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Sad dog

Randy took Andy for a walk the other day down our alley. As he’s walking the dog, he hears a group of kids playing basketball and yelling out court instructions in their back yard.

Just like it once was in our driveway.

To Randy, it immediately inspired memories of how Charles would go out and shoot hoops. By the way, he was a terrible basketball player. Much better at baseball. But he loved to get a game of friends together and play.

So Andy is pulling at his leash and Randy just undoes the leash and lets him go. The dog is so excited. Andy bounds up  all happy-go-lucky to the players and smells each of them.

Then Andy comes back to Randy, ears back, looking completely dejected. They were not the people he expected. They weren’t Charles. Or Charles’ peeps.

I swear that dog thought Charles would be playing on that court when he heard that familiar sound.

When I walked in from my errand, the dog is on the couch still looking depressed. And as Randy told the story, we both cried. Our dog does remember Charles and he misses him. Still. I really had no idea. I wonder if there are other things that trigger his memory. Like it does us.

Fast forward two days later. Randy is at a gas station. This youngish looking man is by the light pole outside the gas station as Randy is pumping gas. He sees the young man go in and the cashier yell at him. The young man leaves. Apparently just short of enough money to get something cold to drink on a hot day.

Randy goes over to give him a couple of dollars. After all, that is somebody’s son.  It could have been Charles at one time.

Right before Randy gets over there, he notices the young man is crying so asks him if everything is OK. The young man says animal control took his dog away four days ago. He had been on the street with that dog for four years and he loved that animal. It was all he had that mattered. He was broken. And lonely. The one thing that meant something to him was taken. All Randy could say was, “I’m so sorry. I know how much a dog can mean to a person.”

The story that had me in tears as Randy told it. I know the dog might have a better home. Maybe he was undernourished. But he had managed to keep the dog alive all that time. I don’t know all the circumstances but there is something that doesn’t feel right about their taking that dog. I know that dog loved that young man, too. He’ll feel the hurt of separation.

It reminded me of how much Andy meant to Charles. It reminded me of how Charles begged in middle school and I didn’t get him a dog and how guilty I feel about that now.  He really needed a dog. I didn’t understand why but now I do. We did get him a dog at fifteen and our pup slept every night with Charles until Charles got sent away. Not plan A. Not something we ever wanted to do.

Dogs offer so much unconditional love. No matter how many drugs you do, how poor your circumstances, or how many times you fail yourself or others, your dog loves you and is there for you.

We could all learn something from that.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

18 thoughts on “Sad dog”

  1. Thank you Anne for taking the time to listen to me I really appreciate it. It’s nice to have someone who listens and has compassion for people struggling with mental illness and intense feelings of suicide. I think what you are doing to help people who struggle with these issues courageous and I want to thank you for helping the people who need to be heard.

    1. You are so welcome. The number one thing I did after my own sons death was to learn all I could. And where I learned the most was from Those who so generously shared their stories of struggle with suicide. So I give back to thank all those who have helped me understand more. I appreciate you and your openness

  2. Thank you for sharing your story of Andy Charles beloved dog I’m sure he misses Charles a great deal they feel as intensely as we do which is why dogs are such amazing therapy for people struggling with mental illness my Dog Happy has kept me alive for 10 years she is the only reason I keep going I personally think she is the best therapist there is and puts humans so called “professional therapists” to shame. I do believe we will meet our greatest loves in life once again so I know Andy will see Charles again one day ❤️🙏❤️

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment. I am so glad you have had those years of joy and shared them with your dog Happy who has been treated with such love and kindness. I also wonder if your love of dogs could help organizations that place or train dogs. You have the empathy for it and it could be so helpful to humanity. In other words you’d be part of placing animals where they are needed. For at least the time you have left. I sense a purpose here is what I am saying. Would it make sense to give that a try?

      1. I understand that my friend ❤️ And I have spent my whole life wanting to help animals and giving them the love they deserve but at the very same time I feel like Happy is my life and beyond that I can not survive. I know so many people who have lost their dogs and given life to those dogs that need love but I confess I’m a one woman dog, Happy came into my life to save me but then I can’t continue without her it’s just the way it is my heart is hers and it always will be and as much as I admire people who give dogs the love they deserve I will always be a one woman dog and my dog is called Happy and just as any Mother without a child I will not continue she is my life and without her I have no life. I realise people continue in this situation and I admire them with all my heart! 🙏 but I am not that person I will not continue without her. She leaves and I am one step behind her. ❤️

          1. I won’t allow my life to precede her I will be one step behind her, if not one step in front 🙏 Thank you for listening to me I really appreciate it ❤️

            1. You are welcome. Thank you for helping me understand and ask questions. It is the generosity of those who struggle with these thoughts that have helped me understand. Do your parents know of your past attempts? I know you are 30 and I ask because a lot of parents do not know of past attempts and I wanted to understand your experience.

