Doggie Disaster

September 13th 2016

By Katy, 21 - OCD Youth Blogger: Katy battled with OCD and an eating disorder for most of her life. She became reclusive for four years before eventually getting treatment. Now, she writes books and articles that share her story of recovery in the hope she can help others going through the same thing. She’s also training to be a dog specialist and plans to one day own her own rescue centre.

I have been a dog lover for as long as I can remember. Every Christmas I prayed I’d open a box with a puppy inside, I couldn’t walk past a dog without stopping to stroke it and at a friend’s birthday party I spent the entire time sat inside playing with her dog. So, when aged seventeen, my parents finally said I could get a dog I was so happy I could have exploded. Off we went that weekend to pick up our little Maltese called Poppy and I brought her home convinced that now I had a puppy my life would be complete and I’d never be sad again.

There was just one teeny tiny hiccup in my plan, far from fixing my life, Poppy sent me into complete chaos. She kept me up all night, disrupted my daily (rigid) routine, she weed on my carpet, shredded toilet roll and even ate her own vomit. So I was sleep deprived, my recovery structure had gone out the window and I had an 8 week old puppy who wanted my undivided attention every second of the day. Then she got fleas and I completely lost the plot. I cleaned like I have never cleaned before. I bought flea bombs and bombed the entire house, I washed every item of clothing I had, twice. I binned my bedding, vacuumed the carpets to within an inch of their life and gave my dog so many baths she started to smell like rose petals all the time. Eventually my mum sat me down for a brutally honest chat. Poppy was my dog and my responsibility, that was the deal when we got her. If I couldn’t take care of her then she had to go back.

That night, I sat on my bed, sobbing my guts out, thinking that I was the worst human being in the world. I couldn’t even look after a dog! I was useless, pathetic etc. Then Poppy came over to me and flopped down on my lap. She stayed there until I stopped crying then she licked the tears off my face and settled back down to sleep. That was when it dawned on me, this dog doesn’t care that I have OCD. To her I am completely perfect exactly the way I am. Something clicked in me and I was filled with determination to make this work. I read everything I could get my hands on about dogs: how to train them, when to feed them and how to protect them from flees. I learned it all and very quickly Poppy responded to my leadership and we found a routine that worked for us. There were still a lot of things I struggled with. My mum had to pick up dog poos on walks and if Poppy was sick I tended to have a bit of a melt down. Plus if I saw a bit of fluff in her fur I’d leap on it to check it wasn’t a flea but overall things were good and Poppy and I were happy.

But the more I got my life back on track, the less time I had to spend with Poppy. I was working, learning to drive and generally building a life for myself and I worried about her getting lonely without me. There was only one option, I should get another dog. Let’s just say my parents weren’t crazy about this plan but they agreed on one condition. If I wanted another dog that meant taking 100% responsibility for the one I already had. I’d be picking up all poos, mopping up any sick and not having a melt down every time I saw a spec of dirt on Poppy’s fur that could possibly be a flea. It was daunting but I wanted another dog so badly that I started to tackle these obstacles head on.

One of the things I’d struggled with in the past was letting Poppy out to do her business at night. It meant I was the last one to lock the back door and I was always convinced I hadn’t locked it properly. Then I’d start to panic that the garage door wasn’t locked or the lounge window and before you know it I was going round the house checking absolutely every door and window was locked. While I was there I checked that all the appliances were switched off as well, obviously.

The first night I let her out, I was so worried all my obsessive thoughts would come back but I kept reminding myself that I was different now. I was in recovery and had so much more awareness of my OCD. So then the urge to ask my mum to come down and check that the back door was locked came, I resisted it. I did have to stare at all the locks for about a minute to check they really were locked but I went up to bed without checking any other doors. Gradually it became easier until eventually I could lock the door and walk away with no trouble at all. I was also picking up poos and even putting them in the dog bin myself. I was serving up Poppy’s smelly food and only giving her baths when she actually needed them.

Obviously I was proud of myself for overcoming my OCD but the biggest reward was the one I got from my dog. The more I did for her, the more she saw me as her owner and the closer we became. With OCD out the way we connected on a new level and now we have such excellent communication that it’s like we’re the same person. There’s not a day goes by I don’t think how glad I am that I battled through my OCD and kept my lovely little dog. She’s my best friend, recovery companion and she’s always there for a cuddle after a bad day. With her I am never Katy, the girl with OCD. I’m just Katy, her owner and the best human being in the world. Every time I look at her I’m reminded of how far I’ve come and I know that without her motivating me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. She was more important than my compulsions and I wanted her more than I wanted the safety I thought OCD gave me.

Now, finally, I’m ready to get another dog and last week I went to meet him for the first time. I know that a puppy will be hard. There’ll be sleepless nights and the joys of housebreaking to look forward to but this time I know I’m strong enough to cope. I’ve found my motivation and the more I challenge my OCD the more I want to keep challenging it. Getting another puppy is my next challenge.

  • Note: You must be logged in to post a comment.