D is for Dog

Everyone says they have the best dog – they are not wrong. Many say that their dog saved them – again, they are not wrong. The way everyone claims their dog saved them is different, and this is my story.

This is Holden. He is terrier, pug, and chihuahua. He will be eight-years-old on May 17th, and he has been my best friend from the very day he came to live with me. I first met Holden when he was three weeks old. He was in the big of wagon that was brought to a child’s birthday party I had attended. His parents were thrown over the fence at family friend’s house, and little did she know, the female dog was also pregnant. Holden was in the corner of the wagon, while the rest of his sibling’s were cuddle up with one another on the other side of the wagon. As everyone reached for his sibling’s, and “awe’s” filled the air, I reached for the smaller dog, shaking in the corner. Holden was visibly much smaller than his siblings, but he was something special to me. I lifted him in my hand, and at three weeks, he fit in my hand. He fell into my chest, as he was tremoring, and I just knew – this was it, this was my family.

At this time, I was eighteen. I had spent my entire life being fearful of dogs, after being bit by several of them as a kid. To me in this moment, however, he wasn’t a dog. He wasn’t a vicious, wild animal. He wasn’t unknown or frightening to me, he was something that needed me. Something in me knew that I needed him, and I have been ecstatic ever since that I listened to whatever it was inside of me that told me so.

This was a pivotal moment for me, because deciding to take this tiny little ball of fur home with me, gave me the courage to also leave the abusive relationship I was in. It sounds a little farfetched – that a pint-sized animal would give me fulfillment enough to garner enough strength to leave a long-term relationship, but that’s exactly what happened for me. I had felt trapped in this relationship for quite some time because I had been isolated and criticized to the point of worthlessness, but Holden made me feel less alone, less worthless, and ultimately, worthy of love because he was already to love me. Upon leaving this relationship, Holden has showed me every day just how to live – happily, with curiosity, freely giving love, and when in doubt, take a nap.

Over the two weeks that I waited for him to come to live with me (I got him at five weeks), I joked about naming him Robert DeNiro. On the first day that he was truly mine, however, the name Holden made immediate sense to me and I knew that was the name for him. The name Holden was inspired by the book Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. There is a piece in the book where Holden Caulfield, the main character, is describing a golden wheat and rye field, and the happiness it would bring to be able to stand in this field and fulfill his destiny. As I gazed upon Holden, I recognized that the color of his fur was exactly how I imagined the color of the field that Holden Caulfield described. Similar to the feeling of fulfillment that field brought Holden Caulfield, so has my Holden brought to me.

It has been a rough past eight years, with a lot of heartbreak, anxiety, depression, unknowns, and unfortunately abuse – but Holden was a constant. Holden has been love. Holden has been joy. Holden has been the perfect partner through it all. He has saved me from myself for times than I can count, and he has helped me escape my burdens more times than I would like to admit. He has made the rough times, less rough, and the good times, just that much better. When someone says their dog saved their life, I always believe them, because I know mine did.  

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