Writer. Photographer. Dog Wellness Advocate.
My four dogs brought me back to life.
In 2016, my mind and body shut down.
I woke up one morning with a fog so thick in my brain that I couldn’t complete thoughts or sentences. I struggled to get out of bed. A single set of stairs or the walk from the mailbox exhausted me. I started having PTSD attacks, finding myself hiding in a corner, heart racing, face burning and fearing death for no factual reason. I’d never experienced anxiety attacks before, but suddenly I was sure my bones were breaking spontaneously and the feeling in my chest was signaling a heart attack.
This physical, mental and emotional crash was complicated by the fact that I lost my health insurance, most of my income and almost all of my retirement savings at the exact same time.
Just when I needed help the most, I no longer had the privilege of accessing Western medicine.
This turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life.
Healed by dog
My dogs were the first to show me that healing doesn’t have to come from a prescription pad.
What I really wanted to do, every moment of the day, was climb back into bed. But every time I tried, my four Boxers, Tyler, Lily, Georgia, and Duke, nudged me back out into the world. They needed walks, which got me moving. They needed to play, which got me laughing. They needed affection, which gave me comfort. Caring for them gave me a sense of normalcy, no matter what I was feeling.
But deeper than that, they loved me when I didn’t think I could be loved.
Every morning, without fail, I’d open my eyes and see a small army of furry faces that were happy to be with me.
Then one random day, I remember coming home and seeing them through the door, wagging their stubby little tails and dancing with excitement at the sight of me. It had happened thousands of times before, but for some reason, that day it really stuck: my beloved babies were dancing with excitement at the sight of me.
How powerful is that?
I realized that for my dogs, I was good enough. I was loved. I was lovable.
They didn’t judge me for my losses, my struggles, my weaknesses. They didn’t abandon me when I was at my lowest. They stayed the course, demonstrating a dog’s superpower and possibly one of the greatest healing tonics of all time: unconditional love.
For all the healing that my dogs had offered to me, I wanted to give back to them in return. I became obsessed with two questions:
How can I feel happier and healthier?
And how can I do the same for my dogs?
Because I could no longer turn to a doctor’s appointment for answers, I did the research myself. I dove deep into the science of health and happiness, both for humans and for dogs. Over time, my interests expanded beyond modern science to include more natural, time-tested methods, such as food as medicine, meditation, nature therapy and gratitude practices.
The combination of modern science and the ancient wisdom of natural healing opened up a new world of wellness options I never knew existed, both for me and my dogs.
What I learned not only freed me from the paralyzing fear, depression and anxiety attacks, it also pulled two of my senior dogs back from the brink of death.
It’s now my mission to share the psychological, physical, emotional and spiritual practices that transformed me and my dogs from paralyzing fear and depression to radiant health and happiness—and show you how you and your dog can do the same.
Together, let’s create a movement that improves the lives of dogs and the people who love them.
Please join with me and fellow dog parents from around the globe as we re-imagine pet parenting and overcome the outdated, harmful beliefs that society has about how to care for dogs (and ourselves).
Let’s create a world where we give back to our dogs for all they give to us.
Our dogs can heal us. We can heal our dogs.
Jennifer Waters is a former journalist, healthcare content writer, and owner of Grumpy Pups Pet Photography and Happy Dog Mom. She is obsessed with finding ways to feel happier and healthier, and doing the same for her senior Boxers.