i paint i write

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A puppy named Annie to comfort and reduce anxiety

Our puppy was born on January 2nd, 2015. We named her Annie. When she is old enough, she will be trained to be a therapy dog. She will visit children in hospitals and the elderly in retirement homes.



I thought she would only help others; I didn’t realize how much she would help me.

I found an article in a doctor’s office. Five ways to reduce anxiety. One of the items on the list was to take care of a pet. Maybe if I had more pets I would be less anxious? Perhaps four cats and one dog is not enough? Or maybe I need more than seven litter boxes so I don’t have to clean them all every day.

And, lately, I have been anxious.

Sometimes everything I have to do is in my head at the same time. All speaking loudly, demanding my attention: pay the bills put the wet laundry in the dryer vacuum the carpets straighten the shoes by the door watch the video on how to use inDesign read the book about Memoir Writing by Marion Roach Smith feed the cats clean the litter boxes call my mother illustrate my book paint a painting learn how to make videos write a children’s picture book make supper load the dishwasher unload the dishwasher sweep the kitchen floor …

and then I take a deep breath, five of them, and take the puppy for a walk. I hold her close to my face and she leans into me and relaxes. Calm and serene she quiets the voices in my head.

The mess in my head sorts it self out. I chose to do one thing.


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Do you have a pet? Does your pet help calm you when you are anxious? Please reply in the comments. As always I would love to hear from you.

p.s. For the month of March I will be writing daily slice of life stories for the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Slices of my life, sharing to encourage and bring laughter. You can click on the link to read other stories.

Four years ago I did the challenge and I met many writers and made friends. I am excited to see them again this month.

Love Pamela

About Pamela Hodges

I write slice of life stories to help you know you are loved, valuable and worthy just as you are. I am a writer, an artist, and a cleaner of seven litter boxes. I live in Pennsylvania with one husband, four cats, one dog and two birds.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • jesspetersonart

    Your puppy is so cute!
    And I know exactly what you’re talking about when you have everything on your mind….I feel like that all the time, and I wish I could multiply myself so I could do all those things at once. It would be good for me to learn how to prioritize and balance…because it’s easy for me to get hyper focused on a project and neglect many other things. It helps me if I make a list. They say if you write something down, you’re much more likely to do it. Otherwise, like you were saying, everything is swimming around in my head, and it all feels too important. But I think you chose the right things- to walk puppy and then draw 🙂

    • Hello Jess,
      I will try your idea and write down what I have to do. I find it hard to concentrate if I have a deadline, then the mess in my head screams louder. I have a deadline tonight, so I am playing the sound of rain on my headphones.
      It is blocking out the other noises. One thing at a time.
      The puppy helps too.
      What would a room full of Jess’s look like? I wonder if you would get everything done on your list, or would all of you want to draw?

      • jesspetersonart

        lol! That’s a good question…if there were a room full of Jess’s, ….what would all of me do? one would be drawing, one would be taking photos, one would be trying to finish my clay head…one would be dancing to loud music…. 🙂 Some people do well with deadlines, in fact they probably wouldn’t get something done without a deadline….I know a few people who procrastinate until the last day or the last hours, and then BAM-they get it done. (That would stress me out doing things last minute.) Other people are stifled by deadlines…. I’m still trying to figure out which person I am.

  • Teresa

    I have a Shih Tzu named Piper. He gets me out of the house, into the fresh air. I get face and ear kisses. He plays keep away with his small tennis balls. He likes to shake stuffed toys and he is comical when he flings the toy away from him. Watching him try to walk on the ice and snow in TX a few days ago had me smiling and giggling. He is my stress reducer

    • Hello Teresa,
      Your dog sounds so fun. Do you have a photograph of him you can share? Perhaps the best part of having a puppy to help us giggle is they take us out into the fresh air. It is hard to have anxiety when we get face and ear kisses.
      All my best,

      • teresa

        my Piper, he will be 10 yrs old in May

        • teresa


  • My parents got a sweet, fluffy, little dog last year and my kids are completely enamored with her. She’s such a joy. She’s great for my sons who are 4 and 7 but also for my parents who are much older than 4 and 7. It’s neat to see how she impacts us.

    I just finished The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown last week and loved it. It’s a great read when thinking about visual literacy and how we express ourselves through drawing/doodling. Highly recommended!

    • Hello Jen,
      How fun your parents got a dog. It sounds like she is a joy to have around. Please share a photograph of her, I will show it to Annie and Martha, our Chocolate Lab.

      And, THANK YOU, for the book suggestion. I love drawing and doodling. The doodle is for a book I wrote about believing in your ability to create. Oh, it is the free book you get when you subscribe, “The Artist’s Manifesto.”

      Thank you for stopping by.

  • La McCoy

    Hi Annie, My name is Edelweiss. I am a puppy advocate. You look very happy and relaxed now. But let me know if you need any advocacy. Love Edelweiss. PS Mom keeps looking for the video Pooh made of you. I hope Martha is in it.

