A Dog Named Harrison Ford Helps His Pet Mom Find Joy in Life

Emily was depressed and struggling to find meaning. Then she adopted Harrison, a dog who “herded her” back to happiness.

Emily + Harrison Ford

Emily was living with major depressive disorder and the loss of a relationship when she applied to adopt a dog named Harrison Ford. Bringing Harrison into her family opened her heart and inspired her to embrace life with her best friend by her side.

"Since Harrison’s adoption, life has gotten better. Harrison showed me there was a lot to live for, and now the hard days seem more manageable with Harry at my side. "

In June 2019, the person I thought I would be spending my life with ended things. The future I thought I had vanished, and the immense love I had felt no longer had a recipient.

I’m no stranger to major depressive disorder. I was diagnosed at age 13 and had managed it well since age 23. Then June 2019 came, and I was shrouded in a darkness I had not experienced in years. I felt alone, worthless, and it was often hard to get out of bed. I was not taking care of myself. But then, I found a glimmer of hope. I received the email from Black Dog Animal Rescue approving my adoption of Harrison.

Since Harrison’s adoption, life has gotten better. Harrison showed me there was a lot to live for, and now the hard days seem more manageable with Harry at my side. He filled a hole in my heart. He brightened my world and gave me somewhere to channel my deep love. I have a constant companion in life who does not judge me and who will wake up at all hours to go hiking with me. He helped me take care of myself, love another again, and love myself.

Harrison has also been helpful during the pandemic. As the mental health crisis surges, my therapy caseload grows exponentially. Oftentimes, I am left feeling burnt out. Harrison is always there with his happy smile, to remind me to take care of myself and take breaks between clients (for belly rubs). 

Harrison also provides emotional support to my parents, especially my mother who was working in the public health field until she retired in July 2021. As the director of Suffolk County’s Health Department health services and education program, she was at the head of contact tracing and getting education about COVID-19 to the public. Over the last year and a half, I saw my mom work Christmas and other holidays, working 13-hour days to provide support and help with contact tracing. I watched as the stress ate away at her and was often concerned for her physical and mental health. Thankfully, my parents moved to Colorado, and Harrison has helped my mom find joy again. I now watch her bounce out of bed as Harrison wiggles up to her, ready to start the day. The life and light are back in her eyes, too.

Harrison has done so much for not only me but also for my family. He brings joy to all those he encounters. He changed my life for the better and I cannot express to him enough how grateful I am for him. Black Dog Animal Rescue brought him to me and changed my life for the better, especially at such a dark time. Harrison brought me back into the light or more appropriately, he “herded” me back into my life, and I would not be here today without him.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Emily won Black Dog Animal Rescue in Cheyenne, Wyoming a 2021 Love Stories award.