Her name is Sunny Spot and she is a rottweiler. Terrifying, right? Bahahahaha…if you’re terrified of big, sweet, loveable, wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly babies then yes, she’s super terrifying.
Her name is Sunny and she is one of the most effective tools we have in our support toolbox for managing my son’s anxiety (which he has officially named “Dickson”, lol). My son has asked me to write this post about him and his dog because she is critical to his comfort, safety, security and managing his anxiety.
We surprised my son with Sunny about 5.5 years ago and he immediately fell in love. She has always been and will always be “his” dog. She sleeps on his bed every night and she can hear him playing at school when he’s out at recess or lunch (our house backs onto his elementary school). She will whine at the back door if she hears him playing and greets him at the front door when he gets home from school. When he leaves, she watches him go every day, sighs, sleeps and waits.
When Owen started having panic attacks he would immediately run to her when we got home. If you’ve ever had a conversation with my son, I’m certain Sunny will be brought up. No one, and I mean no one, who knows my son doesn’t know that we have a dog named Sunny.
As Owen’s panics started growing and anxiety started ruling our lives more and more, Sunny’s love and comfort became a critical piece to managing the hard days. I truly do not know what we would have done without her. He often got through a panic attack and would immediately say “I just want to get home to Sunny. I really need her now”.
The best part? Sunny knows. On hard days, she stays close. She comforts. She loves. She protects. She gives and gives. On easy days, she…stays close, comforts, loves and protects…LOL.
She’s an incredible dog and has become a major part of Owen’s recovery. She is a huge part of his counseling and is officially a character in his strategy to shrink his worries.
The bond between a boy and his dog is strong. But the bond between Sunny and Owen is 1980’s megahold hairspray strong. Unbreakable. Wonderful.
If your child suffers from a mental illness and you’re able to, I would highly recommend you get a dog. There are a lot of lessons she has taught Owen, from responsibility to forgiveness (she eats a lot of his toys), to learning what it takes to take care of a live animal (it’s a lot). But one of the greatest lessons she’s taught us is the power of complete and total acceptance and unconditional love.
Dogs don’t judge. Dogs don’t hate. Dogs don’t make fun. They simply love you for who you are on the good days and the bad days. They love and love and love and all that love builds a bed you can crawl on to recover, rest and become whole again.
She is the greatest gift we’ve ever given Owen and when we got her we had no idea how critical she would be to our son’s growth as a human. We had no idea how critical she would be to our son’s recovery from mental illness.
If you have a child who battles, I would absolutely, 100% urge you to consider bringing a dog into your world. They take a lot of work, but if you make the dog your child’s dog…I’m almost certain he or she will feel more supported than ever before.
Dogs help with anxiety. Well, at least ours did. And I, for one, am extremely grateful for that big goofball. Even if she does eat entire bags of chocolate chips (bad), all the bagels off the counter (bad), roast chickens fresh from the oven (very bad) and my shoe (very, very bad).
Also…she’s MY dog, dammit. MINE. He think she’s his, but…oh fine…she’s his but I get my snuggles in every now and then when he’s still sleeping.
Get a dog, my friends. They help in thousands and thousands of ways.