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Puppy for Depression

answered 08:58 AM EST, Mon November 14, 2011
My sister is having a hard time right now with depression and it’s very hard for me to watch. As kids we had a golden retriever that she just loved to death. I mean she really loved that dog and she was the one in the family that spent the most time taking care of him.

I am wondering if I should buy her a puppy. She is single and she doesn’t really have anyone in her life right now. I am thinking that if she had a dog to love and to take care of it might help her get her thoughts away from herself and onto the needs of the dog.

I am not sure if this is a good idea but I would be willing to take the dog off her hands if it turns out she doesn’t want it. Is buying a dog for someone with depression a good idea? Does my reasoning here make any sense?

Stephanie Adams Says...

Your reasoning makes sense - you see your sister hurting and you want to do something, anything to help make it better. It's very hard to be a family member of someone suffering from depression. You feel helpless.

I think your idea is solid but I would stop short of doing it for her for two reasons: 1) a dog comes with a lot of responsibility and could be a great deal of trouble, making her feel overwhelmed if she's not prepared for it. When someone is feeling depressed, you want to help encourage them to feel in charge of their world, not risk them feeling like they can't handle it. 2) Getting a dog for her that you take back could create the same situation. In your heart you're wanting to be helpful and make it a no-fail situation for her, but she COULD see it as "I caused a burden for my sister by not being able to "handle" the dog."

Still, a dog can be a great help for a person with depression - I would encourage you to bring it up with your sister collaboratively in lieu of doing it for her. Maybe say something like this. "Hey, I was thinking about [name of your family dog] recently. Didn't we have so much fun with him/her? As an early Christmas present, I'd really like to help you get a dog this year. Would you let me do that for you?"

Empower her to work with you to help her depression, and I bet the results will be great. Let me know how it goes!

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Page last updated Nov 14, 2011

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