Introducing Edgar Allan Poe the German Shepherd.
When I think about sharing with you my story, it seems fitting to first introduce you to this handsome canine of mine.
Edgar Allan Poe the German Shepherd joined me, and made us a duo, in February of 2013. At just 6 weeks old he had quite a bit of pressure resting on his then very little shoulders!
You see, I have a confession to make. When I made the decision to get a puppy. My decision was pure logic.
I had been making some progress in fighting my Agoraphobia in the summer of 2012. I had moved out of the family home into a flat, and I was making an effort to make sure by doing so, I was not just creating a ‘bigger prison’ to shut myself off from the world in. I had to push myself to go out more. A terrifying prospect. Any time I left the safety of my four walls, my anxiety would go to levels unmeasured. I felt my throat was closing up, I would feel I couldn’t breathe. My body would begin to shake. My senses would go into overdrive. I couldn’t move. I would be stuck in that moment, in that state of mind, for hours. All from leaving my bedroom.
However, a realisation had come to mind. My sister, Emma, has four children. When I was responsible for one of my nephews or nieces, I could just about cope. I could control my anxiety and fear by being the ‘grown up’, the one who is to take care of someone less capable. To hold their hand and guide them in the world without fear.
Now having children was not an option for me. A pet however, in theory, a pet could work.
I had two things I wanted. One, I wanted to be able to leave the house and keep some sense of calm in my mind. Having a puppy would present me with the role of ‘carer’, so I would need to work harder to keep calm and sane for this little being. Two, I needed the motivation to leave my safe house. See, it was all very well telling myself I need to go out but at the time I had completely isolated myself from friends, from my hobbies. I had no ‘excuses’ to go out. No motivation. My family were acting as my carers I couldn’t give them the added work of being my friend as well! A puppy would need walking. There was my motivation.
My decision was made pretty quickly. That comes with the Asperger’s I believe! You get a theory, you run with it until it’s proven correct…or incorrect. Telling my family my bright idea, and getting them on the same page, was a little more difficult in a hundred different ways.
I had spent my entire life petrified of dogs for one thing. When I say petrified, I mean petrified. I wouldn’t go near a park, on a beach, on a walk where there would be the risk of a dog off of it’s lead. If I were to cross paths with one on a lead, I would keep a fair distance from them. Once, I climbed up a woman and grabbed hold of her earrings for my life when a terrier ran my way. Petrified is the word. Trust me.
Yet there I was, in October 2012, telling the parentals I have a theory that a puppy may prove useful to my problems. Laughter was a reaction. Then I distinctly remember a couple of swear words from my dad. Looking back I believe he got a little angry at this conversation due to the fact he knows me so well. This little idea I came up with, something I ‘just wanted to share’, it wasn’t going to be just an idea for much longer. I had decided that was the way to go. A puppy was going to be joining the Thompson’s soon… My dad knew, and it was going to go either two ways.
I was in a bad state of mind as this all began. Another worry. I was, in a sense, like someone grasping at straws with oven mitts on. I was trying to find anything that would make me want stay a little longer on this earth. My parents knew this. I was asked ‘and what if you do decide to kill yourself Lucy? We will be stuck with this puppy shall we just get rid of it?’. It’s not that my family don’t like dogs. They do. They just didn’t want one. I don’t think I helped my case much when, in my usual unfiltered tone, I replied, ‘Well I don’t care. I’ll be dead’. Again I remind you. The decision making on getting this puppy was purely logical.
I was given two tests. One, to go across the road and enter our neighbours house, which had two dogs inside, and walk in without having a panic attack. I was to sit and interact with them to prove my fear of dogs wasn’t going to be an issue. Two, to leave the house at any opportunity given. I did both. The second with great difficulty. The first, with a surprising sense of calm.
By December, operation puppy was in progress! My mom was really supportive of the idea, I had shown her many case studies I’d read on dogs helping those with Autism or anxieties and I was by that time a expert, in theory, on the canines. Dog breeds, dog care, dog health and anything else related to life with a dog I could tell you in a detailed analysis. A bonus of having Autism is once you’ve gained the interest, that interest is yours for the taking! It was time to put my research into action. My dad still a little hesitant yet supportive.
I decided, after many hours of speculating, that the breed for me would the German Shepherd. The day before New Year’s Eve 2012 we went and met the breeder, and there we met two litters of German Shepherd puppies. One was a litter of a week old pups, they were still so young though I only got a sneak peek at them before we went to see the litter ready for homes in a couple of weeks. Then and there the realisation hit me… All puppies are adorable. My calculations on how to choose the perfect puppy for me had gone right out the window. The only thing I knew for certain was that I wanted a male. Research had shown me they bond closer to their owners if owner and dog are of opposite sex. See? I told you I was logical.
The puppies still needing homes in this older litter were all female, but I met three boys in the previous litter, so we made a plan to come back in a few weeks and I had first choice of the males for then.
The days dragged. I was becoming horribly wound up waiting for the day to go choose my little experiment. The birth of my youngest niece Pixie helped break the days up a little… but not enough! Finally we received a phonecall from the breeder, the time had arrived and we were able to go visit the litter to choose my boy. She was happy to tell us the puppies would be ready for their homes! At six weeks they were weaned off their mothers milk and were eating solid puppy food. I was ecstatic. I had the dog bed, the dog bowls, a couple of toys all ready for him. This was the night. That night I was bringing my puppy home.
I remember vividly the moment that the breeder let all the puppies run out to me. As I stood in front of their pen, they all came running to me in such an excited manner I felt overwhelmed. My mind went blank. My logic had long left me. I was on my own. I had to go with my instinct.
The three males were pointed out, I remember kneeling down and two of them jumping straight onto my lap and chewing on my hoody. Licking my hands. Having a little nibble on my fingers. I wanted to take them both home. How could I possibly choose? Alas I then heard the breeder rather frustratedly exclaim ‘No you don’t do that you know that!’ I looked and she was running to the biggest puppy of the litter. He was trying to get to the food! I asked her if it was a male and she confirmed he was indeed. I don’t know how or why but I knew he was special…
She passed him to me and immediately he looked at my face, as though he was studying it, then into my eyes. Laying his head comfortably on my chest and closing his eyes I hugged him. From that moment on, it’s been me and Edgar.
Logic brought me Edgar, but Edgar brought me love, humanity, understanding and friendship. He’s made me feel brave enough to enter the world of humans.
This is why I introduce you to Edgar Allan Poe the German Shepherd. My lifeline.