As animal lovers, we know how rewarding it is to adopt a dog. We know that it not only saves that dog, but it also frees up space for another dog to be given the same chance at a forever home. There is a flip side of the coin, however, that is not recognized quite as much. And that is the fact, that adopting a dog can also save the guardian, in more ways than one. For some, that may come in the form of the dog repaying the favor by saving or rescuing their caretaker or family, as seen in countless cases. For others, rescue dogs can provide emotional support in times of hardship.

For Rachel, that support couldn’t have come at a better time. Nothing could have prepared her for the sudden loss of her husband, Laurence. Rachel’s story, originally captured through the facebook page Human of New York, states, ” I felt so lost. My friends were wonderful and supportive but eventually, everyone moves on with their lives. I don’t have children. And I’m not a workaholic. So I was left with this intense loneliness and void. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep.”

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Rachel goes on to say “…one day I started researching dogs that are good for grief and depression. And ‘poodle’ kept popping up. But when I went to the rescue fair, all the poodles were gone. There was this one old dog in the back that nobody was looking at. She was skin and bones. She was trembling and scared and mucus was running out of her eyes. She seemed so fragile. She reminded me of myself.”

 

The feeling of having the one thing taken from you that makes you feel safe, comfortable, and loved is certainly one of the hardest things to deal with in life. The thing is, it doesn’t just happen to humans, this is the same feeling pets experience when they are abandoned on the streets or at the shelter by their families. This is why Rachel and her rescue dog Grace were the perfect match … they needed each other.

Studies have shown that playing or interacting with animals can increase the levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and reduces the stress-inducing hormone cortisol. This human-animal bond can also help in overcoming anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. This is especially true when it comes to rescue dogs because of the connection that comes with knowing what its like to feel vulnerable and it also provides an outlet. Taking on the responsibility of caring for another being in need can bring purpose and meaning during life’s darkest hours. If you or someone you know is going through something, adopting a dog may be just what the doctor ordered (but please be sure to consider all of the responsibilities beforehand).

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To learn more about the human-animal bond and support the role of therapy dogs click here.

Image source: Human of New York