Helping Depressed People

I’ve been wanting to help people who are suffering from depression.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been there myself, and maybe it’s just because I’ve always wanted to be helpful since I was a little girl.  Regardless, it’s funny how Law of Attraction matches us up with the people we are looking for.  And it’s funny how it happens in the most unexpected ways.

I visited a home to evaluate a dog recently.  The dog was biting the 8-year-old boy continuously.  He was very attached to her and clung to her, but the mother was stressed out and also feared for any visitors to the house.  Apparently the dog had been showing aggression to everybody.

When I got there, I saw a little dog who was absolutely horrified by her own lack of power.  The boy was handling her like she was a stuffed animal and she just couldn’t take it.  When I asked him, “Do you think she likes it when you carry her like that?” he said, “No.”  But even though I explained to him that the dog was trying to communicate to him, and that his failure to read her body language forced her to step up her communication by biting him, the boy really didn’t think he could slow down enough to change what he was doing.  In short, he didn’t speak Dog and she didn’t speak Human.  He loved her intensely but couldn’t see things from her point of view.

I gave him a lesson in canine body language and a few exercises to do.  The mother could not afford much in the way of dog training, so we left it at that.  But I was about 99% sure that the problem would get worse, because without consistent instruction, the boy was bound to lapse into his old ways again.  He just didn’t have enough new information to replace his well-worn habits.

About a week later, I got a call from the mother, who said that the dog was now biting the maid.  I got the impression that the dog had now bitten almost everyone in the house.  The bites were getting more frequent.  Since the mother is disabled and rarely leaves the house, she asked me to come and pick up the dog and return it to the shelter.

When I arrived, I told the kid that the dog had to go to dog school to learn some better manners, but also that he had to go to kid school to learn how to read canine body language and safe ways to handle a dog.  He started shrieking, “I don’t care!!  I don’t care if she bites me!!  Nobody’s taking my dog!”  During this time, he called his mother a lot of terrible names, accused her of wanting to ruin his life, and threatened to throw himself in front of a car and kill himself.

To cut to the chase, the dog is now at my house, safe and sound, getting evaluated in a different environment.  She doesn’t bite at all now that she gets the respect and gentle affection that she needs.  In fact, she has proven to be a delightful little dog.

The reason that I started this tale with my own desire to help depressives is that I had to spend some time comforting the mother, who was beside herself with grief not only because she had to have the dog removed, but also because her son was threatening to kill himself.  She was particularly vulnerable to that kind of threat because her grandfather had killed himself.  And the kid wasn’t purely manipulative – he was genuinely in pain.

As a person who has been on the lower rungs of depression, I understood.  There aren’t any platitudes that take away scars like those.  So, while getting the dog crated and ready for the car ride, I listened to the mother, gave her lots of hugs, and provided a safe place for her while she released and regained her balance.

She said, “I’m so glad you came into our lives.”

And I felt good.

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