Making a Promise and Gaining a Forever Friend
People say that dogs are man’s best friend. In our family, Roxy, our 3-year-old Australian ridgeback rescue, is my 13-year-old daughter Bella’s best friend.
Bella has always loved animals, which thankfully runs in the family. When she was hospitalized in 2017 due to a major neuromyelitis optica attack, she refused to leave the house without her trusty teddy bear, Blues, who provided her with safety and comfort.
Bella’s condition was so grave that on some days, her doctors didn’t know if she would pull through. Our family, including Blues, stood by her side 24 hours a day and leaned on our faith and one another to get by.
The first few days that Bella was hospitalized, we sent out a request to friends and family for animal pictures, drawings, or encouraging cards. Bella was elated to receive so many well wishes and animal pictures. Before long, her hospital room was filled with every type of stuffed animal you can imagine, and pictures of horses, dogs, cats, and other animals covered the walls and windows.
The first night that Bella was intubated and placed in a medically induced coma, my husband and I didn’t sleep a wink. We watched the machines in the room work to support our daughter while we talked to her and encouraged her to keep fighting. We told Bella how much we loved her, how proud of her we were, and how much we wanted her home with her brother, sister, and our family dog, Bronco. It was then that we promised Bella that if she continued to fight, we would get her a dog of her own.
While it’s true that pets can benefit people with disabilities, it’s important to note that a dog is a big commitment, and caring for a new puppy is a big responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Welcoming Roxy into the family required a lot of hard work and dedication on Bella’s part.
First, Bella had to go through physical therapy, speech therapy, and work on her balance to gain the strength she would need to keep up with her pup. My husband and I did our part by searching for the perfect rescue dog. In August 2018, we welcomed Roxy home.
Bella and Roxy fell in love at first sight. Bella spent all of her time teaching Roxy how to sit, stand, shake, and fetch. Roxy’s favorite game to play with Bella is hide-and-seek. Bella will have Roxy sit still while she hides, and Roxy will then run excitedly through the house sniffing and searching for Bella. Just thinking about the excitement and laughter I hear when Roxy finds Bella makes me smile.
Not only does Roxy play well with Bella and our other dogs, but she is also a source of comfort to Bella when she isn’t feeling well. Roxy will lie with Bella when she gets home after receiving treatment and won’t move until Bella moves. Roxy also has a special way of getting Bella up and keeping her active, even if she seems too busy. When Bella walks in the door after school, Roxy is always the first to greet her with a big kiss and a tail wag that could leave a mark on your leg.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Roxy played an integral role in supporting not only Bella’s mental health, but also our entire family’s. Although Bella is Roxy’s mom, Roxy has a special bond with each of us and has provided us with comfort and unconditional love, even in the most difficult of times.
To say that we are grateful for Roxy is an understatement. It is my absolute honor to offer our furry family members even a fraction of the unconditional love they give to us.
Note: Neuromyelitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Neuromyelitis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD).