Been a while!
For some time, being autistic has been something that I haven’t really thought much about. Apart from when miscommunication led to a disagreement at home or some such. But generally I was busy living life, being Mum, wife, friend, teacher. And pet owner. All in my own unique way. But lately it’s been much more on my radar, as anxiety, particularly around social situations has crept more to the fore. Friends are all have busy lives and my physical health isn’t always the best so a combination of less exercise, less time with close friends and, I think crucially, the loss of my precious dog, Ollie, a year ago have left me tired, anxious and questioning where I fit in my world. I didn’t realise Ollie was my support dog until he wasn’t there for support any more. A constant companion, following me around the house, sat at my hip with his head in my lap EVERY night, he was a source of comfort and the only creature on earth to love me unconditionally without even a hint of judgement; even our parents, who love is without conditions, have expectations, hopes regarding our choices and behaviour, but in this boy’s big brown eyes, I was perfection and could do no wrong. And then he was gone. And, while I don’t miss picking up his poop, or his old man-dog breath, I miss him with an ache I’ve never felt before.
A year has passed since he left and we’re welcoming a new dog in three days’ time. Different breed, and our first girl dog, so a different friend in many ways, but I hope she will bring the same security and confidence to me that Ollie did, because I’ve realised that support dogs don’t have to load the washing for you, or alert you to an imminent seizure, or be your eyes, or ears. For those of us with autism, they just have to be there, which is exactly what they want to do.