The following story was submitted by Mrs. Amanda Spinosa. If you'd like to follow Ludo Clementine on Instagram: @ludo.and.sasha
"My childhood's dog name was Buster. One day when I was ten years old, my sister showed up with a tiny black and white pit bull puppy to my parent's horror and to my delight (although my parents quickly went from anger to love.) When he was young, his favorite thing to do was jump after our neighbor's tree branches that hung over our yard. While all of us were barbecuing and swimming in the pool, Buster would be incessantly jumping and barking at the tree branches. Watching it like a sports game, we were always rooting for him and every time he made contact with the branch, we would cheer in amazement. Gradually, the branch got shorter and shorter to the point where he could no longer reach it. My dad would have to physically pick him up and bring him inside because he never wanted to stop!! But, I guess he ultimately ended up saving my neighbors from having to call a tree trimmer.
The best part about having a dog is that you always have someone to listen to you, judgement-free, sort of like a furry therapist! And that was really valuable to me, especially as I got older. I was diagnosed with major depression at 15, so I needed all the support I could get. Whenever I was feeling low, Buster knew it and I honestly credit him a large reason why I'm still here today.
Buster was not your typical dog. He didn't go blind or have trouble walking as he aged; he behaved the same way at 5 as he did at 15. He was still extremely active--running up and down the stairs in the backyard. Even his vet was surprised at how healthy he was. When he died suddenly, we were all shocked. Yes, he was fifteen, but it was so sudden! Within a day, he died of hemangiosarcoma and we were all so devastated. I cried every day for months.
I have always grown up with a companion (before Buster there was Serena) so to have to live without one was very alien to me. I missed someone sleeping in the crook of my leg, the pitter-pat of his nails on the kitchen floor, and I didn't think I could live without him.
About a year before his death, my major depression diagnosis became bipolar disorder. Living with bipolar disorder isn't easy as I'm sure you can assume! It's very debilitating at time, leaving me bedridden. So, to live with this condition and have my best friend (of fifteen years!) ripped away from me so quickly, I was absolutely devastated. I couldn't distract myself no matter what.
I felt very judged for wanting a dog soon soon after Buster, but after talking through others who were going through the same situation, I realized that it was up to me and no one else. After going through doggie profiles on Petfinder, I fell in love with Ludo.
His name was Jupiter at the time--which I also loved--but I had always wanted a Ludo because I love the David Bowie movie Labyrinth. I didn't even really meet Ludo before adoption. A New Chance Animal Rescue came to my house to do a home check, and brought him with them--and I couldn't let him go.
He's the perfect combination of athlete and couch potato. He's very fit, and to this day holds the title of fastest dog at the park, even beating a greyhound (I swear!) He pushes me to be more active, which is great for my physical health, but also works wonders for my mental health, too!
We do everything together: car rides, hike, camp, swim, walk the bike trail, pick berries, go to farmer's markets, eat, and sleep together. I think I have more photos of him on our hikes than I do of anything else. He makes me feel safe and loved 24/7, and odds are you'll see me driving down the street with him strapped in right next to me.
Both he and I have come a long way in the past year. When I first adopted him, he was very anxious. He would constantly have accidents, hide and quiver in the corner of the room, walk with his tail between his legs and his ears down, refused to go on walks, and wouldn't even use the stairs. Every time he had to go outside, I had to pick him up and carry him. I saw a lot of myself in him.
Slowly but surely as his confidence grew, so did his abilities. His growth inspired mine, and his companionship allowed me to thrive and care for myself in a way that I didn't believe was possible before.
People may look at me and think my life is nothing special, but to me it really is. I went from being suicidally depressed for years, to thriving and being happy to be alive; I single-handedly credit Ludo for saving my life. He means more to me than anything in the whole world, and I feel like the luckiest person alive knowing that he's my best friend.