As I type this post, I have my two best friends sitting with me on the couch. To my left, on the couch arm, is my 19 year old cat, Monty, who I received as a birthday gift many years ago, and to my right, is my almost four year old dog, Harper. This past month has been a trial with Monty; his health is on the decline and the only thing currently working to reduce his howling episodes is pain medication. When he is on the medication, he seems to be his old youthful self - having a spark to his walk, batting around a string, and more social. Monty's mortality has been on my mind quite a bit because the last thing I want for him is to suffer. With all the research that I have been doing, cats hide their pain from their owners, so I'm constantly reviewing his behavioral patterns. I can't deny the fact that I've had a few sleepless nights in which I've cried over the thought of losing him and/or having to make the decision to euthanize him. I have thought about the years of joy he has brought me, and how he would be by my side on some of the hardest days and nights I've faced alone. Pets provide the best comfort because they can't talk. They are just accepting of the situation and can tell when you need a bit of love. So I have tried to reciprocate this to Monty this past month, as his small body deals with the pains of old age.
I have not had the opportunity to finish the blog post that I drafted on Harper. Instead, I am creating a blog (Life After The Animal Shelter) in hopes that more people would adopt from a shelter rather than buy from a breeder. Harper came into my life pretty swiftly, and I would not change this one bit. People say that dogs take on the owner's personality. I don't know if this is true, but I do know that as a rescue dog, Harper has needed a little TLC along the way. I don't have his backstory; he came into the shelter as a stray. Harper has provided my life structure and pushed me to come out of my comfort zone. He has softened my heart, and I'm beginning to show signs of being a loving person again.
The past couple of years have been rather rocky for me mentally and emotionally. I became afraid and did not know what it was like to be vulnerable around people. I did not want to put my heart, my love, my whole being out there, even if it was just to my friends. I was and am always disheartened when I put all of myself into a relationship (friends/significant other/family) and I only get a small portion back from the other person. I closed myself off and put up a stone wall so I would not have to feel any pain from anybody. I purposely kept people at a distance as I worked through my inner struggles. It's easier to work through these struggles with a pet; they love unconditionally and comfort unconditionally. Harper has helped more than most people realize. No matter how many times I leave or how long I'm gone, he's always happy and overly excited when I come home. He blossoms more each day that I have him, overcoming his fears and becoming more confident. It's amazing what a little encouragement can do for a dog. It's amazing what a little encouragement could do for a human being...
About a month ago, I went out for a friend's birthday, and it reminded me of what I used to enjoy - getting to know people and hearing their stories. As I celebrated my birthday in downtown Austin last night, I was, to a degree, surprised that I still had "it," and that I should not be afraid of people and of getting hurt. I also realized that I have my own story to tell, and it's worth sharing.
This is my story.