andrea and her family

Mercy was my support dog for recovery and two losses by suicide

by Andrea Giannini

My name is Andrea and I am an addict in recovery. My addictions were speed, narcotics, and alcohol. Because of my addictions, I’ve lost friends, significant others, housing, and my dignity. But since getting clean and sober, I have gained family, home, companions, and Mercy.

Andrea and Mercy

My mother gave me this rescue pitbull puppy which was named Angel. After realizing that the rescue dog rescued me, I renamed her Mercy.

Mercy came to me just 2 days after I became free from addiction

My clean/sober date is January 29, 2014, and I received Mercy on January 31, 2014. This dog was the comfort I needed to push through the emotions that came flooding back to me after hiding from them for so long.

Mercy was the strength I needed when I didn’t think I could walk, or even stand. Mercy had perfect timing, and I couldn’t have made it this long without her. You see, Mercy is not just the grace of God.

And not only has Mercy helped me through my recovery journey, she has been my rock through the hardest times of my life. Some would see the hardships I’ve endured and expect a relapse. But taking care of Mercy helped me realize that she needs a clean and sober Andrea.

Three years after becoming clean/sober, my brother, Joshua, died by suicide on March 29th, 2017 because he didn’t want to disappoint anyone with his addictions anymore.

Three weeks later, I had a bowel obstruction, which was so painful, the ER was begging me to take some narcotics because I was scaring the other patients with my screams. I finally agreed after 2 hours, and they said they’ll give me 5mg of morphine. I demanded they only give me half so they agreed to give me 2mg. Upon receiving the dose, I cried to myself because I felt I had failed Josh by not staying clean. However, I was able to kick drugs in the butt after that.

Four years after my brother passed, my mother, Diane, died by suicide on February 8th, 2021. She couldn’t take the pain of losing her son.

At this point, I have lost half of my immediate family to suicide

I am left with my sister, who is 15 years younger. My father and I weren’t always close, but he’s been a better parent as I’ve grown older, which is important because I need him.

My mother was my best friend. And Mercy became the last living legacy that she gave me. But not all legacies live forever. Mercy had survived cancer 3 times, but the fourth time took the breath out of her. After being misdiagnosed multiple times, a veterinarian found a mass in her salivary gland which he was certain would be safe to remove.

Upon further inspection with the biopsy on December 14, 2022, he discovered it was much larger than expected and she had 2-4 weeks of life left. So I medicated her enough to keep her comfortable.

When I became sober, one of the first things I did was enroll in college to become a photographer. Art has always been an escape outlet for me, but during my addiction, the talent and patience trickled away from my creative conceptual ability, and, thus, my art was depleted.

So photography became my art. I found that I am capable of manipulating light to my advantage in order to create the most unique and inspiring images. I also learned that in the portrait world, I prefer pet portraits over people portraits. So Mercy inadvertently became my mascot. And in turn, I named my business after her – Mercy of Light Photography.

As a photographer, I lost the spark of my passion and my light died after my mom passed. So I decided to hire a photographer to take hospice photos of Mercy. I posted on the friendly Nextdoor app about her, asking for photographers. I had many suggestions, but two photographers insisted on giving me a session for free.

In the weeks before Christmas, I had two sessions with the photographers. And on Christmas, I took Mercy to my dad’s house, where more pictures were taken. I wanted to make sure I made as many memories as I possibly could in the short amount of time we had left.

Lord, have Mercy on my soul

Around New Year’s 2023, Mercy stopped sleeping in my bed. So I started sleeping on the couch to be closer to her, and I started coming home on my lunch breaks to check on her. I requested January 6th-9th off work so I could spend her last remaining days with her.

On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, I left for work after my mini Mercy vacation, only to come home on my break to Mercy gasping for air. The cancer was suffocating her. So I informed my employer that I could not return that day and then I called the vet. My best friend joined me at the vet so I wouldn’t be alone, but at that point, I wanted my mom so much.

My heart ached so badly that I was on the floor with Mercy crying for my mommy. She was the one that gifted Mercy to me, she should have been there to see it through with me. My boyfriend soon joined the family and the 3 of us watched her transition off to the rainbow bridge.

The aftermath of her passing was like a tornado wreaking havoc on a small town

I had my 9-year clean/sober anniversary on January 29 without my support dog, and then I had the monsoon of loved ones-in-heaven birthdays and loss anniversaries in February and March. I had dealt with a lot in the past, but having to go through it without Mercy by my side, was the hardest thing I’ve had to endure.

I am still clean and sober to this day because I will not let Mercy’s legacy die in vain.

4 thoughts on “Mercy was my support dog for recovery and two losses by suicide”

  1. You are an amazing women. The pain you have felt comes back into the world from your heart as compassion for others, patients, understand and strength. You have a loving heart and are a gift to all the precious animals God is send to you to love and nurture.
    I am blessed you are my family. I love you forever❤️

  2. Andrea,

    What a beautiful tribute to your loved ones and to your strength.

    Your brother was so wonderful when we were going through it with Daniel. And your mom was an awesome person.
    I am sorry to hear of her passing.

    I will be praying for you and your sister.

    Teri Rafferty

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