Spend five minutes online and you're bound to come across stories of humans saving animals in need.
They pull cats from dumpsters, puppies from boxes on the side of the road, and old dogs from painful lives spent on dirty street corners. They do important work for those who cannot do it for themselves -- animals that rely on human kindness that will never come.
But if you have a pet, you know that they do just as much saving. They do it every day. They curl up in our laps when we're crying and run around like crazy when we're laughing. They sit on the floor next to us when we're too tired or too stressed or too sad to get up. Shannon Kopp knows that better than anyone. Had it not been for the love of shelter dogs, she may never have gotten up again.
The lifelong animal lover and accomplished writer dealt with more than her fair share of hard knocks growing up. Her dad, although a loving man, struggled with addiction. She dealt with a few demons herself, and those demons almost killed her.
For years, Kopp fought an eating disorder that often left her feeling broken down and isolated. "My eight-year battle with bulimia started with a plan to lose some weight. Not to lose my teeth and hopes and dreams," she writes.
But as the years wore on, that disorder slowly stole everything. In an effort to regain control, she saw therapists. She took medication. She spoke to strangers on hotlines across the country in an effort to feel grounded from where she sat, and sat, and sat next to the toilet that collected every meal when it came back up.
But all of that changed when she stepped into the San Diego Humane Society. Therapy never worked, prescriptions never helped, but shelter dogs saved her.
In her words, "It was there, in dirty kennels and tiny rooms, that an unexpected and transformative kind of healing took place."
"The anxious and broken person who walked into the kennel faded into the background, and in its place, there was simply an outpouring of love between a girl and a dog."
As anyone who has ever suffered with emotional or psychological trauma will tell you, those wounds linger. But instead of making room in the pit of her stomach, Kopp now spends her days making room in her heart for the dogs that come into her life and change it forever.