Dog Is Good: A Very Unique Dogvergnügen Experience With Joey and Theo

IMG_2017-2-2For several years I watched the “love of my life” deteriorate and withdraw as she dealt with severe PTSD and chronic pain. It has been gut wrenching to watch her struggle in dealing with her past, a past of repeated childhood rape followed by an 18 year abusive previous marriage. As well, she dealt physically with the effects of a horrible horse accident that broke multiple bones from the ground impact and from the horse landing on top of her.

I did everything I could every single day to help, to support, to buffer…anything I could think of, but still, the effects of these traumas became devastating to the mind and body of the most amazing woman I had ever met. Once vital, vibrant, giving and loving in our relationship her amazing personality and spirit were broken down, consumed. She was often left unable to cope with life. As is all too typical with PTSD the horrible threat of suicide became an enormous concern for me. I feared that I would lose her to the “darkness” on a daily basis. And to be frank, there were several times that I saved her life, kept her alive…it was that severe.  And even with keeping her alive, PTSD would be triggered quite often bringing further waves of anguish and pain. Alive but where was the good in life? For a previously intense adventurous spirit like Joey’s, her life had become the complete opposite.

So, how to help her to fight, to rebuild a life that — albeit different, would be a new form of challenge and meaning? The possibility of a trained service dog was pursued. This quickly became a dead end however. Cost prohibitive for us and/or with long waiting lists to possibly be awarded a service dog. I realized Joey had only one option then for a possible service dog. I had a young, playful, full-of-life Labrador Retriever I named Theo. His life, with grand enthusiasm, was his “dad,” fetch and food… I knew though that if Theo had any chance of becoming Joey’s service dog then I had to “let go,” step aside and allow them a chance at chemistry. As Theo was trained and spent time with Joey a new bond and sense of trust emerged.

As Theo was successfully trained as a service dog this allowed Joey to venture back out into the world, into social situations with complex PTSD. The “re-inventing” of a life began, actually of two lives: Joey’s and Theo’s. There was no way to predict what was going to happen with those two but the growth and bond for both has been amazing. Joey now has a new adventure in going back to college and is a speaker addressing PTSD and speaking against violence against women as well. As for Theo, in my heart, in a way I cannot describe, he’s still my boy. I am so proud of him. I will love that dog forever. Theo gets my “Dogvergnügen moment” of a lifetime award! What a beautiful boy…

For Joey, and countless others with PTSD, each day holds 86,400 seconds in a day that represent  86,400 chances of being triggered out of the blue, of having flashbacks as the body’s defense system reacts and devastates. And Theo is now able to be effective in minimizing and assisting when Joey does trigger. Helping to keep her stable and guiding her when she is disoriented, opening doors for her, etc. With that said, I present to you this short music picture video entitled Dog Is Good! I am in awe of who Theo is and what he has grown to be. As for Joey, well, just watch the video.

Thank you for “listening” – Kenny