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Rescued by the Rescued: How My Rescue Dog Helps My Recovery From Alcoholism


My rescue canine is not just a reminder of my restoration from alcoholism, but in addition an extension of it. -Christopher Dale

In August 2013, a gaunt, Three-year-old mutt was once amongst loads scavenging for meals on Puerto Rico’s Dead Dog Beach, an extremely harrowing locale for strays on an island infamous for its homeless canine epidemic.  Puerto Rico is overrun with greater than 250,000 stray canines, and has handiest 5 shelters in spite of being the measurement of Connecticut.  These inundated, steadily unsanitary havens have a kill fee of 99%.

For a long time, Dead Dog Beach has been a dumping floor for strays captured on different portions of the island.  Here, a handy guide a rough demise – steadily coming by the blade of a machete or the treads of an ATV – turns out preferable to the slower, extra painful choices of poisoning, hunger, or being mauled to demise by similarly determined strays and – sickening but unsurprising – cannibalized.

Against all odds, a excellent Samaritan – a selfless, compassionate soul actually doing God’s paintings – scooped the emaciated mutt up, positioned him in a automotive, and drove him to a makeshift refuge close to San Juan Airport.  The refuge was once run by The Sato Project (“sato” is Spanish for “stray mutt”), a Brooklyn-based group that transports strays from Dead Dog Beach, supplies them with preliminary veterinary care, and puts them in foster properties all through the NYC and Boston spaces.

At the airport refuge, the volunteer workforce nicknamed him Vector.

vec·tor [VEK-ter]  verb.  1) To information in flight by issuing suitable headings. 2) to switch path of (the thrust of a jet or rocket engine) so as to steer the craft.

rescuedVector must be useless, however as an alternative he joined my circle of relatives two years in the past.  Vector must be not able to sleep for concern of by no means waking up, however as an alternative he’s recently dozing in his plush doggie mattress. And when he wakes up, Vector doesn’t must sift thru trash for rotting scraps, as a result of he has a bowl with wholesome meals and, subsequent to it, any other with blank, recent water.

Vector’s restoration was once not anything wanting exceptional. He briefly blossomed from a skittish, shaking frightened break to a nub-wagging (he misplaced his tail, possibly on the seashore), face-licking, meatloaf-begging better half.

His growth right through the first few weeks with us – scattered but staggering, imperfect but inspiring – was once particularly endearing. We watched as Vector slowly got here to appreciate that our house – a spacious, three-bedroom ranch space in suburban New Jersey with an considerable entrance garden and grass-covered yard – can be his everlasting house. At first, this realization was once tenuous; sessions of sheer, puppy-love pleasure blended with a haunting anxiety, as though Vector was once anticipating to abruptly in finding himself again on that God-forsaken seashore the place he struggled simply to slightly live to tell the tale.


Vector had hit the puppy lottery, however his survival instincts merely wouldn’t permit him to consider that during the starting. He was once nonetheless on guard, nonetheless suspicious, nonetheless looking ahead to the different paw to drop. Not unusually, he was once afraid to depart our space, for concern that he would by no means get to come back again. For the first two weeks or so, he was once too frightened to such a lot as relieve himself outside (even in the yard), making pee pads – and several other space rugs – important momentary substitutes for hearth hydrants.

For my spouse and I, this was once a small, brief worth to pay for the humbling, enjoyable and joyous act of welcoming Vector into our house and, in doing so, saving his existence.

After all, we’d been thru this earlier than.

My first few months of sobriety had been the maximum nerve-wracking of my existence. Everything felt bizarre, particularly the rest that wasn’t an anticipated a part of my strict agenda. For me, there have been no Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea miracle that straight away got rid of my obsession to drink. That mentioned, early sobriety consisted of a inflexible routine that may be summed up in six phrases: Work. AA assembly. Gym. Home. Repeat. And regardless that executing my day-to-day plans was once laborious, deviating from them would had been a much more draining and perilous prospect.

A canine, after all, doesn’t know somewhat what to anticipate. So in overdue 2013 – in his personal early phases of a life-saving restoration – Vector knew something and something handiest: he was once secure on this space. The considered leaving it crushed him, as outdoor supposed out of protection.


Admittedly amateurs (Vector is a primary canine for us each), my spouse and I did our easiest to realize Vector’s accept as true with, each in us and in the protection of the space straight away surrounding our space. As we did so, we had the privilege of witnessing the stable growth of a circle of relatives member we briefly got here to like; and as we did so, we recalled the subtle first few months of my very own fledgling restoration, and the way this cautious depth certain us nearer in combination as indubitably as habit’s grab had pulled us aside.

Vector is not just a reminder of my restoration, but in addition an extension of it. His protection – in addition to the whole thing else this is excellent and natural and true in my existence – is a part of a infinite ripple impact whose genesis is the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Vector lives as a result of I used to be taught how one can are living, and he’ll recuperate on account of my restoration. He is a 22-pound present of this miraculous adventure of growth, and I’m thankful a long way past my skill to put across this with appropriate eloquence. We may rescue Vector handiest as a result of, 4 years in the past, I used to be rescued by the Fellowship of AA.


Christopher Dale is a freelancer who writes on society, politics and sobriety-based problems.  He has been revealed in a number of outstanding retailers, together with Salon.com, The Advocate and The New York Post.  He may be a contributing blogger to TheRepair.com, a sober way of life site.  He will also be reached at [email protected].

To be informed extra about the wonderful paintings by The Sato Project, talk over with www.thesatoproject.org or talk over with them on Facebook proper right here.

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