Follows me into surfBuster on the BeachBuster & friends

Let Buster Lead
My Discovery of Love, PTSD and Self-Acceptance
Publisher: Sunstone Press


When Earl and Deborah's homebred puppy died, they went to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter to find a companion for the puppy's lonely mother. That's where they met Buster, a handsome border collie. Always looking for work, Buster hated to be idle. When he wasn't patrolling the neighborhood, he was a great squirrel-chaser, a Frisbee and ball retriever or an excellent hiking and shopping companion. It took a few years for Deborah to let herself become attached to Buster,  but once she did, he became the "love" of her life.

"…I felt devastated by another death in our family, and was angry at the Universe (my term for the Powers that hold life together). I had vowed to never let myself love a new person or pet again. But we needed a good companion for Thundercloud; this was going to be her dog, not mine."

"…One evening, he came home with lipstick on his face. A florescent pink mouth print, smack on the middle of it. The nerve of some woman! I felt jealous. To deserve the love of this beautiful creature, I decided to do more to keep him. But I didn’t know how I was going to find the time."

When Buster was eleven, Deborah fell off her horse and broke five bones. About a year later, she was reluctant to go out in public or attend large gatherings because she was still exhausted and irritable from the experience. She also didn't want to be touched by anyone, even her husband. Soon, she began to scream or freeze when suddenly approached by a moving car or person. Even though she and her husband were seeing a therapist to help with their marriage, nobody realized that Deborah was one of the millions of people who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and don't know it.

"…I saw a friend speeding toward me, smiling. His arms were open wide in greeting. My throat locked. My knees tightened. I couldn’t breathe. My hands flew in front of me to protect my body and I stepped backwards, terrified. My mouth opened, but my throat felt paralyzed and I couldn’t scream. Instead, I heard myself making high-pitched noises that sounded like 'Huhgh. Huhgh.' When I backed into a huge ficus tree planter, the man stopped walking. He looked at me with a shocked and bewildered expression. 'It’s me,' he said. Then he said his name. I heard the name and knew he was an old friend, but there was no recognition."

After she discovered what she had, by a total co-incidence, she was able to accept her frightening disability and get treatment. Buster also had a job helping her get back into life. He became her official service dog, and stayed by her side in public places.

Deborah wrote this book as a tribute to Buster. It describes her experience with PTSD symptoms, how Buster helped her discover she had the disease, and how he and several therapists helped her get well. When a friend was describing his crumbling marriage and imminent divorce to Deborah, she said, "You need to read my manuscript. Your wife has PTSD. Her behavior sounds just like mine a year after my accident." The couple's youngest child had died a year earlier. After reading the first draft of Deborah's story, her friend wrote her a note saying, "We spent over a year going to counselors and doctors. You diagnosed the problem in 20 minutes." Now their marriage is back to normal.

Deborah hopes her story will help many others who have endured traumas of all kinds. She also hopes it will help people with any disability overcome their obstacles, both public and emotional. And she's sure that pet lovers will enjoy Buster's story.