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Meet My Girls: Gidget & Gretchen

The Ash Tree Home Blog

Meet My Girls: Gidget & Gretchen

How They Have Helped Me With My Anxiety & Mental Health

I have been around animals my entire life. Growing up my family was heavily involved with the Audubon Society. I can’t think of a time when we didn’t have an injured wild bird of prey in our backyard rescue center. We had Golden Eagles, Great Horned Owls, Hawks and more. We even raised a couple of raccoons, an owl and a Canadian goose. Whenever a stray dog or cat showed up on our front doorstep, we ended up adopting them.  I know I’m probably a bit biased, but I have to say I am so incredibly grateful for my current dogs, Gidget & Gretchen. They have played an integral role in my mental health and self-care journey. In this blog I’m going to share how they came to be in our lives and how they have helped me with my anxiety and mental health.

First, I think it’s important to establish just how these two beautiful creatures came into our lives. I’ll start with Gidget since she came to us first. About six weeks before we adopted Gidget, we lost one of our dogs named Ellie Mae very suddenly. Ellie Mae was one of those sweet souls with a protective heart. She loved her people but didn’t tolerate strangers in her space. She had a unique way of giving kisses to both Gene and me. With Gene, she would give him little love nibbles and kisses on his nose. With me, she would give little love nibbles and kisses on my chin. Fast forward to the day we met Gidget for the first time.

When Gene first met Gidget she came right up to him, put her paws on his lap so she could give him kisses on his nose. When she met me, she immediately gave me kisses on my chin. Both Gene & I were stunned and emotionally taken back. We were still grieving the loss of Ellie Mae and weren’t looking for another dog. But there was something so special about Gidget. It was almost as if, Ellie Mae sent her to us, and was letting us know in how Gidget first greeted us with the same kisses. I am so thankful that Gene and I were in tune with what was happening, and the signs that Gidget was supposed to be part of our family.

The same thing happened with Gretchen. We had recently lost one of our dogs named Dyna and weren’t looking for another dog. Gretchen was pregnant when she was rescued from a Tennessee kill shelter. Again, our work was having an adoption event. I was purposely keeping my distance from all the dogs not looking to adopt so quickly after losing one.

On my way to my office, Gretchen and her handler were in my path. I was having a bad day and was emotional. All I wanted was to be left alone. Gretchen dropped down on the ground and exposed her tummy, looking for a tummy rub., She had a big smile with her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth. There was no way I could walk by. She wasn’t having it. So, I knelt and gave her a tummy scratch, and she gave me a big sloppy kiss on the mouth and jumped into my lap! Gene saw all of this and threw his hands up as if to say, “I surrender!”.

When we introduced Gretchen to Gidget it was as if they had known each other their entire lives and were having a huge reunion. They were soul sisters and meant to be together and in our family. At the time of both adoptions, I had no idea just how special these two dogs were and how intuitive they are to my mental and emotional state.

It wasn’t until one day, while we were living in Delaware, that I came to realize just how special these two dogs are. I had been struggling mentally and emotionally with my job. I wasn’t happy and was struggling with how to cope with some of the pressures and personalities. I felt like I was in a one woman battle with a broken system and was losing parts of myself every day. I have no idea what expression was on my face or what kind of energy I was projecting. At the end of a hard day, I walked through the front door, sat on the couch feeling so deflated, and lost. I didn’t know how I was going to get through this ordeal and started to cry.

The next thing I know, I feel two wet noses gently trying to get into my self-made cocoon of protection. Gretchen was on the couch behind me, trying to give me kisses and lick my tears away. Gidget was on the floor in front of me nudging her nose between my clasped hands as if she wanted to give me a hug. In that moment, I felt so much love and compassion from these two dogs. They were working in tandem to get to me and to make sure I was OK. And there was NO STOPPING THEM. They were determined to make my pain go away.

While living in Colorado, they would do the same thing. I alone at home and was in the beginning stages of an anxiety attack. Gidget and Gretchen new I was in distress and needed help. They both came to me and gently began giving me kisses. Again, they nudged my hands so I would pet them. That simple act of gentle kisses and petting was incredible, and therapeutic. After a few moments of giving them some pets, my heart rate began to slow, and I began to breathe normally.

When I had Covid, Gretchen would not leave my side except to eat and go potty. Every night before bed, Gidget comes and sits in front of me until I give her hugs. Both are with me until I fall asleep and then are there with me when I wake up. They are my protectors. The moment someone raises their voice in our house, these two come running to make sure everything is OK.

In closing, I just have to say that rescuing these two special girls has changed my life in so many ways. So much so, they have their own Facebook page! They have saved me from deep dark moments of despair. They have helped nurse me back to health. They are my protectors and my companions. God only knows the torment and abuse Gidget and Gretchen went through prior to being rescued. And yet, they still have such an unconditional love and sense of protection to give freely to us. They truly are soul sisters and I believe sent to me from heaven.

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