Thursday, November 21, 2013

And they call it puppy love…..

There's not many positive things about having Crohn's Disease. In the past I wrote a blog to lighten the mood about the very few perks I could find about having a disease. Well, within the last year I found the BIGGEST perk to having Crohn's; a disease that luckily falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act. About one year ago, after my engagement ended, I found myself back to living alone. Oddly the relationships breakup didn't take much time to recover from, but living alone became challenging. I was sick off and on and missed having someone there for comfort. I was fortunate to have family nearby and I made sure that I went to visit my niece and nephew almost every day. That fulfilled a good portion of the loneliness, but it wasn't enough. I still came home to an empty apartment. I still slept in an empty bed. My mother, the wonder woman, came up with an idea that made me the happiest I had been in a very long time. You see, my mom always is on the internet looking up new research and info on Crohn's Disease. She's always looking for an alternative to medicine to better my quality of life. She's my rock. She came across a book called, Do Border Collies Dream of Sheep, by Carol Lea Benjamin and C Denise Wall. Carol suffers from Crohn's Disease and realizes that her dog is far more than just a companion. She realizes that her lovely vivacious dog can also be a service dog. It already possessed the proper qualities of one. So this got my mother thinking…what about a service dog for Carly? I was a little unsure about the idea at first. Only because I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle the work training a dog; especially from the puppy stage to adulthood. Would I be able to truly give the dog the attention it needs being a sick person? Would I be judged by other people and questioned? The answer to all of those is yes. I could handle the training and I could love the dog until the end of time. Also, I knew that I would be judged and questioned, but knew my illness stood strong in itself. No one should dare question my reasonings. My mother and I talked on the phone about it off and on for months. She realized that it couldn't just be any cute dog that could be my companion - I would always live in apartments (well, possibly until marriage); I needed one that wasn't a major barker, and I would prefer a smaller breed dog in case I had to lift them. The big deciding factor would be companionship. I really needed a people person kind of dog. We decided on a Cavalier King Charles spaniel breed. I always felt their faces and eyes made me weak in the knees, but I had no idea just how sweet of a breed they are. We read that they fit the criteria we were looking for to a "T." There were things on the check-off list that we had to consider: no puppy mills, no inbreeding, no pet stores, and no adult dogs. The Cavaliers are purebred and come with a few health risks that we had to be cautious of. This is why we weren't willing to risk having a puppy that couldn't provide its family tree and American Kennel Club certification. We were going in hardcore and it was the only way to do it right! Looking online was challenging, and a lot of places seemed sketchy. My mother would call and find out that the "breeder" wasn't even living in the same state as the dogs - sounded like a fancy puppy mill to me. We finally got lucky! Correction: I got lucky. My mom was visiting friends in San Francisco. She was telling this lady friend all about my situation and how badly I wanted a Cavalier. As luck would have it, she just happened to know a breeder down the street who bred Cavaliers about once or twice a year. She and my mom jumped in the car and took a chance by knocking on this breeders door. She happened to just have a new litter of puppies! My mom instantly found out that the mother, father, and grandfather lived with this breeder lady and her family. Right away that was a good sign. She was also a trustworthy member of the American Kennel Club and had all the proper paperwork for the puppies. My mom began texting me photos of the puppies playing, and happened to come across this female puppy who was the runt of the litter. Next she sent me a video of her playing. I instantly fell in love. I could not stop replaying the video over and over again. I was even crying just thinking about how she could be mine some day. When my mom left the breeders home, she called me instantly and asked me if I wanted her. How could I say no? I already felt this instant, intense connection to her. It just felt right and I didn't want to second guess my feelings. My mom made the deal and she became mine overnight. At the time I was living in Deerfield Beach, Florida. That's quite the commute for an eight week old puppy. I was afraid for her, but knew it had to be done. Apparently Delta Airlines ships hundreds of animals weekly on cargo aircrafts. So this was a piece of cake. The breeder was nervous because she'd never shipped a puppy before. We emailed each other constantly to get each other through it! The day I arrived to pick up Sally ( I came up with her name before I met her), I heard all the animals contained in the back crying and barking. I was SO worried that Sally had been crying the entire trip, and extremely frightened. When they brought her tiny little kennel out, she was as calm as ever. She wasn't making a peep. She was a little frightened, but took the flight like a champ. The moment I took her out, she was overjoyed to kiss and play with me. I held her tiny little body in my hand and pressed my face against hers…over and over. We took her into a grassy area and I just sat down with her, my eyes filled with tears. She was the most beautiful little creature I had ever seen. I knew that my life would change from then on…and it could only get better. Instantly I knew that she was the perfect breed. She already loved to snuggle with me. I couldn't imagine keeping her in her kennel; even though I should have for potty training. Bad mommy. I could tell that she knew I was her mama, and she never wanted to part from my side. She was amazing with my niece and nephew, and she would never hurt a fly. She's so friendly that she'll jump into anyones open car door; something to which I must work on in case somebody ever wants to take her home! She would rather be in the company of people, and never cares to have a moment alone. Most importantly, she makes me feel complete. There are days where I can't get out of bed and Sally will lie with me the entire day. She rests her head on my chest or lies her entire body in my lap. She crawls up and spreads her entire body over mine and pushes her face under my neck. Her warmth is consoling and makes me forget momentarily that I have a disease. I can see people question and judge me when she walks around with her service dog vest. I try my best to ignore them and remember that I would never cheat the system, and this is the BEST perk about having a disease. I try to remember that I deserve to have something as beloved as Sally. She's only a year old, and still has a lot of training to do to become a successful service dog. However, in this moment she is doing pretty darn well as a puppy. I've read all the laws hundreds of times to defend my case against anyone who wants to question it. She's an emotional support dog, a service dog, a companion dog, and a love bug dog. Call her what you'd like. My life with my disease would be so much more difficult without her. No one will ever take that precious feeling away from me. Even if Sally's life isn't until my end, she will have been loved and had the best darn doggy life out there! I love her so hard every day and will continue to do so. I can't emphasize to other Crohn's patients how much better you feel when you have a companion such as a dog. If you're an animal person, I wouldn't hesitate. Sometimes I think that motherhood must be a million times more intense, because I can't imagine loving something or someone else that's mine like how I love Sally. She's my baby. The next man out there better watch out. He's got a lot of competition. Ha!


  1. Hi Carly,
    I was inspired by your "puppy post." I have never had a dog because they were too much work and like you I also have crohn's and don't always feel I have the energy to care for another being, BUT!

    I have been living with family members who decided to get a dog. Since Rocco, was brought to our home at 8 weeks my world has changed for the better. Rocco is a ray of sunshine in my life. Even when I don't feel great the dog makes me feel better. He seems to know that I need some attention.

    I completely understand how your dog and family member can be a source of comfort especially when you are not feeling well.

    Thanks for sharing. TC

  2. Special Sally . She watches over you.