Having a pet can be challenging for anyone. However, the obstacles can be made harder if you have a disability. Regardless of any hardships you encounter the bond between Bailey and and I has made me feel love and connection. I have anxiety and situational depression. I have dealt with my anxiety and depression and I have felt what it has done to me while being a dog father. I have also felt the love and affection my dog gives me daily makes it all worth it. 

The Heightened Anxiety

Being responsible for another living being is never an easy task, but as a disabled dog dad the concerns are multiplied. When we are out for a walk she will sometimes run up a hill, start sniffing the ground and I’ll see she took something in her mouth. Because I’m so low to the ground I can’t see what she has just eaten. However, because of my anxiety I immediately feel my heart and mind start to race. I get tunnel vision. All I can think is “what has she eaten?” “Will she be ok?” I know I won’t be fully calmed down until the following day when I see that she is ok. When I’m constantly reminded of my own limitations these feelings exacerbate, and the worry of not being the best possible dog dad worsens. 

Calming Strategies in Moments of Anxiety

1. Deep Breathing Exercises: When i feel the pressure mounting, I stop and focus on my breath. I Inhale deeply through my nose and exhale slowly through my  mouth. I repeat this process until i feel calmer.

2. Self-Compassion: I remind myself that i am doing the best I can, and perfection is not the goal. My  love and dedication to dog are what truly matter.

3. Seek Support: Connecting with other disabled dog parents or reach out to friends and family helps. Sharing your thoughts and worries with others can provide comfort and lead to better solutions.

4. Focus on the Present: Anxiety often arises from concerns about the past or the future. I redirect my thoughts to the present moment and what I can control.

5. Mindfulness and Meditation: I Incorporate activities that help me  find inner peace and tranquility. Even a few minutes spent on mindfulness exercises or meditation can alleviate anxiety and stress.

The Moments That Bring Joy

Even in the midst of uncertainty, there will always be moments of happiness with my dog. When she is sleeping peacefully, it results in a deep sense of calm that washes over me. I love watching her. Her innocence and trust in me serves as a reminder that our bond is unbreakable. When we are playing fetch together, it provides a distraction from my worries and is an opportunity to simply enjoy each other’s company. These simple activities are a reminder of the true essence of being a dog dad: love, care, and companionship.

Being a disabled dog dad comes with unique challenges, but the love we share makes it all worthwhile. By embracing coping strategies to deal with anxiety and focusing on the precious moments with my dog, I  can rise above the difficulties and create unforgettable memories. It’s not about being the perfect dog dad but about being there for her in every way you can, with love in your heart.