Archive for » December, 2014 «

Interview for Women’s Health: Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Awhile back I had asked everyone on my facebook page to help me pick a photo and I know many were curious what it was for. 😉 So I wanted to share with you an interview I did for the month of November, National Family Caregiver month, regarding PTSD and being a caregiver.

Thank you WomensHealth.gov for the opportunity to share with others a small part of our lives in order to help others who live with or beside PTSD.

An Interview About Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Rebecca McCoy 

~Bec

 

A Christmas Dog Story: Updated

A Christmas Dog Story

(DON’T CRY or you will have me in tears! 😉 There’s a good ending to this… and it is about life with PTSD)

Okay, it’s that time of year again that I start flipping through my photos and putting up decorations. I cannot go without telling this story and how it is a huge part of my life living beside one with PTSD. We have been having huge discussions about a new pup for me… to join our family sometime this next year. I do still shed a tear every Christmas when I add Toby’s ornament to our tree (I’m looking at it lol, it will go on most likely today), but it wouldn’t be a tree without it. 

Please don’t cry over this story…or you will make me cry.  But you all are family and I want to share something with you that is beyond dear to my heart. For those who don’t understand what and how a dog can make a difference to your life or why they are so important to me, maybe this story will help you with that understanding.

“Toby”, also called “Toby-son” by myself, came into my life just before Christmas, now many years ago. He was a German Shepherd Dog/Husky mix who’s litter was placed in a cardboard box and left next to a dumpster in a nearby town at about a month old. I had been visiting the shelter every day, 3 times a day, for weeks looking for the right match to ME. Not as a service dog, but as my special pet, eventually my work partner.

A shelter worker, actually who I still contact to this day regarding abuse cases etc. talked to me one day and said “I need you here today at such and such time. We have a litter coming out and I think you will find what you are looking for.” Well, that day I was there and Karen helped me through the crowd of people when the pups came out and let me have first pick. OH there was no deciding! I pointed at Toby and said let’s take that one to the play-pen for testing. Sure enough Toby ended up being my match! That day I adopted a 10 week old puppy that changed my life and heart forever! (Dang it lol, I can’t write this without that tear. Oh my heart dog.)

Toby was different than other dogs of my past, he was a true handful lol! As a pup he challenged me every step of the way! I decided to socialize him through classes with other dogs…which ended up being our “escape” from reality so to speak. I put my everything into him, and he did the same for me. See, I ended up going through a nasty divorce (no worries he and I are on good terms now  ) back before Craig and I got back together… Toby was my rock, my strength, my everything. He was the one that kept me solid on my feet and taught me how to be strong. See, dogs don’t judge, they love! The emotional stress I had gone through was overwhelming…but there Toby was, always faithfully by my side wagging that tail looking at me like “Mom what next?”.

Then Craig came back into my life  Yes, there were strict grounds lol. To accept me, I come with baggage that must be accepted too! He thought I was talking about my kiddos hehe. I told him, “No silly, my dog! I know you accept my kids.” I think he was kind of shocked lol! But to say the least we got back together…which meant he accepted Toby. 

Toby brought a whole new meaning regarding dogs to Craig. Craig was not really a dog person before Toby, and dog hair haha drove him crazy! But he fell in love with Toby. Everyone loved Toby…how could they not! He was a well rounded, all around type of dog from obedience, manners, tasks, tracking, games with the kids, oh the tricks lol, and most of all…watching after me. We NEVER had a problem finding a pet sitter either lol, everyone loved staying with Toby and all of the cool tricks he could do. Favorite party trick was “Toby, get me a beer” lol of course! Or the “Bang! Dead dog” Toby would drop to the floor but keep his tail wagging. Then I would place my hands on my hips and say, “Dead dogs don’t wag their tails.” His tail would drop to the floor and never even flinch. Then he would wait for the “Good boy” command and jump into my arms lol!

When Craig became a disabled Veteran we headed back to Florida where we grew up. I started my dog pet training business up again since we were finally able to plant some roots, so we thought (but that’s another story for another day). I became involved with some rescues and local people, so rescues in and out of the home became a new part of life, hard at times to let go and some stayed, but a part of life. And I started working with and training service dogs.

See, Toby was still around when Craig’s medical became REALLY bad. My anxiety at one time was so bad that I had passed out and during the fall my head went through the sheet-rock of the wall. I sustained a concussion and had amnesia for several weeks. I didn’t recall it at the time but after the fact once the memories start coming back to me, I remembered that when I came to, who do you think was there licking my face? You guessed it, my Toby-Son. Over time as I learned about what was happening with Craig, and that this was not just him but PTSD and other disabilities, I was able to get a firm grip on myself. My therapy through the rough years? My dog! 

Again, Toby was not a service dog of any sorts but he was the best therapy a person could have. He really was what saved me during the rough years. He and I spent hours every day together working on his training and keeping his skills up, he was my lead dog for my training business, we took long walks, and you would always find him laying at my feet just waiting for whatever came next. He traveled from one coast to the other, and back again by my side…yes we stopped at every state sign and took pictures too. 

Anyway, at almost 10 years old my dear Toby fell ill. Mysteriously, right after Craig started getting treatment for PTSD, I swear to this day Toby knew I would be okay at that point. Test after test was done, he was on IV drips at home, and was having seizures extremely bad. He was like a light switch…one second he was on the ground and couldn’t get up, the next he seemed fine and sitting by me waiting for a command, then it would change again. One day he was extreme, I called his vet and she came rushing to our home. Toby passed away that day laying in my lap. (Yup, there’s a tear).

My dearest friend was gone. I never had an animal so close to me as he was. My heart and soul shattered. I took a long break from training and was also having to take care of Craig. My rescues were never the same after that day, they mourned him as much as I did. I still get choked up every year as I place his ornament on the tree…I actually get teased in a loving way now…they say “Everyone leave the room, mom has Toby’s ornament in her hand.” Lol. Yes, today I can smile along with that random tear.

See, I believe that Toby IS my Angel with four legs and wings that looks after me, just as he always did. Several years ago now Craig and I found this little shelter dog that we adopted to be Craig’s service dog (which I trained him for the job but Craig only uses him at home). Well, Alex is the spitting image of my Toby…just a different color and a little extra spunk in his step! Alex somehow has filled a deep gap, space, in my heart and some of the footsteps Toby once stood in… even though Alex is in reality Craig’s dog and bonded to him.

This Christmas season I do not weep as I have in the past, I smile and thank Toby for the path he lead me down, the self-help he taught me, the love and bond he brought to my heart, and for bringing Alex into our lives! But, even more than that, this is the first time since Toby’s passing seven years ago, that I myself have been ready for MY own dog again. I have ENJOYED looking at different breeds, figuring out what I want next (which I’m pretty sure will be a German Shepherd Dog), and have that lit fire back in my heart, eager for an addition to our family to come this next year… And training “him”! In a way, this new pup to come is me taking a part of my life back, with a step forward.

You know, sometimes it does take a long time to mend, so to speak, from what you have been through, it does not mean you will ever forget, it does not mean those feelings and thoughts will go away, but it also does not mean that there’s not a step forward. Those steps forward are there, embrace them when they come, work towards them, and never give up.

 Love, Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD