Dogs are among the most beloved animals on the planet. Their loyalty, kindness, and intelligence are what make them the world’s best pets and every man’s best friend. When you have a dog, you’re able to feel loved and share love selflessly, enjoying every moment you spend together. But, dogs are capable of doing so much more for you.
In fact, dogs help you beat depression, and get back on your feet after a setback. To prove our point and share the beauty of a dog’s heart with you, we’ve put together a list of five inspiring dog stories. Sit back and get ready to have your heart melted by these tales of how dogs help you beat depression.
Let’s kick it off!
1. Puppies Behind Bars
The idea that dogs can have healing effects on our bodies and positively influence our mental health gave birth to the idea of the program called Puppies Behind Bars (PBB).
The program was initiated in New York, where the founder Gloria Gilbert Stoga, started with five Labrador retriever puppies. The idea is simple:
- the program assigns prison inmates with the job to raise service dogs
- these service dogs are then assigned to war veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD, depression, or anxiety
- once paired up, PBB and their new owners start a new journey together
This is exactly how Brian Andrews, a former NYPD officer, and 9/11 responder, got paired up with his dog Pete. Pete is a black Labrador who was assigned to Andrews after he’s been struggling with depression and physical injuries.
Since the two have become a team, Andrews has become “more like his old self, and even-tempered.”
2. Rescue Dog Indu
Dogs are extremely loyal and friendly, but they can also help us reflect on ourselves and take a deep look into our minds and souls.
This is exactly what happened to rescue dog Indu and her owner Lavanya Sunkara.
Lavanya was in a dark place before she met Indu. She was struggling with all kinds of pressures and hardships:
- low self-esteem
- pressured to get married soon
- having to pay off a debt
- living with her parents
- being in a toxic relationship
Once she adopted Indu from the shelter, things started to turn around.
She got out of the toxic relationship, regained self-esteem and started going to therapy actively. Although it wasn’t Indu who cured her depression, it was Indu who got her going and helped her collect the energy to start working on her problems.
Years later, Indu was the maid of honor at her wedding.
3. Chancer the Service Dog
For a family whose child has fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), life can be tough. That was the case with the Winokur family and their adopted son Ilay.
Their son was experiencing “rages, delayed emotional growth, and sleepless nights,” which took a tow on the entire family and made it hard for them to bond with the teenager.
Luckily, their son was paired with a service dog Chancer who was trained to help people with FAS.
He helped Ilay:
- control his rages
- shorten his rage episode
- bond more with the rest of the family
With such a burden lifted off of their shoulders, the whole family was feeling better, less stressed out and blue.
4. Bella & Baloo
Feelings of loneliness is what triggers depression in so many people.
An inspiring story about a girl named Bella will help you understand the power of a dog’s love.
When Bella went off to college and had to put down her family’s cat for cancer, she started feeling depressed. She was sleeping for too long and lost the will to do much during the day.
She knew she had to snap out of it so she started volunteering at the animal shelter. That’s when she met Baloo.
Bella and Baloo had an instant connection so she decided to adopt him. Her life and emotional health turned around quickly:
- she started getting up early
- she was feeling better
- she was much more active
Baloo knew how to deal with her anxiety attacks ad she loved being needed. Their mutual love and care helped her deal with depression and improve her mental health.
5. A New Beginning With Buddy
Mental health issues are hard to confront, and even when we do, we don’t always find the solution. Kathryn Oda, a social worker who’s dedicated her entire education to learning about mental health issues and how to solve them, had troubles fighting her own depression and anxiety.
Luckily, when she stumbled upon the information that owning a dog can help reduce depression and anxiety, she got Buddy, her furry companion.
With Buddy, she finally realized the answer to her “decade long question of how to manage anxiety and depression”(HuffPost):
Dogs provide all three things and Buddy is the reason why Kathryn learned how to cope with her depression and overcome the obstacles along the way.
Dogs can seriously affect how you feel, not just today, but for all the days to come. Their positive impact on your mental health is priceless and it’s what makes them irreplaceable.
The inspiring stories above show you how mutual love and care for one another can help both humans and dogs thrive. If you’re struggling with depression, consider rescuing a dog as one of the steps in your recovery process.
Estelle Liotard is an enthusiastic freelance writer who uses the power of the written word to inspire, motivate, inform, and entertain. She covers all kinds of topics and content types, from light blog posts to some of the best essays. She also works as an editor at Trust My Paper and Grab My Essay.