Yesterday, I was reading the incredible story of Mali - the special forces dog who's just been awarded a medal for bravery after sniffing out explosives and Taliban insurgents during a seven and a half hour gunfight in Kabul.
A grenade badly injured Mali's belly and legs, blew out a tooth and damaged his right ear, but still he kept going, being hoisted from one building to the next in a sling on his handler's back.
This story reminded me how incredibly loyal, brave and clever our furry friends can be.
The picture on this post is my scruffy terrier, Otto. He's not as well trained as Mali (in fact, he's barely trained at all), but he's my hero, nonetheless.
He sat by me, literally, his head on my tummy, as I recovered from treatment for breast cancer. And he was my very best sober buddy.
Here are three reasons why dogs are a sober girl's best friend:
1. They get you outside
However much you might want to hunker down at home and mope, your four legged companion is going to stare at you with those big, brown (unless you have a Husky) eyes until you take them out for a walk.
This is a very good thing, as exercise - especially outdoors - is incredibly good for your mental health, which is why the Japanese are so obsessed by what they call 'forest bathing.' It reduces stress and anxiety and boosts all your happy hormones.
Also, walking outside gets you away from all those booze-associations - the fridge, the wine rack, your favourite armchair, etcetera ad infinitum. Even I never took alcohol with me on a dog walk, even in the baddest of bad days.
2. They are masters of mindfulness
One of the best ways to get through the early days of sober is 'mindfulness': concentrating on the present moment and not worrying about not drinking forever and ever or what sins you might have committed in the past.
But mindfulness is incredibly hard. Which is why you need your own furry mindfulness guru to hand.
Dogs only live in the moment. They remind you of all the incredible things happening right now under your very nose. The thrill of a new path, splashing through mud, having a cuddle.
Just look at how much your dog loves life and you realise that booze really isn't necessary in order to discover joy in the everyday.
3. They love you, whatever, unconditionally
By the time most of us quit drinking we can be pretty hard on ourselves. We spend an awful lot of time examining our flaws and fretting over past misdemeanours.
Our dogs remind us that we are completely loveable, imperfections and all. They don't judge, they just lick.
If you don't have a dog already, then think of all the money and time you'll be saving by not drinking and consider spending some of it on a new friend.
Don't buy a puppy, find a rescue dog. A dog who deserves a second chance at life and a whole load of love, just like you do.
Please tell me about your own furry friends in the comments below....
By the way, new on the SoberMummy Facebook page: some inspirational wisdom from Winne-the-Pooh, and the story of Robert Downey Jr, and how he beat his addictions. I wonder if he has a dog.
(To go to the Facebook page, click here. 'Like' to stay updated).
Love SM x