Pets in Addiction Recovery: How My Dog Saved My Life

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By Will Gold Tree House Staff

My dog, Shilo, has improved my life in many ways. I found Shilo five years ago. She was 6 months old and I was 21. When Shilo came into my life, I was ignorant and living a very unhealthy addicted lifestyle. I had zero responsibility, no unconditional love, and I barely knew how to take care of myself.

I thought there would be no way that I could keep Shilo and give her the care she needed. But I did not want to give her to the Humane Society, for the simple fact I couldn’t let her be in a small cage while she waited for new owners. I decided to keep her until they called. They never called. I decided to take her in for good – we had built a strong bond by this time. Thus started my journey with this beautiful furry soul. In many ways, she saved me. This was my first ever big commitment in life. it involved keeping her healthy and happy, feeding her, playing with her, and training her. In return, she showed me unconditional love. There is not a moment that passes by while in her presence that I don’t feel unconditional love and playfulness. She taught me not to take life so seriously and to be present, that there is something beautiful in every moment.

Her love rubbed off on me. I began to show myself more love, and had more to share with her. There are moments in life when I feel lonely or down on myself and she can bring me back to the now by telling me she needs to get outside and play, or just rubbing her nose of my face. She has taught me patience and compassion. There have been times when she ran into the car or house muddy and rubs it everywhere, or when she is a lot to handle and needed all of my attention.

I could go on and on about how my dog has helped fill my life with beauty and benefits. If you come across a dog in need of a home, just know that it is a two-way street. That dog can be one of the most beneficial things in your life at time. You can find purpose in having and taking care for any animal.

Mental Benefits of having a dog by your side:

  • Increase levels of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin
  • Lower chances of suffering from depression
  • 30 min. of petting a dog can lower blood pressure and relax muscles
  • People become more satisfied with their lives
  • Leads to less isolation due to healthy habits
  • Dogs can help you socialize with other people
  • Learn unconditional love
  • Kids learn to be empathetic
  • Dogs can be great therapy and even detect seizures and/or cancer

Tree House Recovery is a men’s treatment program located in Portland, Oregon. Creating sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men learn how to live sober with adventurous lives. Call us today for information: (855) 969-5181

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