My four-legged therapist

Every day, our family dog comes into my office. I call it my office, but it’s an extra bedroom where we’ve set up a desk and my large-screen monitors and I’m able to work remotely in relative peace and quiet. I like to think that Nittany, our 13-year-old Lhasa Apso – Bichon Frise, comes in because she misses me, but I know better. She comes in, because she wants to go outside.

I’m glad that she comes and gets me, so she can do her business and not do it inside the house, but I’ve spoiled her. In recent weeks, I’ve been making myself a quick lunch and sitting on the porch with her. She lays out in the sun and guards the property from any troublesome squirrels or rabbits, and I get to take a break from whatever fire or emergency has erupted at work.

The chill-out sessions started out as a quick five- or ten-minute break. Over time, especially since the fall temperatures have been so mild, the sessions have lasted upwards to an hour. On these days, I’ve grabbed a leash and taken her for a short walk or even gone to the backyard so that she can sniff to her hearts content and give the squirrels a run for their money.

Sorry I’m late

While it’s been great for Nittany, it hasn’t always been great for me. Some of us still have work obligations. I’ll inevitably jump onto my next call and have to apologize for my tardiness. I’ll say something like, “Phew, these back-to-back meeting days are a killer.” So far, no one has been the wiser, but I’m bound to get caught.

Of course this week, all bets have been off. I’ve been running the past two days and haven’t had the time to take an extended break and Nittany has looked back at me with the saddest eyes. They plead for a little attention.

Guilty as charged

I felt so guilt today that I couldn’t take it anymore and I yelled back, “Okay, okay, let’s go, but we don’t have much time.” I doubt she understood anything I said, but she sure as heck understood me getting up out of my seat. I closed my laptop and we went outside and sat together. I rubbed her ears and she chilled out, watching the leaves fly across the yard.

As I sat with her, I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was looking up at me to check on me, to make sure I was doing okay. Some people have dogs who fetch tennis balls or even perform tricks like playing dead. I’m convinced that my dog serves as my very own Mental Health Coach, urging me to take better care of myself.

Now that’s man’s best friend, the family pet and a health care counselor all wrapped in one. 

24 thoughts on “My four-legged therapist

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  1. Love this: “I rubbed her ears and she chilled out, watching the leaves fly across the yard.” I believe you’re right…furry ones can be the very best counselor/coach/therapists…so sweet. Thanks, Brian! 😉

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  2. Nittany is gorgeous. What a wonderful four-legged friend you have, Brian. Where does her name come from – it’s unusual. How old is she and how long has she been your therapy dog (for want of a better description)? I love those soulful eyes and can see why she can twist you around her little paw.

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    1. Ellie, I graduated from Penn State University – a college in Pennsylvania. The school’s mascot is a Nittany Lion, named for nearby Mount Nittany, which is a Native American word meaning single mountain. When we got her years ago, the kids picked the dog, I got to name her. I liked that it was different. Just as you mentioned, she’s a lil bugger, but has us wrapped around her paws!

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  3. I’m a recent follower of your blog Brian and I’m curious about her name Nittany. Does this mean you’re a Big Ten/Penn State fanatic? We’ve lived in Michigan for the last 30 years but grew up in Iowa and still consider the Iowa Hawkeyes-the bomb. BTW, she’s adorable…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, ha, good catch Neese! Yes, I grew up in Central Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State. Iowa – Michigan games must be challenging in your home. Ha, ha! When we went searching for a dog years ago, the kids got to pick the dog, I got “naming rights.” She’s a lil beggar, but, yes, very adorable. Thanks for commenting and stopping by Neese!

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  4. I can hardly recall a time when we didn’t have at least one dog, and I loved them all. Foster, a mixed-breed pup who crawled out from under a trailer in rural Georgia and right into our hearts is currently the pooch-in-charge. And thus far, I’ve managed to work him into two novels. But that’s not his most important job. He’s also our blood pressure medicine. All he has to do is lie down on the couch next to us, and whatever tension we had automatically dissolves.

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