Stella: The Dog That Saved My Life

I don’t like to tell this story. It’s very personal and brings up a lot of very strong feelings. But, because it is Pet Month here on, I thought I would share this story about a dog named Stella and how she helped me stay afloat during the hardest six months of my life. The anecdote is meant to convey the importance that animals can play in our support and self-care. I hope that you get something out of it.

I was in a marriage that was having troubles to say the least. My ex-wife decided one day that we should have a dog and showed me a picture of this dog that looked like some kind of beagle or something, on a rescue site. I immediately said no. I knew that I would be stuck caring for the dog and I didn’t want that responsibility. My ex-wife and I were well on our way to a divorce and I didn’t want the added stress of caring for an animal. I was having mental health problems, physical problems (IBS, gastritis and ulcers) and we had two children to care for. True to my ex’s nature, there was a 25 pound, beat up, shell of a dog in my living room one day when I arrived home from work. Her name was Stella.

Stella and I were bonded for life

So, I had a dog. Over the next three months, I walked the dog, I fed the dog, I cleaned up after her and I fell in love with her. After Stella was with us for a while, there stood a 65 pound, Pit Bull Terrier. She was great with the kids, she was funny and she loved to play. She also didn’t care for other animals one bit. One night, when I was walking her, she got out of her leash (man, that dog was strong) and chased a possum straight into the river by my house. In the pitch black, dark of night, I found myself sliding down a fifteen foot bank of mud into the river to find her. She was drowning. I swam out to get her and put her back on shore. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get the two of us up this steep hill and decided to give her a good toss so that I could get her up to the top first. This worked and I started climbing, grabbing at trees to help me pull my way up. I was half way up the hill when I heard something below me. Stella had come down to save ME. I found a way to get the two of us, soaking wet and cold up to the top of embankment. We were bonded for life after this.

I had to give up Stella

Within a few months, my wife left and took the kids, I lost my job and I lost my savings. I was sick in stomach and in mind. Stella was with me through these dark days, when I was lost in my house, hopeless and afraid. Her love kept me connected to the real world and made me feel useful and necessary. When my house was foreclosed on, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to keep Stella. I was crushed, but found someone to take her in. The day before I moved into my new place, the person backed out and I was left to take Stella to the SPCA. After telling me that they were going to have to put her down, one of the technicians came out and told me that they found the chip that the rescue agency had put on Stella and that they would be able to get her back to that rescue, where it was much more likely that she would find a home. Forever, I will believe that she found a good home. She certainly deserves it.

While this story is not the most pleasant, the point is that this animal, this sweet animal supported me when I needed support the most. This is how important a pet can play in any type of recovery scenario. I will always love Stella and I hope you can find that love with your pet as well. Miss you, girl. Thanks for letting me share.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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