While I have been quite vocal about my struggle with PTSD following a break-in and attack, I haven’t mentioned one of the most surprising changes in my life since last October. I have fur children now. They came with the boyfriend, and I was not at all sure about having dogs. I’m almost certainly destined to be a cat lady. I have a library. I like cardigans. I know how to knit. I’m their kind!
But Odin, this giant German Shepherd who’s almost my height when he jumps up, began guarding me when he met me. I didn’t know that’s what he was doing, but he laid in front of the doors of the rooms I was in. And then he laid in front of the spots I sat down in. And he slept on my side of the room between me and the door. All of that was enough to endear him to me, whether or not I ever showed affection like normal dog people. You know who you are, baby-talking, pet-cuddling dog lovers.
My significant other knew I was a lost cause when he found me cuddled around Odin, using him for a giant pillow because he’d taken up post, guarding me again. What I didn’t know is that Odin had been alerting my boyfriend when I was having panic attacks. (I frequently hide away where I feel safe and where my children won’t see me falling apart.) And Odin nudges and yips at my boyfriend, shepherding him to where I am, when I have panic attacks. He’s not a medical dog. He’s not been trained. He’s just one smart, caring creature. And he’s making me feel safer and cared for, even though I was deeply skeptical. So, naturally, he got his own poem.
My reluctant, four-legged guardian watches over me,
my own foo dog at the steps of the temple.
He’s certain I’m terrible at protecting myself.
he’s at my bedside,
then nosing me down the stairs,
shepherding me to the rest.
I can tell he thinks I don’t know how to belong to a pack.
And I didn’t ask for a guardian,
but I feel the weight of his judgment.
“Look, Odin, I only just had a pack choose me back.”
He chuffs, sure that my brain is broken,
because he doesn’t know about hearts.
But his presence is something I can bet on,
his waiting by the window is sure
…when I have gotten used to everyone leaving.