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A Christmas Love Story: How A Dog Became My Greatest Gift Ever

All good love stories start the same way…a brain injury and cold noses.

Get some hot cocoa and a snugly blanket and let me tell you all about the Christmas that my dog became the my greatest gift. For a little over a year, I had been battling the after-effects of a traumatic brain injury caused by a series of car accidents. Severe depression, nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger, and general grief had filled my days and nights. I knew I would never be the same again but I didn’t have a lot of hope that I would ever feel comfortable in my body again.

I Never Thought I’d be A Dog Person

My long-suffering husband and I did a lot of research on Dr. Google to find ways to alleviate the overall effects of the TBI. I had already started with medications to balance the hormones in my brain and I had counseling and brain therapy. What became apparent to both of us was that I needed a dog. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a dog person.

Puppy love to the rescue

Dogs have long been to help their owners with emotional support through companionship and affection. Retired greyhounds became our dog of choice for us due to their laid-back personality and the book, Comet’s Tale by Steven Wolf. They were docile, smart, and already trained.

All I want for Christmas

Each year for Christmas my Grandma gave each family a check for a family gift. In the past, we used the Christmas museum memberships, electronics, and family days-out but this year, we decided that our Christmas money would go towards our adoption fees. We found a program that matched retired racers with men in a county correctional facility in southern Colorado so we applied for a dog.

Quickly a phone interview followed with personal reference checks, and we became eligible for an adoptable retired greyhound. Due to jail security, we only had one day to go down to southern Colorado before the new year. My husband arranged for that day off from work and we headed off in a typical Colorado blizzard. I guess we were becoming dog people.

Snowing cats and dogs…

Likely most smart people would have cancelled the trip but I’m not one to trust the weather reports. As we hit Denver, the roads behind us were closing. We had nothing else to do but to continue to drive southward toward the county jail. Friends were starting to call us with their concerns but we traveled on and safely arrived within our two-hour time frame.

As we were escorted into to the jail’s waiting room, a cell check was called–all the men needed to be return to their cells to be counted. That meant the jail was on lock-down. After lock down was released, an employee fell in the parking lot and needed medical attention so lock-down was called again. My nerves were frayed and I felt trapped…the roads were closing, our cellphones were locked in the car, the jail was on lock-down, and we were never going to be able to leave. I will never need a scared-straight experience…I had one fateful day.

My dog my gift

This seemed like a good idea at the time.

After two hours, the tension began to fade and the adoptable dogs were brought out to us in groups of 5. Sitting in a jail’s waiting room, we had to make a decision about the future of our home and we only had 30 minutes. With all the cuteness and cuddles, we had to make our choice and my husband finally settled on a tall blond boy who had them most amazing eyes and a sweet spirit. He raced under the name W.W.’s Best Guy…we called him Guy. A large guard handed us his leash and escorted us to the door.

We weren’t expecting to leave with him that day. We thought we would come back later to pick him up but he was eligible for parole now. Unfortunately, the snow had turned to huge flakes as we loaded him in our car. Doubt filled us both…we had nothing at home for a dog.

Riding through the snow

As we drove very slowly northward the roads in front of us opened. The roads behind us began to close. Hence there was no way but forward. Through a series of frantic phone calls we got a list of what our newest family member needed…food, bedding, everything. Our kids didn’t believe we were bringing a dog home…neither did we. He huddled in the back of our SUV in our emergency blanket assessing his new parents…giving us sniffs and cute eyes.

Who rescued who?

As the blizzard raged, we arrived home shaken and stirred. Nobody knew what to expect…yet here we were. Thrown together by fate and a couple Goggle articles, we both hoped for a new life. He wanted a home and I needed to feel home in my head again. We were both starting new lives in the unknown. Similarly we were both tall and from Iowa. We both loved to run. I had never felt more connected to an animal in my life and more scared.

Guy and I have grown to be best friends. He loves the cuddles and I love his deep brown eyes that are always loving me. As he learned to be a family dog, Guy taught me to be comfortable in my new normal. And in the end, I became a dog person.

Earlier this year I told you all about how my dog has taught me to live. Read more HERE

Dawn Miller

Dawn is a small-town farm girl who married her mountain man after college. She's a mom of 4 amazing kids and 3 beautiful fur-babies. Having her degree in psychology and English, she pursued social work after college but soon became a SAHM and homeschool teacher. Now that her kids are all older and in high school or college, she has started over with a career in yoga and Christian meditation through Everyday Dawn Yoga. Beyond her family, she loves coffee, dark chocolate, running trails, Jesus, and laughing hysterically until she pees.

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