Adopted Dog Brings Healing and Support

For Neal, a dog named Forever brought the hope, love and compassion he needed most.

Neal + Forever

In his struggle with depression and anxiety, Neal found healing in an unlikely source: a dog named Forever.

"She keeps me present, grateful, reminds me that I am loved and has never let me down. She is my magic pill when it comes to depression and anxiety. She is my truth when my brain starts to fill my head with untruths. She is the buffer that keeps me safe when I feel like everything is closing in."

Adopted Dog Forever

500 words will never be enough for me to accurately convey how my rescue dog, Forever, has changed my life. Honestly, five million words is probably not enough.

Forever’s story begins much in the same way as many other rescues. She was given up because she was “not good with people or other dogs.” Forever was then taken by Angels Among Us.

The world is filled with stories of fairy tale first meetings of people and their potential rescues. This is not one of those stories. Forever was so scared of men she would not come near me at all the first few times I met her while she was being fostered. I didn’t know she was “the one.” It took Forever weeks to warm up to me. She was so scared of me and pretty much everything in the world. Even the sound of my footsteps walking behind her while she was on a leash would scare her.

Adopted Dog Forever

If you saw us now, you would think I was making up that story of the scared dog who didn’t want to come near me. Today, we are inseparable. I bring Forever with me whenever I can, whether it’s the hardware store, a dog friendly restaurant, a doggie costume contest, trips, etc. She’s met some of the terminally ill children I volunteer with. She’s even been on Netflix during my episode of the reality make over show Queer Eye. Every day she reminds me that redemption is possible.

Adopted Dog Forever

The thing I haven’t told you is that I suffer from depression. The kind of depression that used to keep me in bed for days on end, that makes me feel totally isolated and shut off from the world, that removes all hope from my outlook. The kind of depression that makes me question the point of living. That is why having my dog has changed my life. On those dark days when I start to drift away, Forever is my anchor. When I wake up feeling alone and unloved, she is there sleeping next to me to remind me of what is real. She is the only reason I get out of bed when dark thoughts paralyze me. Sometimes all it takes are these momentary victories when it comes to fighting depression. She keeps me present, grateful, reminds me that I am loved and has never let me down. She is my magic pill when it comes to depression and anxiety. She is my truth when my brain starts to fill my head with untruths. She is the buffer that keeps me safe when I feel like everything is closing in.

Adopted Dog Forever

My dog will never pull me out of a lake and rescue me from drowning. She will never be the dog that takes a bullet meant for me. She will never rescue me in any fantastic way. She does something far less newsworthy, but equally as important. Forever rescues me daily in the most non-spectacular way possible just by being herself, a dog.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Neal won Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Alpharetta, Georgia a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.