    • Hello Edelweiss,
      I will tell Annie you said hello. She is sleeping now. Oh, Edelweiss, I have such trouble figuring out computer stuff. But, I will try again tomorrow. Martha says hello as well. Pooh says hello too. As do Nepeta, JR, and Charlie.

      • La McCoy

        Hello to all. Edelweiss

  • Pamela- I have two dogs. They are my studio assistants. They force me to go on walks and runs. They relax me so I can paint with an unfettered mind!

    • John,
      Two studio assistants, you are a fortunate artist. Do they help you help you paint as well?
      What are your puppies names? Do you have a photograph to share?
      All my best,

      • Meet Nanuk, the miniature husky (KleeKai) and Chug, the chihuahua/pug mix. They provide moral support, critiques and studio company!

        • John,
          Thank you for sharing your puppies. They look very intelligent.

  • Robn Patrick

    I LOVE Annie! What a doll. And so happy she will become a therapy dog, although she already is! I originally planned to train our Jemima girl to be a therapy dog but life kind of got in the way and she became my round the clock therapy girl. Having Jemima with me during cancer was such a gift.(she even got to go to my radiation doctor with me) Annie and your family have years of fun times and sweet times ahead.

    • Hi Robn,
      So nice to see your smiling face this morning. Jemima sounds like a real treasure. I am glad she helped you during your cancer. Getting to spend time with you would always be a treat. Sending you love and hugs and prayer.

  • No, I don’t have a pet. Perhaps it would calm my anxiety as well, but I think not at the present time. Still, your little one is cute, Pamela. Hope she reduces your anxiety.

    • Hello Anne,
      So nice to hear from you. Annie says hello too. She really likes your name. 🙂
      I pray your anxious thoughts will go away.

  • Berdeane Bodley

    In all your mixed up thoughts , the one I liked the best was, “call my Mother” :-), happy to hear “Annie” is keeping your stress level down. I’m still missing Friday……….love you!!

    • Hi Mom,
      It was so nice to hear your voice this morning. Nothing like a mother’s love to take some of the stress away.
      Annie says hello. Perhaps the next dog will be called Friday. 🙂 I love you too.

  • GirlGriot

    Annie is so adorable!! I sometimes wonder if anything in the world is better than a golden retriever puppy. I agree that pets are therapeutic. As you know, I’m in the middle of a stressful time with my cats, but even with the truth of that, they’re still therapeutic. I’m glad Annie helps calm your anxiety, and glad you chose to draw!

    • Hello Stacie,
      And hello to your cats. I hope they are feeling better. Annie says hello to you. One day I hope you make the trip out here, you will have four cats to sleep with you, and two dogs to walk.

      • GirlGriot

        One day I’m going to make that visit, Pamela … and I’ll remember to bring my Claritin (because of course I’m also allergic to cats!)!

  • amy brennan

    Such a sweet puppy! We just got a puppy too- it is amazing how therapeutic dogs can be.

    • Hello Amy,
      What is your puppies name? I hope she brings you much joy.

  • JeNan Merrill

    Annie is precious and I am glad she is helping you even before she is trained to help others. So good to read your slices again!

    • Hello JeNan Merrill,
      I am so happy to hear from you. I have missed you. Annie says hello.

  • Molly Hogan

    Your dog is adorable. I love how you listed all your pressured thoughts without punctuation—my stress level increased just reading it—probably my blood pressure as well. Very effective! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hello Molly,
      Thank you for your kind comment. I hope my lack of punctuation didn’t cause you too much stress.
      All my best,

  • I have three dogs, 12 birds, a cat, and a lucky 3-year-old fish. I love visiting with our birds. I also love to keep food out for wild birds. It is so relaxing watching them. Your picture of your puppy is so cute.

    • Hello Mary,
      Wow, I thought I had a house full. What is your cats name? My cat Pooh is a writer He even has his own blog. He dictates and I type.
      What kind of birds do you have?

      • My cat’s name is Perry because my daughter loved the Disney show, Phineas and Ferb. I have parakeets. My dogs are mixed mutts, but beautiful. 🙂

  • nerdndorknskoots

    Our dog Kylie is super anxious and nervous. However, she has taught us that we need to teach people how to handle her. She is just afraid like a person would be. It has been a challenge, but we have accepted it! I hope your amazing puppy will be a great therapy dog!

    • Hello nerdndorknskoots,
      You are so thoughtful to help people understand Kylie. Do you have a photograph to share? With your love and support she will gain confidence. 🙂

  • My husband and I are living in a white dog world. Puck is a Westie Terrier mix. Snug is a Schnauzer mix w/ some poodle in his gene pool. Both of our furry friends rescued us from the pound.

    • Hello Glenda,
      There is nothing quiet like the love of a dog to rescue us. Please share a photograph of Puck and Snug.
      I would love to meet them.

  • Stacey Shubitz

    I can’t believe Pooh will have competition.

    I was just thinking about you the other day… hoped I would see you back. And here you are!

    • Hello Stacey,
      I have missed reading your stories. It is so nice to be back slicing.

      Thank you for stopping by to say hello.