Written by Nicole

Benefsi or Nefsi for short, is without doubt, the single most important thing in my life. My relationship with him is often difficult to define, and certainly is difficult to make others understand. You see, Nefsi is not a pet, or a companion. Nefsi, quite simply, is a part of me, an extension of myself. If Moomkin makes the light in my life shine brightly, Nefsi is the one who led me far enough out of the tunnel to realise there was still light to be had.

Nefsi is my now retired Assistance Dog, we’d been a team for over four years, but due to joint issues he had to retire from work for his own health. That said we’ve been together the entirety of his life, he was born on my bed in Monterey, California and he’s been by my side ever since.

Nefsi has seen me through the best and worst days of my life. He’s comforted me while I sobbed and raged for reasons I couldn’t understand, stood by me through the shock and shame of admitting to the years of sexual abuse I had suffered, literally held my hand as I was diagnosed with complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and realised that who I was and the life I thought I’d have would never be the same. A lot of dogs offer their owners similar comforts through tough times in their lives. But Nefsi had much bigger role to fill.

When I stopped being able to leave the house (early onset of agoraphobia), it was Nefsi who led me out my front door, day after day. When the nightmares held me in their ferocious grip, it was Nefsi who woke me from them with slobbery kisses and let me cling to his neck until the terror subsided. When the panic attacks threatened to overwhelm the little freedom I had gained outside the house, it was Nefsi who learned to create space for me, to warn me of passerby’s coming to close, to ground me when my skin began to crawl and the hysteria threatened to break loose because someone accidentally brushed against me reaching for something in the grocery store.

It was always Nefsi who was there, who with my guidance taught himself the tasks he needed to be able to perform and give me the chance at living a “normal” life. Without him, I would have been a hermit, a recluse, reliving my worst memories hour after hour with no way of breaking free from the torment. Instead, I’m writing this blog… a blog that will document my travels very, very far from the comfort of my front door. Because of Nefsi, I have a life worth living. He’s been more than just my Assistance dog, more then a pet or companion, more then even a guardian… he’a a part of me, the very best parts of me: the bravery and stubbornness and determination to do more then just survive, to heal, to thrive, to LIVE. He’s is the beat of my heart, in every way, he is my best friend.