Dogs are the Best Medicine
| September 22nd, 2012

Meet Fig

FigThis submission is by Savannah, whose everyday Hero Dog is Fig, a Schnauzer – Poodle.

My Dog is My Hero Because…

I was never a dog person…  in fact whenever I would pass a furry, tail-wagging pup on the sidewalk, I would move as far to the right side of the sidewalk as possible without entering the poop mine of boulevard ominously lurking on the seemingly welcoming lawn of grass. Then I would hold my breath as the sopping pink tongue lapped fearfully close to my salty leg as I skirted by the stinky, hairy beast some inane human had the desire of domesticating.

I hesitate to say that as a child I was “different,” because who isn’t, right?  We all have our quirks and neuroses… but I guess some things bothered me a bit more than other people. …Smells, sounds, touch…  I hated when my mom brushed my hair, or when anyone tried to hold my hand.  Some things were harder from me…still are.  And I was the last to expect
that the little guy to make my interactions with the stinky, noisy, uncomfortable world around me a little bit easier would be one of the mangy little fur balls I had always been so wary of…  my dog Fig.

It was my mom’s idea to get a dog.  I was repulsed at the idea of sharing my clean, quiet, normal-smelling home with something that barked and made me sneeze, and most terrifyingly; didn’t wipe it’s tush after it went to the bathroom.  But my mom was dead set on the idea.  So in September of my junior year of college, we packed up my mom’s Subaru Forester and started the seven-hour drive to Minnesota to meet the newest member of the family.

When we walked into the living room of the breeder’s house after our long drive north from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, there were two puppies in the breeder’s lap.  One was content to be petted and snuggled, and the darker one kept jumping out and running around the room.  The dark little pup kept wandering into the dining room, under the kitchen table, and into the bathroom.  I have always thought of myself as having a bit of wanderlust, and immediately connected with this antsy
little dog. 

Fig was never a cuddler.  He still doesn’t like it when you pet him or pick him up, and would rather play Frisbee or go for a jog than work to gain your affections.  “This dog is just like me,” I thought.

It wasn’t long until I would sneak Fig out of his crate at night, after my mom was asleep, and let him jump in bed with me.  Somehow it didn’t bother me that Fig’s paws, that walked the streets of our neighborhood and dug holes in the dirt
rested on my comforter, or that his snout nudged up next to me as I slept.

After getting Fig, and becoming involved with strict methods of training and obedience, I looked into the breeding and training of service dogs. It wasn’t long before I realized that what many dogs were
bred and raised to do since birth, Fig had been doing for me all along.  I read about how veterans with PTSD were able to go out in public with the help of their service animals, or how kids with anxiety disorders could sleep at night with a puppy by their side.  We had adopted Fig thinking he could be a great therapy dog for someone else, when he was doing all those things for me without ever being asked.

There are things in my every day life that are still hard; sitting in a crowded lecture hall, or riding the bus to school can make me nervous and uncomfortable.  But going for walks, or getting coffee around the corner are little things in my life that are a lot easier now because I can bring my furry puppy with me.  Anxiety that kept me awake for hours before bed, is now gone and filled with time for grooming and play before Fig nudges up against me, lets his eyelids flutter shut, and without even knowing it, is better than any sleeping pill.

Thanks to my dog, I am happier, healthier, and fall more in love with life everyday.

And that is why Fig is my hero.

Learn more about the Hero Dog Awards.

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