April 27th, 2015 I was blessed to have my very own Angel fall into my care (didn't know it then, was just bewildered why I burst into tears the moment I laid eyes on him lol) He came into my life on the heels of a miscarriage, trapped in a 9 year long abusive relationship, tired and ready to give up he gave me a breath of life, a reason to keep going. Our bond was undeniable, from a baby he's never been far from my side. Not everyone liked this, but I just didn't care. He was mine, I needed him and he needed me. He has saved my life time and time again; at 6 months old he saved me in the middle of a very violent physical attack, fought to get my exes hands off my neck. I had my first inclination of just how special this pup was.
Fast forward to 2016, when finally getting the courage to leave, with support from my family I went back to get my Daughter, Son, and Fur Son. With the chaos that was ensuing that day trying to get my children away from the evil place. The way the chips fell I walked away with only my Daughter and pup. The only time he never tried to run.. my skinny sad pup slinked out of the house and straight to Me, his eyes begging please save me. I look back on pictures from that time and its so sad. He clearly wasn't fed for the 4 days I was away, skinny and tired. I can't imagine what my ex put him through the days I was gone.
A lot has happened in between the psychological control my ex had over me for so long had spread over to my daughter and I have been without my Baby girl for a year and a half. My son as of recent has become victim to the control and so sadly I have lost him too. Everyday is a struggle. Living with PTSD anxiety and depression is a hard way to live, but it's what my path is to be at the moment. Some days are good. Some days are a nightmare, but my Angelo… he never gives up on me. He's my reason to get up everyday.
Recently, we were playing and running in the house, laughing and barking. I somehow ended up on the kitchen floor playing with him and became overwhelmed. On my knees, tears streaming unstoppably I started begging God to give me my Children back, to please keep them safe during this time apart, and to please not let them forget their mothers love...my sweet Angel pup put himself into my arms and started licking the tears away as they fell. So much love in that moment, I couldn't help but smile and hug him tighter. Dogs are never just dogs… they are man's best friend for a reason. My sweet Guardian Angelo I am forever grateful to have you by my side.
We went hiking the Kananaskis Lake Trail. Once we noticed the sun was starting to go down behind the mountains, we kept a closer eye on the time since I knew sunset was at 7:10pm MST. We quickened our pace because I think we both knew it was getting darker faster than it should have been at that time, but we didn't think we were in any danger quite yet. We couldn't see a path at all because it wasn't marked. We were relying on our dog, Lily, to sniff out the path and lead us to the rest of the trail. Without her we probably would have gotten lost. Since humans become utterly useless in the dark we were relying on Lily to let us know if she saw or smelled any danger. We finally made it out of the forest and made it a road. I don't know how far we went before we heard something in the bushes next us, something BIG. It stopped us in our tracks. We heard a lot of big sticks breaking as it moved. Lily immediately laid down, her signal that she sees something. We heard it stop and then start coming towards us. We couldn't see what it was so we just turned around and walked back. Our plan was ruined and it was still getting dark, we could barely see the road. Our only choice was to go back and develop a new plan. We then noticed the pay phone! We put in the coins and dialled our friend’s number to tell them the pickle we were in. The operator answered and told us "You need $2.50 to complete this call"... We didn't have an extra $2 in change that the payphone would accept. We begged them to let us make this call. I started freaking out at the operator while I was crying; telling him that it was pitch black and that this area is bad for bear attacks. The line went dead. After a moment it started ringing and then our friend picked up. We had never felt so relieved to hear their voice! Once again I started crying. We were still out in the open and we felt very vulnerable especially knowing there was something in the bushes not far from where we were. Once our friends had an idea of where we were, we headed to our only choice of shelter: a 3'x6' bathroom. We hunkered down for about two hours until we were rescued.
She was the reason we made it out of the mountains. It was pitch black and there was no marked path. We just let her pull us around hoping she could smell the way. As we were walking through the darkness I could just barely see her ears but I kept my eyes on them because if I heard something in the bushes, but she didn’t react, I knew it was nothing. She provided the comfort I needed to feel a bit safer and so I didn’t have a panic attack. I credit her with saving not just my life or my boyfriends; she saved my sons life too since literally the morning we did this hike we found out we were pregnant. We love her to bits!
As most people know about me, I suffer from server depression and anxiety. And after I lost Snoopy, I went I to a very dark place. I almost tried to commit suicide because I didn't know why I was alive and he wasn't. I didn't know how I was supposed to keep going when my world had ended. He had been my best friend for 11 years through some of the worst years of my life. I honestly didn't know if I would ever get another dog again. Purely because I didn't know if I could love another dog again.
Well. That day came in August. I went to a HART (Humane Animal Rescue Team) event where I was hoping to see this puppy I was very drawn to, Heidi (her name at the time). When I laid eyes on her, I cried. And it was like she knew me too. She wouldn't leave my side. I knew Snoopy had sent me to her. She was what I needed in my life. A week later, she was home with me.
In the months that I've had her, she's made me want to be healthier, have more fun, and explore more things. But she has also saved me twice so far. I have come home with intent and a plan and then all she does is wag her tail and rub against me, then jump up to pull me down into a hug and I know I'm loved. I'm needed. I have lost the guilt of leaving people behind, which is a scary place to be. Because if I didn't have her, or never found her, I really don't think I would've stayed here. She is what is keeping me fighting. I need to be a better person for her because she deserves it. She gives me the reason I need to work harder and keep going. She's my light.
People see Tonka and all the stereotypes of pitbulls flash before their eyes, simply by the way he looks they expect him to live up to each of them. With a backwards hat, piercings and being covered in tattoos I experience the same looks and stereotype; tough guy. Yet some days due to anxiety I can’t even make it down an aisle at a grocery store, if I’m able to get there at all. Like me the big scary rescue dog happens to be the most delicate of little creatures; his list of crippling fears is the only thing longer than the list of health issues, allergies and trips to the vet we have had over the past 4 years.
Tonka’s challenges challenge me. The acceptance, understanding and patience I have learned to have with him have helped me to have them in myself as well. If a big tough pitbull can cripple in fear from an over filled water-bowl made out of something shiny; I can avoid buying eggs at the grocery store because the aisle has too many people and can now accept it’s just one of those days. Tonka gets me out of bed in the morning and through most days just knowing he will be there when I get home. Petting his fur and laying on him calms an anxiety attack, while looking at pictures and watching videos of him on my phone get me through them when I’m away.