Last year over Thanksgiving, my friend Troy was camping in the Gila National Forrest with his two beloved dogs, Darla and Juno. Unfortunately, he and the dogs were separated and he ultimately had to go home without them. Over the coming weeks he made many unsuccessful return trips in hopes of finding his girls. Thankfully, someone spotted Darla and was able to trap her until Troy could pick her up.
Another kind soul later got in touch with some painful news: Juno's remains had been found. It looked like coyotes had gotten her. Troy made a second trip back and buried his friend wrapped in his favorite t-shirt.
This is the part of the story in which most people are mad at me for telling it, and they'd be right to because it's gutwrenching. You should know I would never do that to you- that's not where this story ends. Five months and five days after she was last seen, a rancher called with unbelievable news: he had found Juno. Apparently Troy had buried a coyote.
One last trip to Gila and Juno, Darla, and Troy were finally together again. A trip to the vet confirmed that Juno was surprisingly healthy following her time in the wilderness, but she'd lost a dangerous amount of weight. The doctor's prescription? Love and groceries.
I love this story so much. Obviously it's a ridiculously happy ending and I'm a complete sap when it comes to dogs. The reason I love the idea (and swiped the phrase) of love and groceries, though, is because they are the same two things we all need. Regardless of the diagnosis, I often give the same prescription to my own patients.
When I worked as an addiction counselor (well before I knew I'd change careers), I used to tell my patients, "Live one day at a time, but buy groceries." Love is a huge part of recovery, but recovery also requires action. Love can't do groceries' job. Now that I work as a dietitian, I encounter many hurting people who use groceries- or avoiding groceries- as a substitute for love, but groceries can't do love's job either. Love feeds our souls, and groceries feed our bodies. We need both to live fully, but sometimes we need a little help figuring out which one is needed at that moment.
The moral of the story is simple: When you need love, go surround yourself with people who love you. When you're hungry, go have a sandwich. Both are important. Either way, go hug your dog.