Although SHUG only adopts to homes in the U.S. and Canada, there are many Sighthound lovers around the world who share their homes and their hearts with these special dogs. As we know, letting a Sighthound into your life will change it in ways you can never imagine. Maria from Denmark tells how her life was touched by her Podenco, Sowensa . . .
It’s hard to fully explain how low I was before Sowensa. I had been a cutter, and spent a year and a half in a halfway house when I was a young woman. I've had suicidal thoughts many times. I had suffered from depression for more than 10 years.
Sowensa, a mini podenco mix, was found on the streets dirty, scared and very thin. When I got her on Jan. 25, 2009, she had NO idea how to be a dog. No barking, no sniffing, no playing, and she barely knew how to eat dog food. She had terrible diarrhea from stress. She had nightmares several times a day. She would growl if I tried to hug her. But if I left the room and she couldn't follow, she'd go into full panic mode. She followed me everywhere I went, but just didn't want me to touch her.
I took her to obedience training in August that year, and it's like something clicked in her. Working together like that boosted her confidence and she trusted me more, and after the second class, she jumped into the bed, cuddled up next to me and went to sleep. I was so stunned I didn't dare move!
I knew I had lost around 20 pounds from our walks and my fitness had improved, but I hadn't thought about how she affected my mood. Around nine months after I got her, the same people who did a home-check with me before approving me as an adopter, did a home-check with my sister before she adopted a dog from the same shelter in Spain. They commented on how healthy and happy Sowensa looked, but then one of them commented on me: "Your eyes are shining, and your smile looks true. Your smile was for show the last time we saw you.”
I realized I really was a lot happier than I had been for years and years. I'll always have a mental illness, but I'm not depressed and haven't been since I got Sowensa. I later got a second dog, Tinky, who is also wonderful.
I've fallen deeply in love with mini pod mixes! I'll have them for the rest of my life. They're so happy and playful and intelligent. Their high energy means I need to get up and exercise them enough, which makes me healthier, and their joy rubs off on me.
I realized I was no longer depressed, that I smile and laugh every day. I have more energy and don’t dread waking up every day. I hum and dance for no reason.
The dog I saved, saved me. Just by being her energetic, happy self, she cured my depression. And even on the bad days I still have, I’m never alone. Now, my two dogs are always right there to comfort me and cheer me up. Sowensa did more for me than any pills or therapy ever did.
My life would be empty without them.
Maria Brejner, the author, lives in Denmark. She got her dogs through this rescue: http://ace-charity.org/en/aboutace/history/.