They say dogs are a mans best friend. Where else would you find someone who will offer you 110% unconditional love and devotion? Your friends, your family, even your partner can stab you in the back in the blink of an eye. But your dog never will.
Almost three years ago, my husband and I dropped off his car for an oil change. While we waited we went to “look” at puppies, an activity that we really enjoy. There was no intention to buy one, just to look and maybe play with one. But this time, it was different. I spotted a furry little muffin in the window and asked to hold her. It was love at first sight. I had an instant bond with this puppy. I begged my husband to buy her. He said no. I knew that this puppy was very special, I had to have her. I persisted until he finally gave in and we went home with my new fur baby.
I cannot explain the connection that I have with Suzy. She is literally like my third child. She is a great source of comfort to me. When I am stressed or triggered and she climbs into my lap I am overwhelmed with a sense of love and compassion. I can talk to her, vent to her and she doesn’t care. She does not think I am crazy or intolerant. Well, at least there is no way for her to verbalize it.
Most people would think that having a dog would be a bad thing for a Misophonia sufferer. You cannot blame them for thinking that, if you think about it a dog is a walking trigger. They have no manners. They chew with their mouths open as they crunch, they lap up the water and what about the barking! I am not going to lie, the barking is brutal. The worst part is when we are sitting on the sofa, sometimes she will climb on my shoulder and sit on the back of the couch to look out the window. It is so nice having her so close to me until that moment when the UPS driver pulls up or a person walks by walking their dog. BARK! I also suffer from hyperacusis so I experience a sharp stabbing pain deep inside my ear that is unbearable. One bark will not typically trigger my Misophonia. But once she barks, our other two dogs bark and then I am in sensory overload. Strangely with any other sound, I would normally go into a meltdown, but my reactions to the triggers from the dogs are different. When they do trigger me, I still feel the rage and discomfort, my blood pressure increases and I am in rage mode, but I do not meltdown. For me, that is a huge accomplishment.
Another very odd thing about Suzy is that it does not trigger me when she eats a cookie or even a carrot chip. Maybe if she continually ate them, I would be affected. I am completely confused by the lack of reaction to her making sounds that would send me off the deep end in any other scenario.
I cannot explain it, I just NEED her. If I am upset or in a meltdown, having her close to me does help provide me with comfort. Trust me, I have had meltdowns away from home and when I am trying to calm down enough to drive, I will scroll through pictures of her on my phone. It helps decompress all of the negative emotions.
Why am I writing an article about my dog for a Misophonia site? She really does help me cope with my condition. A pet, whether it is a dog, cat, rabbit, etc. can be a very valuable part of your coping mechanisms. I am not sure if it is the softness of her fur, the feeling of her heartbeat when she is in my arms, or just knowing that I am her person and she would do anything in the world for me. Whatever the reason, she is my security blanket, she “gets” me.
Many sufferers contemplate having a pet but hold off because they fear that the pet may trigger them. Do not let your fear hold you back from what could be the best decision you ever make. There are reasons that dogs become service animals.
Another example of a therapy pet is fish. My husband had an aquarium for a short period of time, watching the fish swim was so therapeutic and relaxing. Fish are a very quiet pet, you just cannot snuggle them.
Still undecided about adding a dog or cat to your family? It is a big responsibility. Why not take a trial run? Foster a dog or cat? The shelters are filled with so many loving animals that could be YOUR best friend.