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Puppy “simply the tonic” to assist lady mourn the devastating lack of her mom

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A young woman was helped by her dog to overcome the grief over the death of her mother.

When Abigail Rabbet lost her mother, she also lost a close companion and daily source of joy.

“I felt more lonely than ever,” she admitted.

“I couldn’t focus on anything, I kept crying and watching so many episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians that I dyed my normally blonde hair brown …

“In the months before my mother’s death, we spent all day together, watching TV, chatting, drinking tea – and then one morning everything suddenly stopped.

“I felt abandoned and in pain. My days were no longer filled with persistent chatter about Emmerdale but with silence. I couldn’t even stand being on TV.”

The family brought Shadow home the day after the funeral

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The day after the funeral, Abigail’s father decided to do something to cheer her up.

“My dad bundled me into the car and said, come on, monster, we’re going to get a dog,” she continued.

“As a family we’ve always had dogs (black Labradors to be precise), but when Storm died at the ripe old of 17 we were all so devastated that the thought of replacing him didn’t count.

“But it was clear we needed a different personality in the house to try and fill in some of the void my mother left.

“It was the first ‘nice’ feeling I had since my mother died.

“Fortunately, dad fell in love just as quickly and on the same day we walked away with our big bundle of paws of joy (this is not the usual protocol, but the breeder was a friend of a friend).”

The little dog’s impact on Abigail’s life was dramatic and immediate.

“When we took him home, I felt euphoric – he was so small and soft that he was in my arms for hours,” she continued.

“But then around 9pm that night I started feeling guilty for the amount of joy it brought. He wasn’t a substitute for my mother.

Now he's a full family member

Now he’s a full family member

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“A few tearful hours later, I realized that a puppy was the perfect tonic for grief.

“Shade was something pure and happy (and incredibly sweet, too). The healing power of animals is a real thing.

“Even if I had someone to look after, I could fill a gap in my routine. I had a reason to get out of bed in the morning because the dog needed a little time.”

Because the dog is struggling with bed times, Abigail will often stay with him, which is a good distraction from her bad dreams.

It has been shown that people who interact with dogs receive an increased dose of oxytocin.

And in some cases, just eye contact with a dog can increase your oxytocin levels.

Studies have also shown that dogs are sensitive to emotional upheaval and can respond to emotions their owners feel.

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“He even took walks to my mother’s grave less lonely,” Abigail continued.

“The long walk down the cemetery path doesn’t feel so scary when my best buddy is next to me.”

Grief therapy dogs have been around since World War II that have been shown to help people overcome grief.

They can be found in places like funeral homes, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and hospices.

Popular breeds used as therapy dogs include the Portuguese Water Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, St. Bernard, and Golden Retriever.

This story was published with our new sister site TeamDogs. Click here to learn more.

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