When we decided to get a dog we considered many factors; Both me and my hubby like walking, he missed owning a dog, I had always wanted to own a dog and I worked part time meaning the future dog wouldn’t be left on it’s own very much.
What we didn’t think about was how good a dog would be for my mental health as I have depression and anxiety. I already know I dislike most people and prefer being in the middle of no where with beautiful scenery (see photo above which I took in the Lake District) and limited amount of people. I also know that I prefer animals to people. What I didn’t know was that dogs are the best type of animal (I thought I was more of a cat person!).
One of the aspects of my illness is that I can be very lethargic and therefore very unmotivated at times but also have a huge guilt problem (as in always feel guilty about letting people down etc) but dogs do NOT like to miss their afternoon walk and will give you little hints (whining) if it looks like you may have forgotten. I feel guilty if I don’t take her so we go out.
As annoying as this is most of the time, when I am having bad days it makes me get up and take her out even if it’s just for a short time. I go across the fields or around the little lakes with her hearing the birds and seeing the rabbits and squirrels (usually with Mollie running full pelt after them) and I am reminded of all the beautiful things in the world. We meet other dogs and people, I can’t say I’m always a fan of this aspect but it takes me out of my own head which can only be a good thing.
Dogs are excited to see you no matter what. If I have a stressful day at work it is forgotten almost as soon as I open the door and a tiny furry thing starts excitedly belly crawling along the carpet and fetches you her current favourite toy. She also doesn’t mind if I can’t be bothered to get dressed or put any make up on either, I get the same enthusiastic greeting.
She is also always up for cuddles (even when I really don’t want them) plonking herself on my knee despite the fact I have a book already situated there which I then have to try and slide out from under her paws. While writing this she is sitting under the table with her head on my foot!
I wish humans could love the way dogs can, unconditionally. I have stood accidentally on her paw before making her yelp (oh the guilt) and she still wags her tail after and wants to cuddle me. We put her in the shower when she is muddy which she is scared of but she still wags her tail after and wants to cuddle me.
I also wish humans view life more like dogs. Instead of constantly thinking of the next thing, living in the moment. She just likes being out and about with me or hubby not caring where or how long for. Everything is exciting and interesting; that empty crisp packet, that stinky pile of dog poo, that leaf!
If nothing else she is my companion, working part time with a husband that works full time means 90% of the time it’s just me and her. She is now lying on the carpet behind me chair because heaven forbid we occupy different rooms!
Out of all the things I have used to try and help me to ease the symptoms over the years I have had my illness nothing has quite worked like owning a dog. Yes they are a lot of work, I suspect a bit like having a child at times, but they are more than worth it especially if you struggle with mental health problems. Animals are not vindictive or cruel, they do only what nature asks of them They don’t plot or try and manipulate, they tell you straight what they want. This is why they are just so much better than humans and we can learn so much from them.