              1. I’m 41 now my dog Happy turned 10 last year. I live with my parents and they know of all my attempts they always find me and call for an ambulance. With my last overdose I begged them not to but I know they had to because they love me. But I’m never going back to that place, the ER is like purgatory for the mentally ill and the elderly you are mistreated and considered a waste of their time. So my next attempt I won’t be going to hospital. I’d rather die in my bed than be left on a hospital floor.

                1. Those of us who work in suicide prevention consider the ER a last resort. It is dehumanizing and lately so many have ended up waiting there in a paper gown for days which adds to the trauma. I’m so sorry this has been part of your experience but I know it’s simply that your parents had no idea what else to do and with the poisoning, it makes it more of a challenge. I always encourage someone to call poison control first because sometimes one can avoid that ER trip. A couple of years ago a friend of mine called me from a bridge in distress. I figured out where she was but knew about her recent experience with the police and I felt I had a better chance of connecting with her through our conversation than calling the police which would have added to her trauma and possibly put her more at risk. I just listened mostly and she decided not to jump. She had a time of it for several months after but she turned things around. EMDR therapy really helped her. She loves her dog, too. Adores the little fellow. That’s what reminded me of the story. Sorry to get your age wrong!

                  1. Thank you my friend for sharing your story about your friend. I’ll be honest after swallowing 200 paracetamol the paramedics left me in the waiting area instead of admitting me to the ER and I collapsed they didn’t think to consider me as an emergency so I was on the floor for hours before anyone helped me and even then when I was given a bed I tried to make my way to the toilet because I had asked so many times that I needed to go to the bathroom but no one listened so I attempted to make my way and I collapsed and then 3 or 4 nurses stood around me telling me in an a very aggressive manner that I needed to get up and that they wouldn’t help me because it was against protocol so I had to get up on my feet all by myself and I tried to explain while vomiting my guts up into a bowl that I had collapsed and I couldn’t get to my feet but they just stood there and insisted that I get up on my own and that they wouldn’t help me so I literally crawled to my bed and pulled myself up I’ve never felt so degraded in all my life and I refuse to ever go back there to the so called “professionals” that are there to help you?!! I realised I was nothing to them and they didn’t care wether I lived or died I would have been better off at home with my family that would clearly help me. But because of Covid you are sent off in an ambulance alone and you have no one to fight your corner before Covid my Mum would have helped me off the floor and told them “what the fuck are you doing?!” But now we are left puking on the hospital floor with zero empathy or compassion we are a waste of space in their eyes I don’t know if you have SIM in the States but it is a very barbaric legislation set in place in the U.K The SIM model is designed for people who are very unwell, and who most often come into contact with emergency services. Despite being at very high risk of self-harm and suicide, the SIM model instructs services that usually provide care in an emergency not to treat these people. This includes A&E, ambulance services, mental health services and the police. This also affects people under the SIM model if they want to access a diagnosis or treatment for physical health conditions. For example, they can be denied care for a chest X-ray, even if people with the same physical symptoms would usually be offered one.

                    SIM justifies this with the argument that these people’s behaviour is “attention seeking”, and places an “unnecessary financial burden” on the NHS. They claim that when service users under SIM receive care or treatment from the NHS, “high risk behaviours” (including self-harm and suicide) are “‘positively reinforced’ by 999 teams (meaning that it would encourage the patient to repeat the high risk behaviour).”
                    So I am essentially flagged up as someone who has tried to kill them selves on multiple occasions so all health care workers, paramedics, ER nurses, mental health care workers, police are notified that I am essentially a waste of time and we will get to you when we get to you, you are at the bottom of our list for help and intervention 🙄

                    1. Talk about stigmatizing! As wells as traumatizing. I have discussed with hospitals the importance of respectful care. But it’s where I found a lot of prejudice. It is changing. But obviously didn’t for you. I am sorry that was your experience. You did not deserve that. And for the education on your healthcare system. I am giving a talk in the fall to a UK based business on how companies can support mental health and prevent suicide. I wasn’t aware of the SIM model. Oh and if you want to reply. Start a new comment thread. Sometimes it runs out of space.

  3. Dear Anne,
    Dogs can help save the lives of people who are lonely or depressed.They are so perceptive and so loyal. I am sure Andy still misses Charles. When my husband Kevin died by suicide, our dog Ruby did not eat for three days. When I mention Kevin’s name, her ears still perk up. I have told you about the struggles we have had with my son, Brett. He lives in a rooming house in Chicago. But he walks two dogs everyday to earn money. Those two dogs love Brett and cheer him up every day. He knows they depend on him and they have helped relieve his depression. You and your husband are very kind and thoughtful people who help others everyday. Thank you.

  4. I’ve never had a pet like a dog though I have lived briefly with a cats. The kids had tons of hamsters over the years and I know I was very attached to them so I can only imagine Charles and Andy or anyone and their dog.

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