Tag Archives: dog therapy

Sleepless nights and dog therapy

Depiction of sleepless: a silhouette of a human head with a whirl of purple and white seeming to drain into the brain.

It’s one of those sleepless nights. It’s 4:25 a.m. I fell asleep on the couch around 9 p.m., woke up about midnight. Let the dog out, went to bed. And I’ve been awake ever since.

I understand it’s part of adulting – there are some days when the overwhelming muchness of life is just too much and our brains just can’t stop whirling. There isn’t really anything in particular – it’s just the weight of everything crashing in.

Safety in dogs

What does any of this have to do with dogs?  For people like us, dogs are our living, breathing, cuddling sanctuaries – by definition “place of refuge or safety.”

No matter what’s going on in your life, you’re not alone as long as you have a dog. That’s priceless. 

The other day we spoke to a friend who was absolutely despondent. The stress of work, news, and a car accident built up to an almost-crisis point. Granted, she’s a person who leads with her heart, but we think she was more than a little serious when she said that, if it weren’t for her dogs, she’d consider suicide. 

Dogs are that important. 

As I (Hope) write this, I’m sitting in bed, listening to the (very early) morning news, with my dog’s back warming the length of my leg. Even asleep, he’s a constant source of comfort and connection.

Every single day our dogs give us lots of reasons to keep going. We get up because they need to be walked, fed, and taken care of. Exercise is crucial for our dogs, as well as for us, so we get dressed every day and get out of the house. And every day our dogs give us reasons to smile – because they’re hooligans and make us laugh. Most days the dogs are a reason to go somewhere and do something.

We’ve mentioned many times that one of the reasons we play dog sports with our dog (obedience, rally, agility) is because it lets us connect with other dog people. And we all know that people who love dogs are the best people in the world. 

Getting rid of the noise

The other reason – we get to forget all the outside pressures in our lives. For that hour or two, all we have to think about is having fun with our dogs.

That little “recess” may not change much, but it does elevate our mood and let us keep our troubles in perspective. 

We’re not happy about being up pre-dawn. But we’ll sit here and reduce our stress level by petting our dog, breathing deep, and sharing our thoughts with you.

Dogs are our happy place

Personally, it’s been a tough couple of weeks for Hope. The saving grace through all of it has been spending time with our dogs. Dogs are our happy place.

Specifically – the three sucky things that happened were:

  • Just as Hope and Torque were ready to enter the Obedience Competition ring, a smooth collie stuck its nose up Torque’s butt and he consequently lost all focus and attention. This was after driving 90 minutes in driving rain to get to the obedience trial site. 
  • Hope was stung on the top of her foot by a yellow jacket wasp as she took out the trash from dog-food-making day. She does not react well to bites/stings.
  • And in completely non-dog-related suckitude, the clothes rod in her closet came out of the wall, dumping everything on the floor in a giant heap.

None of these incidents is life-shattering. And Hope is generally a pretty even-keeled person, a glass-half-full kind of woman.

Taken together, they were a bit overwhelming. 

Thank goodness we have dogs!

French Bulldog leaning on woman

Nothing soothes the turmoil of sucky days better than some time spent cuddled with your dog. Psychologists break it down into five ways dogs make us feel better: Dogs improve mood, make you feel loved, lower your stress, help you be social, and keep you healthy and fit.

Hope’s Torque is a wonderful happy place ambassador – he loves to hug. And cuddle. When you need to rant, your dog just listens, or even kisses your face. He doesn’t try to “fix it,” or want you to stop talking. He just looks at you with those gorgeous puppy-dog eyes and lets you talk it out. Hope felt so much better. You better believe Torque got extra treats for being such a good therapist.

Torque isn’t very photogenic – dark dogs are very hard to take pictures of. But we think he’s gorgeous, inside and out.