This. This is why I do what I do. Before Coconut I didn’t like or dislike dogs. I was scared of big ones, really scared of those with a loud bark, and if a dog came at me unleashed I thought my life was over. I still do on the whole unleashed thing.

Life changed with my brain injury and those changes somehow went from me being scared or indifferent about dogs to me not only owning a dog but being an advocate.

It’s kind of like certain foods I always thought I didn’t like. Take avocados. I thought they were disgusting for some reason. I’d go to the restaurant and order something and always say, “No guacamole, please. Can you leave off the avocado?” My lunch partner would ask that those be added to their plates and I’d be thankful I wasn’t wasting money but still pleased I didn’t have to eat the gunk.

We lived in a cottage in Hawaii for a while and there was an avocado tree. We’re talking Nerf football size and in the middle of the night the wind would blow and it sounded like bowling balls on our roof. I’d gather them up in the morning and take them to work and give them away. People could not believe they were free!

My wreck left me with what is called intractable migraines. That means “a type of pain that can’t be controlled with standard medical care. Intractable essentially means difficult to treat or manage.” Nailed it. My doctor explained this was something I would need to live with and I would have to learn to manage the resulting depression and anxiety while my brain healed. He mentioned a dog. I told him no. A few months passed. The dog came up again. I said no again.

A few months into this I casually told him I had started eating avocados and in fact, ordered them on every sandwich and feasted on chips and guac whenever possible. Didn’t he think that was strange? Turns out it wasn’t. There are certain foods that are healing to specific parts of the body. In the case of the brain, avocados are high on the list. My brain was trying to heal and so the cravings I was having were not only normal but healthy. I’m trying to convince my new doctor that wine is brain food. She isn’t buying it.

During that conversation, my doctor suggested that owning and caring for a dog would help my brain and my emotions. The dog would be kind of like those previously-hated avocados. I didn’t say no but I didn’t rush to the nearest shelter.

We moved, we started getting settled, the headaches and anxiety and stress were at an all-time high and the depression had me considering suicide every day. During a Skype appointment with my Hawaii doctor the dog idea came up and I agreed to at least search out a shelter to visit and then I’d do a significant amount of research on breeds, financial commitment, lifestyle changes that come with a dog, pet insurance, local vets, and more. None of that happened. I walked into NEW PAWSibilities because no one else was open and I walked out with a dog. My dog.

Somehow Jim and Coconut got me excited about dogs and now I’ve put my professional life on hold so that I can help with the effort to save them. Pretty cool how that works.

I made all kinds of mistakes. Costly ones. Stressful ones. But the one thing that has never been a mistake was getting not just a dog but this dog. This dog really does complete me. The pieces of me that needed healing are slowly doing just that. My dog is sort of like the avocado of depression and anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. I guess I should have named him Avocado.