I Got A Dog During Chemo, Here’s Why

I woke up this morning on this lovely snow-covered holiday weekend. Always a good start. I kissed my lady friend goodbye as she left early to go visit her friend in Connecticut and started about my morning. I started by going back to bed. I have the day off, sue me. Once I awoke once more, I made some breakfast, took a dump hoping it wouldn’t be too bloody (it wasn’t), then went into the living room to eat and watch the latest episode of Bob’s Burgers. Great show, would recommend.

As I ate and watched, my lovely young pup Meatloaf (named after the artist, not the food) decided to take the time to hack up some nice foamy yellow vomit because she hadn’t eaten her breakfast yet. She appears to be on some sort of hunger strike as of late in protest of the bargain food we give her so now I have to go spend more money for some fancy ass dog food which is dope cause I’m having a wedding soon but hey those are usually pretty cheap so I can totally splurge on nonsense like some fucking le cordon bleu dog food for this princess. But I love her and she has adorable little puppy eyes so I’m going to go get her some new food anyways. Besides, cleaning dog vomit out of a blanket is how I usually like to spend my mid-morning hours so really a win-win. Lil asshole dog.

My fiance and I adopted Miss Meatloaf in October in the time after I felt shitty from my brain radiation but before I felt shitty from my chemo. It was a fun little two weeks of half-normalcy and we had been wanting to start our little family for awhile, so the timing seemed right. My lady wanted to get a dog for the normal reasons: cause they’re cute as hell and she wanted something for us to take care of together. I wanted a dog for a much different reason.

Dogs are a special animal: they’ll love you, defend you, miss you when you’re gone, and annoy the ever loving shit out of you sometimes. But they’re always worth it. I hear kids are like that too. Wouldn’t know, don’t have any. That I know of right fellas?? Hehe! But I was interested in getting a dog because of my health. I was also worried about getting a dog because of my health but we’ll get to that later. I wanted to get Meatloaf because I was having trouble with anxiety, depression, and what I like to call broken spark plugs. That’s a condition I invented to describe the feeling of not having the motivation or energy to get out of bed in the morning that often times comes with depression and chemo. Here’s how my little furry ball of love helped with that:

  1. She distracted me from my anxiety. Have you ever tried petting a dog while having anxious thoughts? It’s really quite lovely. They’re soft and fluffy and they try to lick you and it helps to put a smile on your face and push out the bad thoughts. Whenever I would feel anxiety coming on I would go over and give her a hug and she would would try to cuddle back and it helped to put me at ease. I also like that when I spend hours a day alone in the house while my lady is at work, I’m not the only one there in case something happens. I realize she’s not exactly gonna dial 911 for me but maybe she’ll pull some Lassie shit and get someone’s attention just in case I fall in a well and change my name to lil Timmy.
  2. She gave me a reason to get up. Having a dog is a responsibility. They eat, drink piss, shit, exercise. Shit they need your help with to achieve unlike a fish, cat, or hamster. So I couldn’t lay in bed until 2pm anymore, I had to get up and let my dog out to pee, walk her at lunch, take her to the park when she was being rambunctious, feed her dinner, and generally chill with her all day. And that helped. Sitting in bed being depressed all day only leads to being more depressed. Getting outside and getting fresh air, being forced to talk to other people, having responsibilities, going for walks, those were the things that having a dog forced me to do that got me out of my moody slump.
  3. She’s always happy to see me. I know my lady friend is also always happy to see me (unless I did something idiotic and made her mad again) and I feel the same for her. But we don’t jump on each other when we get home and start licking each other’s faces the way Meatloaf does. If I leave the house for 5 minutes, she’ll be sad to watch me leave and over the moon when I get home. That kind of love and affection and reliance is special and makes me feel important. Even when I’m feeling like trash from chemo and I feel like dead weight because my fiance has to take care of me, the dog still treats me like she needs me to take care of her, and that feels good. One of the worst feelings from cancer in my opinion is feeling useless and like you’re an emotional drain on the people around you because you’re sick and can’t always take care of yourself. With the dog, it never really feels that way. She doesn’t know that there’s anything wrong with me, she just knows she needs me.

So I just gave a bunch of reasons why you should get a dog but there’s one thing I want to stress about why you may want to wait. Dogs are a huge responsibility and require consistent attention. So if you’re feeling particularly shitty one day and just can’t handle taking the dog outside or something, then that dog is gonna piss in your house or starve or something. If you’re going through treatment and you don’t feel 100% all the time, then you shouldn’t get a dog unless you have someone there who will take care of it when you’re not feeling well. If I didn’t have my fiance here to take care of the dog when I’m a noodle, then I couldn’t have a dog. It would be too much stress for me and it wouldn’t be fair to the dog. If you’re in the situation where you want a dog but may not be able to take care of it everyday, then maybe find a local park and be the creep who goes around petting everyone’s dog or something. Don’t get a dog you can’t handle though.


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