A little background
I warn you now, this is going to be a bit personal, well for me. This post was inspired by a an organisation that sells products in the US, to help fund rescue dogs. One of their tops carries the above slogan, and it got me to thinking.
I wasn’t always a dog groomer. For quite a while, I worked in a job that exposed me to a number of incidents that led to high amounts of stress. As a result of a final incident, I ended up leaving earlier than I intended. For all the bad, it gave me a lot of good, and without it I wouldn’t be here now.
I didn’t realise at the time, what I was actually suffering was PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This was diagnosed some 10 years later, and also added the side effects of depression, anxiety along with a host of other inconveniences. I am now 5 years further on and although still have my off days, function quite well.
Rescue Dogs ?
This is where “Who rescued who?” comes into play. Sadly I lost one of my original pawpals a couple of weeks ago after nearly 13 years with us. Gutted would be an understatement. There were still however 9 dogs in the house. All bar one rescue dogs or rehomes. Most when they came had issues of one sort or another.
People ask me ” How do you manage with all of them?”. The truth is I know I wouldn’t have managed without them over the last few years. As part of my reading for my FdSc in Animal Science, and now my BSc, I have poured over quite a few books and journal articles. To date most reports of the benefits of dogs companionship for those with PTSD rely on anecdotal evidence. I feel I can add to that list.
I have also seen customers come to me with similar issues, who will also tell me their dogs form a more critical part of their lives. Its also one of the other reasons I work the way I do. Its relaxed, it creates an atmosphere which seems to bounce back and fore between human and canine. To date, my observations can’t be classed as scientific. I do hope in time to change that.
Time for a change
I would also like to see dogs keeping people like this company recognised as assistance dogs in the same way guide dogs and hearing dogs are. At present If I took one of my gang out to help with my hyper vigilance in crowded places, I would be limited on premises I could enter.
The words “Mental Health” still have a stigma attached to them. I don’t propose to start an argument over whether they are more widely used as a catch all, or whether we as a society are creating more problems. My main point for this blog, is to highlight the benefits I feel dogs can play in assisting those with Mental Health issues. I don’t suggest everyone go out and get a dog, but I would suggest there are many in rescue who would be glad if you popped down to volunteer and interact, you may just be surprised at the benefits you receive as well.
I would like to thank my gang for quite often maintaining my sanity ( along with my friends). Chances are you know at least one person struggling with Mental Health, whether they have told you or not. Just remember, they may not be ignoring you, they may just feel they don’t want to drag you into their hole