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Who is Tophy?: A Personal Experience with an Emotional Support Animal

You can find him well-dressed, nestled in the cushions of the couch, often times dreaming. Tophy is a sad-looking, most-of-the-time terrified, ball of love. Dogs have trauma, too. I rescued Tophy when he was about one, all skin and bones, but he also rescued me. He was my light during a lot of darkness. I have three dogs and can speak for others when I say that Tophy is truly a special animal. He feels your feelings deeply and will make sure you know that he’s aware of your pain: he will cry with you. He does not play with dog toys or engage with other dogs – he loves people! And he will remember you.

The best is when someone hasn’t been in for a while and Tophy will enthusiastically welcome the client back with tail wags and down dogs. His gift is providing endless love and countless smiles to all of the humans he encounters. In fact, 90% of the time he is greeted before me as clients enter the office. He makes it a sacred space and makes it easy to connect to people in a nonthreatening way, especially in those very first sessions.

I even have some clients who get genuinely affected when he is NOT there. I used

to bring him in for my own comfort (and because he has separation anxiety), but now if you

asked me, I would tell you I bring him in for my clients. As the old adage goes, “Who saved


Alessandra Macca is a Registered Mental Health Intern at Cypress Wellness Center. In her therapeutic work, she uses the art process as a unique vessel of expression. Approaching each session with kindness, curiosity, compassion, and playfulness; recognizing each client and their individual experiences. She specializes in trauma and PTSD, anxiety, and seeing children and adolescents.

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