By Juan Santos, M.S., CRC, LPCA
When I married my wife, I also married her childhood dog “Buddie”. It has been almost a year since Buddie left us. Yet, I can spend endless hours talking about him.
As a professional counselor, father, and husband, I have a unique view into the gift a pet brings to a house. The first time I met Buddie, he was protective of my wife and cautious around me. He behaved in the perfect fashion. As a pet, friend, and companion to my wife, he protected her and supported her when she needed him. It took time, a lot of time, for Buddie to welcome me into his life as he did my wife. Yet, I completely understand why.
Even in our personal lives, we display caution around new people. We protect those we love and we require time to grow emotionally close to others.
To strangers, Buddie appeared as a lazy overweight Beagle. To us, he wore many hats in life.
Buddie was the trampoline to my overly energetic daughter. He allowed her to push, pull and jump all over him. Yet, if he felt a stranger approach her; he was protective and supportive.
Buddie was a positive distraction. At times when life threw curve balls, he would show up eager and ready to distract.
Buddie was more than a dog to scratch. I think most people, like my wife and I, have difficult days. Work days filled with exhaustion and burnout. Days that would drive us from sadness to anxiety. Scratching Buddie was anything but a simple scratch. I truly believe that Buddie came to us because he knew we needed him. He would allow us, as exhausted parents, to hold or scratch him until our mood would shift for the better.
It is with great pain that Buddie is not around for my son to push, pull and jump on. It is with great sadness that I did not tell Buddie how important he was to me as a father, husband, and counselor. Yet, I’m sure that he knew.
Pets have the power to support us with sadness, anxiety, and so much more. It’s interesting how we can enter a simple pet store with a frown and exit with a smile. As a healer, I want to encourage others to explore their pet’s ability in providing comfort and emotional support.