A Loyal Dog Never Quits

How Dogs help Owners with Mental Health

By @pipers_lyrics

This week’s guest blog comes from our Explorer Piper and her hu-mum Amy. Our furry pals can be a great source of comfort, companionship and motivation for dog owners in many ways, particularly when it comes to mental health. Piper is sharing her experience of helping Mum, Amy through the struggles of anxiety and how becoming an Explorer has helped her to live the best life possible.

Dog_Furiendly_069

Hiya, I’m Piper!

I’m a one year old, playful cockapoo pup from Wales. I love adventures, meeting new people and poochies, swimming and my toys Squeaky Octopus, Duck and Lamb.

This week I need to discuss an important issue, and in my opinion it’s not barked about enough! Dog owners across the world have mental health issues, and it’s our duty as furry sniffers to stick by their side. Read my story below on how I took the role of superhero and helped my Mum through anxiety.

My humum and I have a very special bond, the day she collected me and took me to my forever home was her first night there as well.
She wanted us to move in on the same day and start our adventure together.

We had so much fun and set about making our house a cosy home. We went on daily adventures and attended puppy classes, everything we did was together and pawfect.

I noticed at the start of last year my humum began changing, she seemed nervous on our adventures and play dates with friends became less. She started to get nervous doing our daily routines.

A few times I would find her sad and crying before she left for work, I was sad as she was leaving me but this was different.

Our weekend adventures changed from all day events to early mornings, there were less doggies to play with, but humum was by my side so I took on the role of protecting her. I could sense her unease if someone started talking to us and I would stand in front of her so they couldn’t get too close.

How Dogs help Owners with Mental Health

Some evenings we would just lie in silence on the sofa, I would snuggle in close and lick her tears, even tried sharing my favourite toys with her to make her smile again.

Neither of us seemed to know what was wrong, but as the months rolled by, humum found everything harder. She wondered if she were going “crazy” and said no one understood her like I did.

I kept pushing her to be out and about and made sure she knew I was always there for her and would protect her.

She eventually sought help and realised she was dealing with extreme anxiety, she attended CBT classes, went to the doctors lots and attended counselling and I was with her every step of the way.

We started going out during the daytime more and humum found a website called Dog Furiendly that was hosting a doggy Easter Egg hunt last year. She plucked up the courage to book us a ticket and we went together as a team.

I could sense humum was nervous, but I started playing with all the other dogs and she began to relax, chatting to other dog owners about me and taking all focus away from her.

How Dogs help Owners with Mental Health

When the chance to apply to be a doggy explorer came up my mum sent a private message to Dog Furiendly, she was too nervous to do the public post, and we managed to be accepted and invited to an induction day.

Humum pushed herself for me and she even says the reason she got out of bed during those months were to make me happy, as I was always there for her, she wanted to give me the best life possible.

Fast forward a year and my humum is back to her old happy self, we have a great social life again and she no longer spends her evenings crying or having panic attacks at the thought of doing everyday tasks.

We are not 100% there and some days there are set backs, but the bond we have will never be broken and I know my humum will never forget how I helped her through her worse days and how close we are because of it.

My mum was ashamed of her struggle and felt it was something to keep a secret, but now she and I feel that the stigma needs to be removed.

How Dogs help Owners with Mental Health

Amy (humum): Mental health was always something I had sympathy for, but honestly never really understood. That was until just over a year ago.

It started slowly, beginning to feel nervous in normal situations, starting to always imagine the worst case scenario happening in everyday tasks, feeling lightheaded and my vision blurred. I was scared and began to think I was going insane. I shyed away from social events, which isn’t me at all, I hated going to work as driving there was a huge ask, I couldn’t even walk Piper.

One day I had an awful morning drive and broke down in the car park before going into the office, that was when I knew I had to do something. I messaged my nearest and dearest and they gave me the support to seek help from my GP. I’ve done the medications, the insomnia side effects, CBT classes, endless hours of counselling to try and get me back to who I knew I was.

Somedays I thought I’d never get there and it was all pointless.

My closest friends started a group chat with me where we celebrated each mini win of my day- making it out of bed, driving to work, saying hello back to someone who approached me while walking Piper.

It was the hardest year of my life in all honesty and there were days I didn’t think I could go on.

I still have hard days, but I look back a year ago and see how far I’ve come and realise I should always celebrate my journey.

How Dogs help Owners with Mental Health

if it wasn’t for Piper I don’t know where I would be today. She helped me more than anyone will ever know. Joining Dog Furiendly and removing focus from myself and onto her has completely changed my life, I feel like “me” again. The bond Piper and I have is so strong and I can never thank her enough, all I can do is make sure she has the best possible life with me forever.

Many of you may think I’ve become a “crazy dog lady” but Piper was the biggest help in getting me back to myself and accepting a part of my life I spent so many months ashamed of. I found Dog Furiendly and it gave me an escape, a focus that wasn’t on me and a community of people who just wanted to enjoy time with their dogs.

I can never thank my amazing family, friends, work colleagues and pawsome Dog Furiendly family enough for the last year and to those I pushed away, cancelled on or just didn’t show up to meet–I’m sorry.

Anyone going through similar, it’s hard and it’s scary but reach out! There is always a helping hand.

I’m no longer ashamed of my struggle and I have written a blog from Piper’s perspective, as it was easier to do than from mine.

It’s okay not to be okay

How Dogs help Owners with Mental Health

Have you been through a similar experience? Share your stories below on how dogs have helped owners with mental health.

Follow Piper’s adventures via Instagram @pipers_lyrics or her brother @ramseys_rambles

4 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Sara March 28, 2019 Subscriber

    Great story. I had a puppy in October and he has completely changed my life. Before I was in unhappy relationship and suffered with anxiety.
    Two months after I got Tedi I ended the relationship and my life has been really busy going in lots of walks and meeting lots of people.

  2. Eleanor March 28, 2019 Subscriber

    I feel as though I have written this!…..but couldn’t find the words how it ended!
    Thank you for inspiring me and giving me courage to move on with my 6 month old Cockapoo pup Ollie who is my saviour 🐾💙

  3. ootydog March 28, 2019 Furiend

    Truly inspired and love this post. It’s not talked about enough!
    Here goes…
    When I was 15 I was diagnosed with anorexia and was admitted to hospital and then an inpatient unit for the next year of my life. I gave up. I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to live anymore. I was truly depressed. I hated being forced to gain weight. I hated everything and everyone. I went to sleep hoping I somehow wouldn’t wake up the next day. I wanted to disappear. I took all 23 GCSE exams whilst feeling this way.
    After 6 months of admission with no leave from the unit, my mum brought up the idea of getting a puppy. I turned a corner, worked towards getting some sort of leave after 7 months. I got home leave to get my exam results – which I had not only passed but got A* in nearly all subjects (sorry I’m super proud of them haha!).
    I got discharged in October 2018. 5 months later, I’m sat at home with my golden retriever puppy, Ooty. I mean this from the bottom of my heart… I wouldn’t be here without my dog. He is my lifeline and I will be forever grateful.
    I know my story is just one of many, and I hate talking about it, but just wanted to share to say you’re not alone and how things really can change for the better if you work hard! 🙂

    Ella xxx

  4. TomHarperPhotography March 29, 2019 Furiend

    Life is tough and it really is difficult sometimes to explain the impact that a dog can have on our lives. It’s amazing how far you have come in your journey so far and never forget that people are there to help when you need it. xxx

Leave your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.