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Gunther is a good dog for a depressed guy

May 22, 2018


May 22, 2018

Despite my angst, the blossoms of spring filtered through my consciousness.  

Moreover, Gunther remains a damned good dog.  These two agents of cheer—spring and Gunther— are related.  Here’s why:  

  • Indoors, Gunther usually comes when I call.  I guess the indoor environment bores him.  Outdoors, is a different story.
  • He goes to bed at night when I ask him to “kennel up.”  He is lazy like me.
  • We have a routine when he gets up in the morning.  He goes outdoors to pee, then he comes in when I call him and whistle.  I get a taste of the morning.
  • He jumps up on the back of my chair and sits on my sore neck, causing a soothing warmth while I drink my first two cups of coffee.
  • I cannot remember the last time he made an error on our floor.  Sphincter control, there.  Maturity.  He reliably poops on the other side of the block.
  • When it is time to put on his leash and harness, he does what P. wants, although he looks blankly at me from a distance like a moron.  When P. asks him to “stand right here” he meekly does so.  Therefore he is a good dog for her, but not for me.
  • Outdoors unleashed, he might or might not come when I call.  Usually he ignores me, especially if he finds some french fries.  Or birdseed.
  • If I ignore him after he doesn’t come when I call he eventually catches up with me on the other side of the block.
  • He knows how to “stay” if it is for no more than five seconds.  At least he tries.
  • He is damned cute, with his underbite and smiling jowls.  Looks like a little bad wolf.
  • Our seven o’clock walks in the cool morning have birds, sprinklers, children looking out their windows at Gunther.  “I know that dog,” one exclaims.  

He’s a bad dog, isn’t he.”  (Gunther sometimes snaps at timid children, so I tell them Gunther is a bad dog, not to try to pet him.)

A couple of years ago when I was first being treated by a psychiatrist for depression I got Gunther from “Help for Homeless Pets.”  He has been a good friend to me, although I have to give the psychiatric medicines lots of credit.  These days my symptoms of depression are gone and I feel like a regular person again, whatever that means.  I think it means I have gotten back my curiosity about things and I am able to deal with just about everything except our current president’s fascism.  I’d say that’s pretty good, considering how crippled up I was before I got help from my internist, who referred me out to a shrink.

After a couple of false starts with medications that either didn’t work or made me feel worse, my psychiatrist got me on a regimen that I have been on for about a year, now.  Depression is a dangerous condition because it can lead to self harm.  Still, I would like to be gradually weaned from at least some of the meds, and next month I’m going to ask my psychiatrist.  We have been talking about that for the last six months.

Why wean off medications?  My brother Tom said it like this:  “Some people swim with water wings, others employ arms and legs.”  Of course that presupposes one knows how to swim.  Likewise, one would need to know how to cope without medicine, such as with exercise and Gunther and my psychiatrist.

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