How 9/11 Led Me to Dogs

A Bark reader and first responder tells her story
By Rose Russo, September 2011

I had worked as an NYPD police officer and detective for 13 years. On September 11, my life, like those of so many others, would be shattered by the events that took place that day, and my vision of retiring as a member of the NYPD abruptly ended.

As a result of injuries suffered as a responder to the World Trade Center, I was diagnosed with a condition known as Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a debilitating condition that worsens over time. My frustration grew when every doctor simply wished me luck and sent me on my way. No one could even explain the condition to me. All I knew was my nerves would continue to deteriorate. My body would continue to breakdown and I could very possibly end up in a wheelchair.

With this prognosis, I fell into a deep depression and needed to find something to bring some joy into my life. What would that cure be? DOGS! I enrolled in the New York School of Dog Training and found a new purpose for living.

Then I met Diane Zdrodowski, a breeder of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. I fell in love with the breed, and soon welcomed my first puppy Penny-Lane into my life.

Did you know that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are highly affectionate, playful and aim to please? With those beautiful bright eyes, they can melt hearts and make excellent companions.

My Penny-Lane knows when I am having good days and when I am having bad ones. There have been days when the pain confined me to the bed, and Penny-Lane would stay by my side.

So what’s better than one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, how about two? Penny-Lane and I welcome Lily-Pads into the pack, and together, they give me a reason to get out of bed and help other dogs and families with problematic dogs.

Rose Russo lives in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. She has been a Bark subscriber ever since she started RoCo Dog Training, Boarding and Grooming in Briarcliff.