This gentle creature the day I met him, looked deep down into my broken soul. I was broken when I walked into the venue. Surrounded by equally broken service men who lived through the worst torment of PTSD. Part of me just wanted to run as soon as I arrived. I remember arriving and panicking as it was a Police Station Car park I had to park in. I had a panic attack in the car and almost drove home. I knew I had to make the move to go inside the venue otherwise the alternative for me wasn't looking too good.
The first day I walked in, I was surrounded by people like me. No-one needed to say anything, their sympathetic eyes said it all. I sat down against the wall looking out at everyone there. The love they clearly had for dogs very evident! I was immediately handed a dog to stroke! I felt relaxed as soon as I did. I couldn't understand why and still felt quite sceptical if I am honest!
I slowly introduced myself as people spoke to me. It was something I couldn't offer up freely. I was still isolating myself and it scared me opening up to new people. This was the first time I had been out in ages and the drive there terrified me.
About half an hour in, I was handed a Big black boy called Hudson! He was a little too big for me and as we went for a walk he nearly took me off my feet. Now my husband would have loved him as he always wanted a black labrador (called morpheus!) but for me he was too big. The session soon came to an end and I felt at ease, apprehensive but at ease nevertheless.
The following session, I knew what to expect, and this time I met Bert. Our eyes met and the rest is history!! I had never felt a connection with a dog like it. He looked deep down into my soul and read my mind. I remember him resting his head on my lap to stroke his head, and I remember feeling like he could see my pain. I just sat there stroking him, feeling at ease with him and he stayed with me. I was able to work with him that day, and the following weeks ahead. I was dissapointed when I worked with other dogs. I am not sure I hid it well! I had actually asked for a medium sized female short haired dog, but I fell in love with Bert.
As our teamwork grew, he saved me. Despite having children who were dependant on me and I love them dearly, but he became my excitement to leave the house. He became my freedom. He made me feel safe in his presence. I was excited to introduce this four legged furry head to my family. To show them what had happened and our teamwork. The day he came home, I felt a huge relief. I was anxious on the lead up because I thought I might get placed with another dog. I slept the best that I had slept in a long while. His presence by the side of my bed and a nudge if I was having nightmares meant our bond was sealed! He picked up on my anxiety very quickly. He knew when I needed comforting. He knew when I was feeling sad and when I have sleep paralysis, I feel his presence, not the ugly horrid darkness that feels like it is in the room. My guardian of the night when I wake up and cannot go back to sleep. I only have to stroke him a while and he makes me fall to sleep again.
It is hard to believe a dog can give you so much - but they give you unconditional love. A friend that will never let you down. That is what Bert has brought me, a loyalty that I have never had before of a friend. I don't make friends easily, I am very distrusting. Mainly because PTSD gives me paranoia, but as a result of pain I have suffered when I had my leg incident. Friends that weren't there for me. Bert will always be there. He gives me no reason to distrust him. For that I will be eternally grateful to him. My forever furry head! xx