Sophie & Biscuit
"My story begins before i was born;
The domestic violence shook the household to its skeleton before baby-me was ever in the picture. He was ruthless. I remember hiding under a desk, crouched in a ball, as my father hurled glass across the house, leaving it to shatter against the hardwood floors. I would scream until I blacked out. He sexually abused me. I was scared, and I was confused, and I was helpless. My earliest memories of this abuse were toddler-age. I hated him as much as my tiny, innocent body could hate another being. Growing up was hard, so I turned to my dogs. They were my only escape. There's a picture of me at four-years-old at the backdoor sitting in between our two beagles with my arms spread eagle around both of them. I told my dogs the secrets I could not dare utter to any human. They listened and they comforted me. I burrowed into their fur and cried.
I never stopped turning to dogs for help. Fast-forward to me at nineteen-years-old at college. A man whom I do not know targets me one night. That night was May 3, 2015, and it changed my life forever. The man followed me, kidnapped me, drugged me, then raped me. I did everything that I was "supposed to". I went straight to the hospital the next morning for a rape kit. I didn't know then that there's an incredible backlog on rape kits across the United States and that Orange County would happen to lose my rape kit. I pressed charges, and my rapist was arrested and charged with second-degree rape. He was never indicted. I wasted a year of my life in limbo in the criminal justice system waiting for an answer I would never receive. I like to say I was metaphorically raped by the system. If this happens to a middle-class white woman, imagine how it must be for anyone else.
Biscuit was my saving grace. Summer of 2015, I was on a fellowship in Namibia. The first trip I made when I returned home from Namibia was to the Forsyth County Animal Shelter. Cecil the "four-month-old Shepherd mix" was waiting for me there in a filthy metal crate. He was only twelve pounds, and unbeknownst to the shelter volunteers and me, he was going to grow to be ten times that size one day. Cecil was named for the African Lion that, at the time, had just been poached by the American dentist in Zimbabwe. Cecil looked like a little lion cub, but I thought he looked like a Biscuit more. I renamed him Biscuit in honor of the family that I had been staying with in Namibia. The children knew I was going to get a dog when I returned, so they would come back from school with long lists of possible dog names for me. Biscuit was our favorite.
I adopted Biscuit even though my mother told me I was too young and irresponsible to have a dog. I needed a dog. I thought I needed one before I was raped, but after the incident, it was undeniable. With Biscuit, I could walk down the street again without having a panic attack. I could find shelter away from my nightmares because he would be by my side, waiting to lick my hand. Biscuit barked at sketchy men, and kept me safe in the dark. I got him certified as an emotional support dog through my psychiatrist. This allowed me to bring him to the meetings I had with the police, the district attorney's office, and the Title IX Office at school. He got me through this period in my life that felt like a hazy vacuum of emptiness and fear. Biscuit saved me. Some people believe in God. I believe in Dog.
Today Biscuit loves playing with his sock monkey and his pickle chew toy. He is adjusting to life in the city, but enjoys rendezvouses on the rooftop dog park. Biscuit still helps me maintain stability. When I feel depressed or anxious, I wrap my arms around my 120-pound dog and burrow into his chest. It reminds me of when I was little with my childhood beagles. I would say I'm mostly healed from my many traumas. I'm better than I have ever been before, but that's not to say that I still don't have days when I feel my insides hollow and cracking or when my anxiety sends me into a scrambling pace up and down the hallways. I'm not sure if I believe in soulmates and true love for humans. It's a matter of fact, however, that I have found my soulmate and true love in canine form. Biscuit is truly my best friend."