A dog saving his pet parent isn’t unheard of, but it’s rare. It’s a little more out there. Mary McNeight, who was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety, experienced this. Her health continued to deteriorate despite the medications and therapy sessions prescribed to her by her doctor. After a while, she found herself unable to leave the house for months at a time.
I didn’t even know I had a tree that flowered in the springtime in my yard. That’s how rarely I went out.
She decided to look into adopting a dog as a last-ditch effort to find relief from her symptoms and stability. On one of her trips, she stopped by the Seattle Humane Society, dedicated to animal welfare. As soon as Jasper was introduced to her by a staff member, the black Lab-mix simply sat down next to her. Then he wouldn’t be able to go. He was adamant about not participating in the game. He had no desire for a reward. That’s not something that interested him. Her presence was all that mattered to him. Mary knew instantly she had to bring him home.
He wouldn’t leave my side. He just sat there and it was like, ‘OK. Let’s go.’
He had been surrendered to the shelter by a divorced family. However, he needed to go for a walk every day, which meant that Mary had to join him. Having her eager Labrador by her side helped her re-enter the world, which was exactly what she needed. Jasper, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise: He would lick her, lay on her, whimper at her, and otherwise try to engage her when she was in a panic attack.
“It was like he could sense it, that he knew I needed him,” Mary said. “He’d bring me back.”