How My Dog Helped Me Manage My ADHD

My high-energy dog, Jasper, helped me cope with attention deficit disorder and made me value my ADHD traits.

Life with ADHD: Keith Bailey Mike Bizelli

I brought my Jasper home from a shelter when he was four months old. An effusive border collie, he chewed everything in sight and dug holes in the backyard as if he were on an archeological dig. The chewing and digging continued to the point that I thought about returning him.

Thank God, I didn’t. Jasper is 11 now, and he made the last decade the happiest of my life. His high-energy personality made me value my ADHD traits of creativity and ebullience. When we went for walks, his cuteness attracted passers-by. These chance meetings helped me crack through the social shell that I had grown over the years.

Jasper also forced me to follow routine, instead of my impulsive thoughts. In his middle age, his quiet presence has calmed my restless heart. Without his companionship, I would have never finished my book—Dear Mary: My Life with ADHD.

I remember sitting down to write one day, and the words wouldn’t come. So I paced around the house until they would. Jasper tagged along, as if we were strolling through the park. After several laps, I looked down at him, he looked up at me, and I laughed. He had freed me from writer’s block.

I sat down and wrote a chapter, aptly titled “The Jasper Effect.”

This article comes from the Winter 2009 issue of ADDitude.

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