Dog seatbelt safety. Those 3 words are more powerful than you know.
It’s more than buckling up your dog in case of a crash. It’s more than making sure your dog is traveling in a Center for Pet Safety certified product. It’s more than securing your dog so he/she doesn’t become a projectile, flying into you or out of the car.
It’s protecting the life you’ve got, because sudden loss will change you forever.
Today, you’re getting a peek inside my journey after the car crash.
Some weeks you’ll get tactical info that you can use with your dog, and some weeks, I’ve just got to share my experiences with you in hopes that it’ll make a difference and save lives.
You keep hearing me say, "I don't want you to go through what I went through."
But, it occurs to me that you don't actually know what I went through, because I haven't shared it.
With the 3rd Annual Piper's Walk coming up next month, I find myself constantly thinking back over the aftermath of the crash. It was a long road for me to finally be okay. 3 years actually. And to be perfectly honest, I think it's just a continuous journey. Except now, I've got a much better perspective.
So, deep breath, I'm finally at a place where I can share this info. If this story helps protect just 1 more dog in the car, or help someone through a challenging time, then it's worth it.
Here's the cliff notes version, of what exactly it is that I never want you to ever go through:
The day after Piper died was one of the worst. Because waking up without her meant I had to face the reality that she was really gone.
That day, I had to tell people what happened, talk to the lawyer, cancel all the swimming, acupuncture, and vet appointments. I laid on her bed and drowned in tears. I barely felt the physical pain from the broken limbs, because grief consumed my soul. When it was all done, I had the first of several panic attacks, and my journey into depression began.
I went through months of physical therapy and when I could, walked myself to yoga class because that was the only hour of my life I had some sort of peace.
I was consumed with rage - the driver who hit us got all of his traffic tickets dropped, because I didn't actually see him driving the car or getting out of his car. Hence, there was no proof he was the one driving. Come on, seriously? I was a little busy being pinned inside my crushed up car.
To this day, I'm still enraged by speeding drivers and knowing that there are no real consequences unless a human dies. A dog...is considered property. Makes me want to scream.
Going back to real life was terrible. Everyone was so happy I was coming back to work and I hated it. Accepting that the world keeps going on like nothing happened, well it sucked. I used to love my job, but I felt like I had no purpose anymore. And questioned on a daily basis - why am I still alive? Why didn't I die in the crash?
The depression and panic attacks were very real, and getting through the day...the hour...was like trying to breath under water and never really getting enough air.
And the guilt - ugh that I still wrestle with today.
Ironic thing is, I don't feel guilty not buckling up Piper. I didn't know about Center for Pet Safety then, and I'm certain she would've had some product that wouldn't have worked anyway.
I feel guilty for being on that road that night. No amount of therapy or anything anyone says can take that guilt away. It angers me when people make excuses for me. No matter how warped this perspective is, it's how I feel.
The driver who hit us is 100% at fault for speeding his car into us, whether the judicial system says so or not. I am 100% at fault for driving down that road and putting us in that situation, and I accept that I'll live with that forever.
However, everything happens for a reason.
It took me 3 years to get to the good place I'm in right now, and I choose to believe that Piper died, so I'd be inspired to get dogs traveling safely in cars.
Piper's Walk was created from grief, love, and the desire to make things right in the world. It's not okay that products can say "crash tested" but not pass Center for Pet Safety's crash testing standards. It's not okay that crash testing isn't standardized across the pet industry. It's not okay that some products could cause more harm than good, but they're still being sold to people who don't know the risk. It's not okay that dogs die in car crashes. It's not okay for families to end up heartbroken over something that can be prevented.
The 3rd Annual Piper's Walk is being held on August 23, 2020, which is actually Piper's birthday. She would have been 10 years old. In the past, it was held in June, which is the month of the car crash.
This year, and moving forward, I choose joy. I choose to celebrate Piper's Walk and honor the impact that Piper's memory will have on other dogs' lives, in a happy month instead of a devastating one.
I choose to be grateful for finding my way back to the surface and being able to breath deeply again. I'm here, to get dogs buckled up in cars in a Center for Pet Safety certified product, so no one ever has to go through what I went through.
So no dog has to go through what Piper went through. And families can enjoy long, happy lives together with their 4-legged best friends.
One day, maybe decades from now, it'll become mandatory for all brands of car safety restraints to pass rigorous crash test standards, and there'll be a law to buckle up your dog. But I don't believe that the change will happen from the top. I believe it starts here, with dog parents.
Dog parents who'll demand safety and quality. Dog parents who'll refuse to buy anything less than Center for Pet Safety certified. Dog parents who'll buckle up their dogs because they want to keep them safe, not because it's the law.
Dog parents are going to change the world. YOU're going to change the world and make sure the next litter of puppies rides in certified seatbelts. You're going to save lives.
And we're gonna do it together...because no one should ever have to go through what Piper and I went through.
That's why Piper's Walk exists.
Join me for a walk for dog seatbelt safety this August and let's make a change.