It was a long and arduous journey which brought Parclete and I together. I’m not talking about my journey of trauma, but the difficulty of convincing military medical to provide the needed endorsement for a service dog. Their argument was that a service dog would hinder my recovery from PTSD, depression, and an anxiety disorder. Their remedy involved a cocktail of drugs to deal with the difficulties of fitting back into society. That transition loomed ever so more daunting on the fast approach of my retirement and return to civilian life. I knew the struggle was worth it the first time I met my soon to be service dog.
Paraclete and her sister came charging into the room for the “interview.” It wasn’t long before personalities, temperaments, and treatment needs began to match. Jade, Paraclete’s sister, was task oriented, always looking for the next “mission” racing around the room and searching for adventure. Paraclete was more relational. She stayed close to me, checked me out with her sensitive nose, brushed against me and sat on the floor at my feet with her paw on my knee. After taking the girls in and out of the room and discussing my needs, it became transparent that Paraclete was the companion for me. By the evening, we were off for a two-week trek together to the northern woods of Michigan. The two of us spent our time in joint solitude bonding on snowy walks and warm campfires. By the end of the trip we were inseparable.
Now, every time I move from one room to another, my “white shadow” trails behind me and finds a comfortable spot nearby to lay and chew on the toy she carries with her. When Paraclete and I sit in silence and I stare into her eyes an “old soul” looks back, as if she understands the journey that brought us together. She nuzzles my hand with her nose or sets her jaw on my knee looking up with longing eyes.
Paraclete is always present. She guides me through crowds and is a friend in the midst of strangers. I cannot imagine life without her.