Category Archives: storytime
I have only grown up with dogs. First we had a cockapoo, Chester, who was probably the dumbest dog I have ever met (he used to burry pancakes in the dirt… or if he was inside, behind a chair). Then we had Chrisy, properly known as Lady Christmas given her birthday, who was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Chrisy was the smartest dog we ever had. She figured out that when people ring the doorbell, we answer the door. That’s a genius epiphany, even for a smart dog.
Our third dog was a black teacup poodle, Snack. His official AKC name was Lord Samuel Snackwell. I don’t know why we had such royal names for our dogs, but it is Pierce tradition. My only memories of Snack was that he was a nervous pee-er. If you yelled at him… puddle. However, his life was cut short by a tragic death. He had jumped off of our kitchen counter and broke his neck. And thus was the end of poor Snackwell.
Two years after the loss of Snack, Chrisy had the chance to be tortured by another puppy, Duchess Sydney Grace. Sydney is a miniature pinscher and was the scariest puppy I have ever experienced. She was so tiny (fit in your hand tiny) and had so much energy that I did not know how to play with her for a while or how to walk without stepping on her. She would run and growl until passing out. I thought she had narcolepsy for the longest time. Sydney was so crazy that we enrolled her in two obedience classes, canine good citizen, and then through therapy dog training. All in the name of getting control of this wild animal. Every dog in therapy training was a lab mix who only wanted to take naps.. and then there was Sydney bounding from wall to wall, excited to be breathing the same air as me. We finally made it through all of the training and she is a great dog now. I still wouldn’t recommend this breed to anyone. They are insane.
I know I have rambled about our past dogs, but Sydney is the dog I want to talk about. She is nine years old next month and has completely changed my life. We have an unexplainable connection from what we have gone through together. Or rather, what she’s helped me get through. I’ll explain.
I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in the fall when I was fourteen. I lost my ability to ride horses or play outside with my friends. I had to give up a lot. So at Christmas time, my parents gave me little Sydney. This cute little bundle of nuclear energy kept me from getting depressed about my lack of a social life. It was impossible not to be happy around her.
When I was seventeen, I started having episodes with my heart. I would get a racing heart rate and then chest pain. Like a heart attack, but backwards. I would be in and out of the ER weekly because I couldn’t stand the pain. Nothing seemed to slow my heart rate and there was no drug that could cure the pain. I would have these episodes three to four times a month, each needing a week of recovery afterwards. It was a wreck.
The whole time I had to barricade Sydney away from me because she wanted to get so close to me. I knew she could sense something was wrong and wanted to be near me. My chest was so sensitive from months of pain and all she wanted to do was sit on me! An extra twenty pounds was not anything I could handle.
One morning my mom came upstairs to see me and forgot to put the barricade up so Sydney quickly followed her. Sydney jumped on my bed and hurriedly laid on my chest. My mom and I tried to get her off of me, but she wouldn’t budge and that’s when I felt it happen. My heart was slowing. My dog was slowing my heart down.
Ever since then, I haven’t had an episode. When I feel like my heart is racing, Sydney is already close to me and knows what to do. She lays on my chest and my heart rate normalizes before the pain can start. I told my cardiologist this and he told me that there are medical journals (Sydney, of course, is now published) showing dogs doing miraculous things for their owners without any training.
Currently, Sydney is laying in a soft bed on my bed, heaving huge sighs that I haven’t turned off the light yet. She has no idea the impact she’s had on my life. Nor is she aware how she has inspired me to help others with their illnesses. Sydney is just annoyed we are not sleeping yet.