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How Can a Cold Nose Keep You Going When It All Falls Down?


We all remember that day.

The one where steel tumbled from the sky, lives were changed forever and uncertainty took over the world.


I can still smell the crisp morning air from that day as I started my sophomore year at Syracuse University.

I was lucky because at the time I didn’t have any family and friends residing in New York City, Washington D.C. or Pennsylvania.

However, the very real loss happening around me to my friends and classmates was devastating beyond explanation.

On that day, my morning class was quickly dismissed. As soon as I stepped outside, I heard screams like I have never heard before

As I approached the quad, it was like a war zone. No actual violence had taken place on campus but at first glance that was not obvious. Students laid hysterically crying on the ground. More screams echoed.

Seeking Shelter

At the time, being a sheltered kid from a quaint Massachusetts town, I was way out of my comfort zone.

I ran back to my dorm room to call my sister who was nearby and my parents who happened to be in Italy that week. All I got were busy signals.

My roommate was a mess and had our 12-inch TV turned up to the maximum volume. As I saw the footage of the morning play, and the news coming out of the TV faster than I could comprehend it, I literally felt like the world could be ending. 

Not only had lives been lost and buildings fallen down but the “shelter” over me that I brought to college was obliterated.

Never the Same Again

Like many of people all over the world, that day shook me to the core.

I had always been a high achiever in school. My freshman year at Syracuse I made the Dean’s List both semesters. Of course, I expected to do the same my sophomore year but it wasn’t that easy.

I struggled in all my classes that fall semester. At times, I barely felt like I could catch my breath.

I looked for comfort and reassurance everywhere but couldn’t find it. My friends and the typical college debauchery brought temporary smiles to my face but something was most definitely off in my life. I couldn’t pin it down.

I Just Need a Break

Depression engulfed me and by the time December rolled around, I was counting the hours until I could go home for winter break. 

I thought that a break was all I needed. Everything would be okay after a break.

With two days left to go before my return home for the cure-all break, I couldn’t sleep at all.  I was not prepared for my last final and was so full of anxiety I couldn’t stand it.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Then I heard some refreshing news.

My parents brought home our new family puppy Bella.  I remember my mom saying how our dog Marty and “my new sister” Bella were ready to welcome me home but I had to tough it out for the next couple of days.

I did just that.

Finally, I arrived home late on a Tuesday night. My parents were happy I was home but looked like they hadn’t slept much in the past couple of days as they got Bella acclimated to our house.

As my parents dozed off on the couch, I held Bella in my arms as she chewed on her favorite toy.

For the first time since that awful day in September, I felt happy.

Coming Back to Life

Over the next three weeks, Marty and Bella revived me from my semester of malaise.

Each morning, we would play, cuddle and walk together. They made me laugh everyday without fail.

I began therapy for my depression, which was still lingering. When tears flowed, Marty and Bella were there to kiss them away.

This would not be the first time in my life in which it would all fall down but it was the first time that I realized how my dogs were true healers.

Even though Marty and Bella didn’t have any thumbs, I knew from then on they were there to catch me if I fell.

By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. Dogs don't overcomplicate life, so why should we? Join the pack of hundreds living happier lives at www.pawstotalk.com.


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Margot Ahlquist

Thank you so much Jobi!

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