‘I was terrified to take this tiny human home! How was I going to do this all alone? But Jager was always there to lend a helping paw.’: New mother relies on service dog to help her through postpartum depression

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“If someone would have told me that the cute, chocolate brown puppy I was picking out would someday change my life, I would have never believed them. Jager is a 6-year-old, Doberman Pinscher. Not only is he my best friend, he is also my Service Dog. I have spent the last 6 years learning and training with him, but mostly, he’s been training me. I’ve always been a dog person. We had dogs growing up and my parents had a small pet store and grooming business. It’s safe to say I was basically born into my love of animals. When I first brought home Jager I never in a million years would have thought he would be my service dog. He was the typical naughty, trouble making pup. He chewed on shoes. He shredded several pillows. He ate socks.

Brown puppy laying on ground outside
Courtesy of Rebecca Morton

Around the age of 6 months he started to pick up on my anxiety and he would lay in my lap, give kisses, try to distract me. I decided to talk to a trainer about doing some basic obedience and when we started puppy classes it was very clear he was a people pleaser. He just wanted to make me happy and was always willing to learn anything I threw his way. We trained together for about a year and a half and he graduated into becoming a full time service animal for myself. I suffer from Bipolar disorder, PTSD, and a generalized anxiety disorder. Now, you might wonder what a dog can do to help someone with those types of psychiatric disorders. One of the most valuable tasks Jager does is called DPT, deep pressure therapy. It’s basically like someone having a weighted blanket on top of them to relieve anxiety but instead, the weight is replaced with a dog. He will lay on my lap and apply pressure to my legs or torso to help me recover from a panic or anxiety attack.

Woman sits in recliner with brown dog on her lap
Courtesy of Rebecca Morton

For the better part of his life he has helped me in many ways. I like to think he and I were meant to be together. He has always been my rock, my best friend, so when I found out this year I was pregnant, there was no doubt in my mind I would have him with me during my labor and delivery. He came with me to every doctor’s appointment, every ultrasound. He was with me every step of the way. I spent the better part of my pregnancy wondering how he would react to having a new member in our family, would he like him? Would he not like him? What would he do if the baby starts crying? All of those new mom questions raced through my brain. Finally the day came for us to go to the hospital and get ready to meet this new bundle of joy. I was nervous, but Jager was on point as always. He was ready to meet his little brother!

View from woman laying in hospital bed with dog laying beside her
Courtesy of Rebecca Morton

The process was pretty straight forward. They explained everything to me and Jager seemed to be listening as well. He was a huge hit with the nurses and staff on the labor and delivery ward. I spent the next two days in labor as Jager watched over me. Always looking up to make sure I was okay when the nurses came in. Always lending a head or ear to scratch when I would have contractions, a soft kiss from time to time when he thought I needed it. Day 3 arrived and things got shaken up a bit. We needed a C-section. When the time came to take me to the operating room, I gave him a wink and said a short goodbye. He waited in my hospital room while I headed over to await the arrival of my first baby.

View from woman laying in hospital bed with brown dog laying beside her resting it's head on her
Courtesy of Rebecca Morton

Things went quickly from there and my little man was welcomed into the world 20 minutes later. Keller Monraux Morton was 7 pounds 9 ounces and 19 ½ inches long. A flood of emotions overwhelmed me as they handed me my baby while wheeling me out of the operating room. Jager was the first one to walk up and see me, the baby cried and Jager flicked an ear up to listen and investigate. I wondered what he was thinking in that moment. ‘Who was this screaming naked puppy mom is holding?’ ‘Can I see it?’ ‘It sure is a noisy little thing!’ ‘Let me see, let me see!’

Woman who just gave birth lays on hospital bed with her dog standing beside it looking at her
Courtesy of Rebecca Morton

We spent the next 2 days in the hospital bonding and learning how to care for a newborn. No one tells you how hard and draining it is, especially after you’ve just had major surgery. The day came for us to go home – I was nervous, scared, overwhelmed and downright terrified to take this tiny human home with me! How was I going to do this all alone? I held my baby and cried. At that moment, I’ve never felt so alone and helpless. But just then, I felt a cold nose on my arm. It was Jager and he was looking up at me as if to say, ‘Don’t worry Mom, you’re not alone. You have me.’ He gently gave the baby a soft lick on his forehead and sat staring at us for a long while. Never in my life had I felt such an enormous feeling of unconditional love. Jager was my first child, my fur child. He has done so much to make my life whole.

Newborn asleep on women's legs while dog sits beside him watching
Courtesy of Rebecca Morton

In the following weeks I developed postpartum depression. I would cry for what seemed like no reason. I would get so overwhelmed at the sound of my baby crying, but Jager was always there to lend a helping paw. He fetched bottles for me, diapers if I asked him to. Mostly he would just sit and listen to me. Always offering a good old fashioned wet slobbery kiss if I needed.

Dog stands in home holding bottle of milk in his mouth
Courtesy of Rebecca Morton

It’s now been a month since my baby boy was born and I wouldn’t change it for the world. My hope is that he and Jager will grow up with each other and become fast friends. I know that he is so much more than just a dog to me. He is my family, my sounding board, and the best friend I have ever had.”

Dog laying on ground behind baby that is swaddled in red blanket sitting in basket for photoshoot
Hannah E Photography
Baby boy lays asleep on floor while dog lays next to him
Courtesy of Rebecca Morton
Baby boy lays on his back on couch while dog rests his head on the baby's shoulder
Courtesy of Rebecca Morton

This is an exclusive story to Love What Matters, for permission to use, email Exclusive@LoveWhatMatters.com. This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rebecca Morton, 29. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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