Most days, I feel like I’ve seen and heard all there is to know when it comes to relationships. I have been a therapist for decades, after all.  Then there are days that completely turn me around and remind me there’s still room for awe and surprise.

One of my female patients shared the following story with me, which cracks me up every time I think of it:

Not too long ago, she and her psychiatrist were struggling to figure out the right medication to help her manage her anxiety. They had tried many combinations, but without success. Her beloved dog, Rocky, could easily sense her body language when she was anxious and would sit by her side to comfort her. She felt a deep empathy with Rocky who, by the way, also mirrored her anxiety (but over car travel) and needed meds to help him cope.

One day, as she was playing with Rocky, she had a eureka moment: If Rocky thrives on his medication, could it possibly work for me too?  Seconds later, she found herself comparing her weight to Rocky’s and calculating the proper dose for her body. With some trepidation, she poured herself a glass of water, closed her eyes, swallowed Rocky’s pill, and waited for half an hour. A wonderful feeling of calm washed over her. OMG, it worked!

Although she contemplated asking Rocky’s vet to double his next anti-anxiety medication refill so she wouldn’t have to confess to her psychiatrist how she solved her own medication dilemma, she knew she would have to share her awesome discovery with her. At her next appointment, her doctor lamented having exhausted so many unsuccessful medication trials, but said she was out of options.

Have you considered x, she timidly asked her psychiatrist?

No, it will never work because that medicine doesn’t treat anxiety, her Dr. replied.

Let’s try it as a final option. I have a good feeling about it, my patient suggested.

And, the good psychiatrist wrote her a prescription.

Any dog lover can tell you a story about how their dog changed their life. They have mysterious ways of detecting human feelings. Did my patient come up with the idea to try Rocky’s meds or did Rocky, who sees the world through his nose, communicate the idea to her?

It’s true we consider dogs to be a part of our family. But, share medications? You’d be surprised how often it happens.


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