Yesterday I was a guest on a podcast about people who are trying to make a difference in the world.
The host was a quiet high school student and he was incredibly personable. I loved his pacing and his desire to do what he sees as a small thing to help our hurting world.
Of course we talked about dogs. Not the book, except to mention I’d written a book, but we didn’t even share the title which is fine with me.
I told my story and how I went from saying I’d never have a dog to doing what I do. Pretty wild story when you think about it.
One of his questions prompted me to say that I’m not a dog person. I love my dog, but I’m not a stereotypical person who would adopt any and every dog out there. I told him I have a problem with injustice and inequality in our world. I fight for homeless people, for people without enough food, for those being abused. So while I am not a “dog” person, too many rescues have been homeless and hungry and abused and so I will fight for them.
I shared that when I was depressed and suicidal after my brain injury my dog let me just be. He never asked why I wasn’t the old me. He didn’t tell me it was time to shake it off, to go to the gym, that I’d feel better if I talked to a therapist.
When I was in the depths of my depression the last thing I wanted to do was to get dressed and get some Vitamin D or go on a long, meandering walk. I read. Or slept. Or daydreamed about not being in WI.
But when I adopted a dog I had a choice. Stay on the sofa and wallow in my horrible life or clean up poop. Cause that dog had to be walked. Once I walked outside I realized that I felt a little better. And, best of all, dogs are people magnets.
Neighbors came up to tell me how cute my dog was, to laugh about his name, to ask me if was I new to the area. Little by little things weren’t so awful. Trust me, I still wanted to go home, but I didn’t feel as hopeless and dire.
When my little guy looked at me and my fingers dropped to his fur and I started stroking him over and over, something happened. I now know that the touch between a human and a dog can have therapeutic benefits for both species. In humans, petting a dog can trigger the release of the bonding hormone oxytocin. Feeling that fur can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
I shared the benefits of having a dog was and magic happened in that interview. He said he had never liked dogs and was actually scared of them and had been for his entire life. But after hearing my story he said he has a whole new way of thinking about dogs and that maybe he should get a one.
We moved on in our interview to talk about how story telling can change the world. I told him that’s why I write. I write to tell stories that will change the world. I think maybe I changed his world yesterday. And I hope he changes the life of at least one dog.