Wyatt: Man’s Best Friend, Among Other Things
TRIGGER WARNING: This piece contains details about suicidal thoughts.
In 2017, I came back from my last deployment to Iraq in a strange state. I didn’t want to be around people, and had had enough of them. That year, I suffered from PTSD and depression, and felt a bitterness towards the world and everyone living in it.
It was a long, hard year: Friends from the military were taking their lives because of the same issues I was having, and as if that weren’t enough, my long-term relationship fell apart. A deep loneliness began to envelop me, and I struggled to remember what pleasurable moods had been like.
I waffled between wanting to live and finding reasons to live, many times coming close to the same fate that had befell my fellow soldiers. After some months, I decided I didn't want to lose out to my demons, so I went looking for a dog. I always wanted a Doodle. I loved their personality and the love they exuded—and then, I could use an extra loving force in my life.
I found a breeder up in north Florida, who bred a single litter of Doodle pups once a year. He was particular about who he agreed to sell his pups to, and to determine if I was a fit, the breeder asked to meet me in person. I told him about my story—what I struggled with, the demons I faced, and my intentions for adopting a dog.
Many people might shut themselves off to vulnerability, but instead, the breeder invited me into his home. He taught me how to feed, train, and even shared what it would take to raise a puppy. His kindness alone gave me a spark of hope that there was a way out of my hardships, something I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
Finally, he introduced me to the pups, and from the litter, I handpicked a puppy named Wyatt. He liked to press his nose into the ground, and was sniffing around the perimeter of the pen when I met him. Unlike the other puppies, he wasn’t fighting for my attention—he lived in his own little world, and it was his curiosity and pure innocence that drew me to him.
I couldn’t believe how quickly my world shifted when Wyatt came into my life. Just by agreeing to potty train him and teach him how to sit, stay, and follow my lead, it quieted my demons and altered my focus into something worthwhile. And, over the months, my mental struggles began to recede into the background.
Wyatt’s energy and sheer happiness of being alive are contagious. The way he bolts straight towards the park as soon as I open the car door. How he manages to entertain himself with his squeaky pig toy, which he likes chasing across the room, or paper that he chews into shreds if he gets ahold of it. Or whenever he barks at other dogs to play whenever he sees them.
Wyatt has become my lap dog, a snuggle buddy, and walking partner all at once. He pulls me out of bed every morning. Mere workdays have become more exciting because he is with me, if not running zoomies in the warehouse. And on most days, he is by my side, lying next to my feet or requesting pets by pushing his head towards me.
Wherever I am, Wyatt is too. Even in pictures, where he always manages to squeeze his way in. He’s given me something to take care of, to nurture, which has helped pull me out from a dark place. I didn’t envision being around for this long, but since Wyatt’s come into my life, he’s become the reason that’s kept me here and taught me how to see life anew.
I plan on being here a long time with Wyatt, my Dood. While life will always have its ups and downs, I owe my peace of mind to him. I can no longer imagine life before Wyatt, and while having a dog is plenty of work and requires a lot of patience, I can say that it is well worth the effort. He saved my life.
Want to share your dog’s adoption story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us all about your four-legged family member and the impact they’ve made on you and your loved ones’ lives.