Sarah Catherine + Rachi

Having a best friend helps Sarah work to overcome her struggles

Sarah + Rachi

During the fall of 2013, I was on medical leave from school and faking a recovery from anorexia. In early September, I convinced my parents that a puppy would give me motivation. They fell for it.

We agreed that if I gained weight six weeks in a row, I could get a puppy. I was desperate for a puppy and knew all the tricks to get around things. My weight crept up by decimal points over those six weeks – or so everyone thought.

"I believe if I did not have her with me during those months, I would have died"

Next thing you know, I was walking into the Lynchburg Humane Society and adopting a puppy. Rachi was rambunctious and full of energy. She was everything I wanted to be, but couldn’t be. I fell in love with her, and for a few short weeks, she provided the encouragement I needed.

Despite my condition, Rachi and I formed a special bond. Rachi kept me warm at night when anorexia stole all the heat from my body. Rachi curled up and nestled into my chest when I was sure my heart was about to stop beating. When I got sick in the middle of the night and thought I was going to die on the bathroom floor, Rachi barked and scratched at my parent’s bedroom door until they woke up and came to me.

When I say that my rescue dog rescued me, I mean it literally. During panic attacks, she wrapped herself up in my lap, reminding me to breathe. During dissociative episodes, she provided kisses that brought me back down to reality. Through times when suicide seemed appealing, her presence kept me grounded and alive. I believe if I did not have her with me during those months, I would have died.

Eventually, my eating disorder got bigger than I could manage and I was admitted for inpatient treatment. During the past two and half years since being discharged from treatment, there have been struggles. But Rachi has been there through it all. She has allowed me to grow and change, yet love me all the same.

My parents frantically clung to the hope that a dog could save my life. And even though it hasn’t happened exactly how they envisioned it, Rachi has saved my life many times. When depression rears its ugly head, she drags me out of bed in the morning. When my eating disorder waves a hand in the air and says, “hey, choose me!” she reminds me of all the reasons why I should choose life instead. When anxiety overwhelms me, she offers support in the form of kisses and cuddles.

My rescue dog truly rescued me.


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Each year, the Petco Love invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Sarah Catherine Straw won Lynchburg Humane Society in Lynchburg, Virginia a 2016 Holiday Wishes award.