Hello! My name is Brittany....I love dogs. Big dogs, little dogs, fluffy dogs, spotted dogs, black dogs, white dogs, I just love all the dogs!
I wasn’t always like that, though. Due to limbic system impairment, I had severe noise sensitivity, in addition to my sensitivities to chemicals and light, and when I first began DNRS in January 2017, I was unable to leave my home or ride in a car. I spent most of my time in my bedroom. (For context, I do have a lot of other conditions in addition to the sensitivities
At the time, I had what felt like a continuous migraine that was always aggravated by the three types of stimuli I mentioned previously, but most especially, noises. And out of all the noises in the world, you can see where I’m going with this, one such noise that was particularly piercing and painful was the sound of a dog barking.
Yep, I had next door neighbors back then with dogs who could be very, very, loud.
The DNRS program started teaching me how to regulate my nervous system, how to change my thoughts, associations, prepare myself with visualizations and mental rehearsal, and then gradually add in some very small and controlled exposure therapy on my own terms.
My coach helped me come up with a plan to train on the sound of the barking.
Step one was to change the association. For seven years my brain had the association that dogs equaled barking and barking equaled terrible pain. I had developed a fear and aversion to dogs, which was so sad, because as a child, I had loved dogs!
Step two was writing down joyful memories of times when I had fun playing and cuddling with sweet and happy dogs for me to do visualizations about.
Step three was preparing an idea for a future visualization that included a dog. Hmm. My two favorite dog memories involved golden retrievers, so I made up a fictional golden retriever who I would take on my future visualization dventures with me such as my mountain hikes, Alaskan cruises, Paris trips, etc.
When I thought about what to name this happy floof, the name “Bodie,” popped into my head. I had watched a Star Wars movie pre DNRS with a character named Bodie and that seemed like a cute dog name.
Then I did my incremental trainings. I started slow. I downloaded an app onto my phone with animal noises, including a dog’s bark, turned the volume on my phone as low as it could possibly go, and then pushed the button to create the sound for a single quiet bark. That was enough to increase the intensity in my sound sensitivity symptoms and so I went into my round with a memory of playing with a golden retriever at a friends house, then hiking in the mountain with my future dog Bodie.
It felt so real and so good. I felt this love and joy for dogs that I had felt as a child and adolescent flood back.
My feelings towards dogs changed pretty quickly even though my sound sensitivity didn’t go away overnight. I kept working on regulating my nervous system, changing my thoughts and associations, and rewiring my brain. The sound sensitivity, along with the chemical and light sensitivities, all gradually lessened. It took another year and a half for all of my sensitivities to improve enough for me to be fully in public without ear plugs, but I did it!
My coach always told me, careful what you put in visualizations, it may just happen, and she was right.
Soon after I started visualizing Bodie, I wanted him to be real so badly. After seven years of being afraid of dogs because of the pain their barking caused me, I wanted nothing more than to have a pup of my own.
In order to manifest Bodie, there were two things I had to learn first.
I realized I had to accept every part of myself. And I had to learn to be okay with any potential future outcome. I had to love myself just as much when I was in pain as I did when I was in a low amount of pain. I had to love myself just as much when I couldn’t walk around the house as I did when I could go for 10-15 minute solo walks around the neighborhood by myself.
I decided that I had to accept a potential future of never being pain free, while also staying open to the possibility that it might change someday. I realized that I couldn’t be stuck on a certain outcome. I had to let go. Same with my physical ability. I would keep doing whatever I could do within my ability and my budget and schedule to improve my strength, but I couldn’t cling to a certain vision of ability for my future.
I felt like that meant I had to let go of my cherished visualizations of ever having my own dog, Bodie, because I wouldn’t be able to train him, and walk him, or care for him, and my mom had too much on her plate already being my sole caregiver and working full time to support us both and provide insurance for us.
But then I saw this https://youtu.be/iJPXhL5MdiU video on YouTube about a woman with a disability with an assistance dog, and everything clicked into place. If I could get a power wheelchair, and if Bodie could be my service dog, a whole new world of independence could open for me.
It took nine months for me to get my insurance to cover my power chair, but I finally have it! It took several months of research for me to find the right service dog organization, then several more months for the application process and interview process before I was approved to be on their waiting list, but now I’m on the waiting list and thanks to fundraising, we’ve raised the first deposit for my dog!
I’m still currently fundraising to get the rest of the funds for my dog and I will be matched with him or her next spring, then we’ll have a two week in person training together next fall in 2023. After that, he or she gets to come home with me for good to be my companion and helper.
If I had stayed in a place of resistance, I never would’ve been open to the possibility of a service dog. But I’m so glad that I get to have this experience because it’s going to change my life for the better, and I absolutely can’t wait to get the world's cutest caregiver.
SUPPORT BRITTANY & HER SERVICE DOG BODIE
Thank you community, for coming to the call. Brittany has been a beautiful part of the rewiring community for a long time and has brought so much joy to many of our lives through laughter, dance and her beautiful emotional intelligence. I hope that we can band together as a community to support her independence and her desire to live her values and uniqueness in the world.
AND! It only takes 1000 people offering 10$ to make $10,000! We could raise all of the money for them in a snap! You can follow the link below to read more about Brittany's story and her doggie, Bodie , as well as, the service dog company Brittany is working with.
PS: Did you know service dogs cost anywhere from $15,000-$50,000? And these are costs not covered by insurance. Any and all help is appreciated!
RYW - Ashley Lauren