Saving Each Other

September 12, 2011  

An abused pit bull finds a home, and her guardian gains a service dog

By Kimberley Kreutzer

There are many words that can be used to describe Sadie. If you go by the game played at most training schools and just stick with the first letter of her name, S, there’s superb, singular, stubborn and the most important, my savior. Sadie isn’t a mere pit bull – which we all know is in itself a misnomer, as the breed is such a loving, caring one and there are no “mere” pitties out there – and Sadie is not just a loving, caring pit bull: She is also my service dog. I have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and for my full diagnosis it’s the scary “severe complex PTSD.” I also fight bouts of major depression on top of being bipolar. Sadie has turned into a godsend even though I never imagined she would be a service dog when I got her.

Sadie came to me through Petfinder.org. I wanted to find a rescued dog that had suffered abuse. I found that in Sadie. When I brought her home, she was so scared she wouldn’t leave the front door for two days.

Eventually I coaxed her into coming over to me when I slept on the floor, and she came and curled up with me.

Still, she wouldn’t go out in the yard even when I carried her there, so we had about two and a half weeks of accidents in the house.

But she was my baby.

About a month and a half in I had my first PTSD-induced anxiety attack with Sadie in the house. Immediately she put her paws on my lap and started pawing my chest. I patted her head without really connecting to her. This wasn’t good enough. She continued to paw at me until I locked eyes with her and started to interact with her. This drew me out of my attack. After this I wondered what else she could do. I started researching on the Internet things she could do at home to help me. I decided to train her to alert me to take my meds since that was something I routinely forgot to do. We started on training immediately. It took about three months, but she now barks twice a day to tell me when to take my meds. She also gets me out of bed when my alarm goes off. She puts her paws on the bed and nudges me with her nose until I finally sit up. Without this there are some days I would lie in bed all day, and we both know it.

At the same time we started with socialization. She had already begun going out and had become friends with some of my friends, learning to trust a man and everything. We started slowly, but I knew she could do it. After she had completed her medical training and had stopped several anxiety attacks, I got her registered. When she has her vest on she has no fear. She walks through a crowded campus with me, though she loathes doing that without her vest, and she sits quietly in class and at work with me. She knows before I do that an anxiety attack is coming, and when she jumps on me in class or at work I know it is time for me to step out and take some time to play with her and connect with her because that will keep me from deteriorating into a full-blown anxiety attack.

My dog, who has a patch that says “PTSD dog” due to the fact that both her mom and her suffer from PTSD, is not only a survivor herself, but has greatly helped this survivor.

Without her I would still be afraid to go to the grocery store or to any other large, crowded area. Before Sadie I was crippled in places I could go; now, I walk into them with my head held high, without fear because I know that she will stop any and all bad thoughts or demons that try to work their way into my head. While the mall is still a place I do not go to, the one time I had to go Sadie bravely led the way even though we were both obviously terrified of it. She stopped me from freaking out, got me to do what I needed to do and got us out of there. I say she did it, because it wasn’t me – without her I would have continued to have stood there frozen in terror.

She is my savior, the love of my life. Without her I wouldn’t have survived the past four months after I was re-traumatized, but that’s a story for a different day. All that anyone needs to know is that Sadie is my lifesaver. She’s helping me heal and I like to think I’m helping her heal. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship even though I think I’m getting more out of it (though she gets more treats).

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Comments

6 Responses to “Saving Each Other”
  1. BurrowTKlown says:

    Thanks so much for publishing Sadie’s story. She’s the love of my life – it’s like 1000x better with her in it!

  2. StubbyDog says:

    @BurrowTKlown And thank you for sharing it with us all. The connection you two have is so special.

  3. DebbiLucas says:

    Beautiful story and so glad the two of you connected…sounds as if you both were meant for each other!!

  4. StubbyDog says:

    So many times we feel that, but in Sadie and Kimberley’s case it couldn’t be more true.

  5. AWESOME story…keep living life as a survivor

  6. BurrowTKlown says:

    @theprettychic Thanks for your support!