Send in the Old Guard
The Life-Saving Magic of Corgis
The moment the breeder placed Dylan into my arms, I knew he was perfect. Incredibly smart and quick to pick up on language, he couldn’t learn new things fast enough. He wanted to be involved in everything I did, following me around the house and waiting for me to reveal our next great adventure.
But when Sam came home with Gwenllian, I opened her pet carrier and thought, she’s so little . . . what have I done?! No magic sparkled between us and fireworks didn’t go off in the background. It was just me holding this small, helpless creature that Dylan desperately wanted us to send back to where she came from.
We found out quickly that Gwen had zero crate training and severe separation anxiety. She didn’t cry at night—she SCREAMED like the darkness was violently murdering her. As if that didn’t cause us to lose enough sleep, the vet told us that Gwen had a bug, so she had some gastro issues that we had to keep a constant eye on.
What had I done, indeed.
Coming from a family with a history of mental illness, I knew the signs. But every time I asked myself if I had depression or anxiety, I’d think, But I am not as bad as so and so. But in the summer of 2015, I fell apart. I was coming to realize that I wouldn’t be able to do the job I had just trained seven years to do, and I didn’t know how to grieve for the years of my life spent pursuing a career I’d never be able to have. When I finally admitted that I was depressed, I knew I needed to make a change.
I’d been saving for years for just the right moment. I wanted a Corgi, and I had just enough money to make it work. We brought Dylan home that fall, and I cried for the first two weeks—puppies are exhausting. But despite that rocky start, knowing that this tiny perfect creature needed me helped pull me out of my dark hole and encouraged me to start something new. That new thing ended up being a podcast.
The summer of 2021 will always standout as a particular nightmare for me. I don’t know how I found the energy to get out of bed and push through. But again, I knew I desperately needed a change.
We brought Gwen home the day after my grandmother’s funeral. I struggled to process my grandmother’s passing while we worked to get Gwen to a place where we could sleep more than a few hours at a time. I felt exhausted, worrying that I had just made everything so much worse.
In that first week, I remember crying on the floor when Gwen toddled over and fell asleep on my leg, jerked awake over and over again by her post-dinner hiccups. I stroked her white blaze and thought about how strange life is in these moments, sadness and joy shaken together until you can’t tell which is which.
Everyday, she’d find me sitting by myself, trying to do it all and failing miserably. But Gwen didn’t pull me out of my dark hole. She came down and sat beside me, her presence always there and reassuring me that I wasn’t alone.
Since ending my six-year passion project and taking leave from full-time work, I haven’t recovered as quickly as I’d hoped. My disability screams at me everyday, reminding me that I’ve tried to ignore my deteriorating health for far too long. But at the beginning every day, I know I need to take the Corgis out. We get the mail or go to the dog park. I walk. I listen to the world go by. And more often than not, I think, at least for a moment, So this is life. It’s pretty good.
Podcasts I’ve Been Listening To
The New Yorker Radio Hour - On Cancel Culture and Free Speech
As a social media person, I found this episode incredibly fascinating. They examine speech, mostly online, dedicating an entire hour to the topic.
Poured Over: The B&N Podcast - Tara Westover on Educated
Tara Westover doesn’t do a lot of interviews, so I loved hearing about what she’s been up to since her book came out a few years ago.
HindmanCast - 25. 2022 Appalachian Writers Workshop with Robert Gipe
Robert Gipe has written a trilogy of illustrated novels that I can’t wait to read. I always love hearing how unique Appalachian stories come into the world.
The Wintering Sessions with Katherine May - 6. Gemma Cairney on Conducting Energy with Balance and Motion
Another great episode from Katherine May. This time Gemma Cairney describes her experience living by herself during the pandemic while the UK frantically tried to respond to the chaos that broke out in March 2020.
Not Your Average IV User - Episode 6 - Michael Parker
I read almost everything I can get about the opioid crisis. But I’ve realized that most of the books I’ve read aren’t from the people most directly effected by it. This podcast does an excellent job of highlighting the stories of people in recovery. Plus, it’s based in Portsmouth, my home town!
Things That I Made That Went Up This Week
“8 Affrilachian Poetry Collections That Need to be on Your TBR”
Everyone needs to check out the incredible work from the Affrilachian Poets collective. They are producing some of the best American poetry out there.
“9 Romance Audiobooks for Valentine’s Day”
I’ve listened to four romance novels these past two weeks alone. Please, come join me!
Book Riot’s Audiobooks Newsletter
I write Book Riot’s weekly audiobooks newsletter. You can subscribe here to read all about my favorite listens of the week, and you can read back issues here. This week, I talk about Talia Hibbert’s Ravenwood series of romance novels.
ALL of the Links!
“The Satisfaction Trap” by Arthur C. Brooks (The Atlantic)
This article looks at the drive to look for happiness when what gets people renown is overwork. Oof
Sundays Food for Dogs
Dylan has always had some gastro issues and has shown some mild signs of liver distress, so we decided to try a new food for him. After a ridiculous amount of research, we decided to try Sundays, a human grade, air-dried food. He is OBSESSED. When we gave it to him for the first time, he kept spitting out the kibble we had mixed it with. That sounds like a five-star review to me. I’ll keep you posted.