dog park community with amazing people.
I started walking dogs with gave me a never before felt sense of purpose and value. I was now part of something because of this sweet, smart puppy. Zaina opened my world up so much more than it had ever been before, just when I needed it most. Today, I still struggle with my mental health challenges, but I know that I have grown as a person more in the last 6 years than I every thought I could. My relationship with Zaina has shaped me into someone who has a little more faith in miracles, someone who is now seeing her own value, someone who wants to live.
Zaina is my angel, and she saves my life. Every. Single. Day.
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