Brock Marie + Hoxton

Athletic pup gives woman reason to play during the day and rest well at night

every gift saves lives

every gift saves lives

Brock + Hoxton

I never stopped being afraid of the boogeyman. So much so, that when we rebuilt the interior of our home two years ago, I refused to let our contractor put in closet doors. My bedroom closets are pleasant, well-lit little alcoves, where I can see all the way to the back. Even the shower stall has a transparent panel.

Fear of the dark is just one aspect of my anxiety disorder – an enemy which allies with my depression to make night-time the worst time. And, my housemate works the graveyard shift five days a week.

"When my beloved Chester, a 60-pound mutt who had become my baby, my best friend, died suddenly, I felt completely alone in the darkest hours of the night."

After four months, I stopped grieving long enough to realize I was lonely. No one could replace Chester, but the thought of making a new friend, training a new dog, getting involved again in canine sports, and even hearing the sound of squeaky toys excited me. I wouldn’t have to spend nights alone either.

At the Gulf Coast Humane Society, I walked to the back kennels where they kept the large dogs. I wasn’t looking for a guard dog – although I imagine any large canine with a throaty “woof” might make a criminal walk by. I wanted a tall, athletic pup to protect me from my own imagination. I found Hoxton.

Adopting a young dog in his adolescent phase got me moving again, something that’s vitally important for those of us who struggle daily with depression. His energy level is insane, so I’ve learned many new training tricks and calming rituals, feeding him using Kong puzzles and taking him to a free-play doggie daycare once a week.

Once Hoxton learned basic obedience, he could sleep in the “people bed.” He cuddles up beside me, his back pressed against my side. Occasionally, I’m awakened by a slobbery toy dropped on my face or a nose snuffling against my ear. Oddly enough this never frightens me, even when I see pointy white teeth coming at me in the darkness. There is only love in his cocoa-brown eyes.

Hoxton has his own nightmares. He transforms from a gregarious daytime dog to one who shivers with fear in his sleep, making eerie strangled-sounding yowls and moans and whimpers. I cluck my tongue whenever he begins to dream; it’s one of my training sounds for “pay attention.” He never fully wakes, but he immediately settles and sleeps quietly.

There will always be anxiety in my life, making everyday tasks that much more difficult. But with Hoxton, my big drooly angel whose teeth and claws could outmatch any boogeyman, I now rest easier at night. And hopefully, with me cuddled beside him, he rests easier too.

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 Brock Marie Moore won Gulf Coast Humane Society in Corpus Christi, Texas a 2016 Holiday Wishes award.