Adopted Puppy Helps Mom on the Path to Recovery

With Opal by her side, Amanda is taking steps to lead a healthy life.

Amanda + Opal Jane

An inpatient rehab program was the important first step in Amanda’s recovery. Now Opal is helping her stay on the path to a healthy, happy life.

"It was New Year’s Eve and Opal and I lay on our couch snuggled up together. She slept for three days straight in our arms. For the first time in a long time, I felt I had a purpose."

In October 2018, I made a decision that would save my life. I checked into a 30-day inpatient rehab program to help me get sober. I had been abusing drugs for 10 years and I was at my lowest. I had two wonderful boys who would rather spend time at grandma’s and a husband who was frustrated, tired and scared… this wasn’t the life I had always imagined.

I left rehab with crippling anxiety. I could barely care for myself; I was paralyzed with fear that any wrong move would cause me to relapse. After two months at home, I decided I needed a companion… something to care for. Since I have the opposite of a green thumb, the next logical choice was a rescue dog. My husband was skeptical — if I couldn’t take care of myself, how would I manage a dog? He was convinced he would be the sole caretaker for the dog, and he didn’t have time for that.

I don’t know how, but I managed to get him to the rescue organization I had heard so much about: One Tail at a Time. They had a little girl puppy who had been an owner surrender and had been adopted and returned to animal control twice. She wasn’t a fan of other dogs and she has some sinus issues… but other than that, she’s perfect. When my husband saw the immediate connection I had with her, he agreed: she belonged at home with us.

Opal Jane was exhausted when we brought her home. She was scared of rejection, she had kennel cough, and she had been living in a rescue where the presence of the other dogs stressed her out. It was New Year’s Eve and Opal and I lay on our couch snuggled up together. She slept for three days straight in our arms… begrudgingly getting up only to eat and potty. For the first time in a long time, I felt I had a purpose. This little girl needed me.

Just walking outside my house to take her to go potty was a huge deal for me… and soon I began taking Opal on walks around the neighborhood. I became invested in her. I was so proud when she listened to me and followed my commands.

But as much as I was caring for her, she was caring for me. Two weeks after bringing her home I realized I was no longer having night terrors — I was sleeping through the night. My husband noticed that every night, Opal would crawl in bed with me, and when I would show signs of distress in my sleep, she would nuzzle closer and I’d calm down. When I would do therapy work, she lay in my lap. When I had to undergo a major procedure without the help of pain medicine, Opal lay at my side while I recovered. The path to recovery is a challenge… but with my girl, I know we can get through it together.

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 Amanda won One Tail at a Time in Chicago, Illinois a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.