For 24 years, my depression kept me from leaving the house. So deciding that I would go see my Aunt Barbie in Orlando – 2,000 kilometers, or 1,200 miles away from my home in Toronto – was a gigantic step for me.
My divorce after 16 years of marriage forced me to confront all the ways I had been compensating for feeling like I could not go out. The online shopping habit had piled up boxes of clothing, cooking implements and cosmetics, not to mention the credit card bills. I had so many dog figurines, there was no room left on the shelves. Luckily, I had a best friend with some insight that resonated in my quiet home my husband had left: “Why don’t you get a real dog?”
As soon as I saw the sad face of a basset hound mix in that humane society shelter cage, I felt all my sorrow reflected back at me. And it looked so funny on this boy, then named “Schmeagle,” that I found myself smiling.
It seemed like a new start for both of us, so I gave him a new name, “Beezer.” With his companionship, I started to realize time had time had passed me by. When I heard my beloved aunt I hadn’t seen since high school graduation had heart disease, I knew I couldn’t wait to see her any longer.
But, I couldn’t handle the idea of making the trip and staying away from Beezer. It seemed like an insurmountable effort without him.
Luckily, I found out that Air Canada makes accommodations for people who need to bring their dog along with them. Through this company I found online, ESADoggy, I discovered that Beezer could actually travel free and stay in the cabin with me.
They located a therapist that I talked to and she concluded that Beezer is an emotional support for me. Using her letterhead, she wrote a letter that said Beezer makes it possible for me to deal with the symptoms of depression.
I had to submit the letter with the therapist’s license number, at least two days before traveling. It turns out that it’s good for a year, if I decide to go on another trip.
I can’t tell you how good it was to see Aunt Barbie. We talked about how awful it was that my parents were killed in that home invasion. And it seemed like Beezer really enjoyed the trip too.