TBI and My Guy Si
How I brought love & normalcy back into my life after a near death experience by getting a new roommate who walks on four paws.
This is Silo, my best friend and life line, a few months after he moved into my home and my heart.
A (Wo)man's Best Friend
We were inseparable the first year of his life and I believe he is a large reason I was able to rebound from my near fatal accident as fast as I did.
Silo entered my life just after he did, at five weeks old. Two months prior I fighting for my life in the hospital not sure what life would be like once I was able to live on my own again. In September, I was scrolling through social media and saw that my dear friend's sweet pup was having an unplanned litter of puppies. He was rescuing her, bringing her back to health and before he could take her to get fixed... well I think you can fill in the blanks... she was pregnant. I sent him a nonchalant message about possibly thinking about getting a dog after my therapist mentioned looking into it as a form of therapy, but of course this litter was already spoken for. Miraculously a short month later my friend reached out to let me know one of the pups needed a home ASAP. A week later I found myself driving little Silo home from Dallas in my passenger's seat (let's be real, he mostly road in my lap the entire way home). I was infatuated, it was the happiest I had been in months.
"Animals Increase Your Happiness!" - Science
Interactions with our furry friends have been linked to lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems, decreased feelings of loneliness, decreased cholesterol & triglyceride levels, increased exercise levels with time outside and increased opportunities for socialization. Having a stroke or brain injury can be an isolating experience and it is easy to feel lonely but when you are responsible for a fragile, tiny and adorable fluff ball you force yourself to get outside your brain and move your body. If you've ever had, or even held, a puppy you know you can't make it a block without the "Ahhhh's" "OMG's" or college girl tears and those interactions rarely accompany frowns & pessimism. It was beautiful seeing happiness and it was becoming contagious. To be honest, it was nice being approached by an energy different from the gloom that surrounds conversations after being seriously hurt. People are trying to be genuinely sweet and caring but the looks, energy and sentiments can be a huge bummer after awhile, so Silo's adorable antics switched that focus and energy immediately.
Emotional, Physical and Mental Support
Silo and Leah adventuring the wild world of West Texas.
Animals can lessen negative emotions and offer acceptance, love, and motivation which was crucial for me in the emotional roller coaster of brain recovery. Silo is a certified Emotional Support Animal (ESA) which provides him the opportunity to live and fly with me without question. Regardless of his certification, I believe we created a bond from his young age that matched my fragile state of mind. We became a safe place and safety net for each other. I took him everywhere I could which really decreased my anxiety re-entering social situations because I knew he was there with me. My experience isn’t as unique as it sounds. In clinical studies patients have been known to walk further with a dog on a daily walk and activities like brushing a pet, feeding them treats, and putting a leash on and off can act as exercises to help increase motor recovery.
No Trauma? No Problem!
Dog owners showed fewer symptoms of depression
You don’t have to suffer trauma to benefit from a dog! Although dogs can be trained to help humans with conditions like PTSD, strokes, brain injuries and more, a recent experiment showed that dogs will rush to assist their owners when they hear their owners crying. Try and find me a human out there who isn't sad every once in a while. It is also found that dog owners showed fewer symptoms of depression. Depression is one condition that is linked to loneliness and evidence shows having a dog makes people less lonely. Additionally when you bring a furry family member into your home you are more motivated to get outside and do the adventures you love and enjoy. There is no better feeling than taking Silo on a trail with one of his furry besties and just watching them jump, run and play.
At Knockin' Noggins we support your adventurous lifestyle in whatever way you enjoy being active. We also know that adventures with companions can create some of the most unforgettable moments and it's also a plus these types of companions can't talk back or shoot down your brilliant ideas for fun!