Health and Well-being

How my dogs helped with my mental health

‘Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not in fact, just surrounded by idiots’

This little mental health quote is from a meme that I saw flying around on social media and it really made me belly laugh.  Did you know that you’re the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with?  It’s no wonder that sometimes we can feel down.  Choose your friends and colleagues wisely!

I’ve battled with my mental health on an off since I was about 11, when my mum first got diagnosed with breast cancer.  I thought I’d share this part of my story with you this Mental Health Week, particularly as Mums birthday falls on 19th May.  I’ll be honest, I was an absolutely nightmare to deal with and even worse to live with.  I was really anxious all the time, I hated being away from home, my mind would run away with me and I was a massive overthinker.

We eventually lost mum to her battle with cancer in 2007.   I was 18.  As you can imagine it was really bloody hard.  The one constant companion by my side was my little Patterdale, Ebony.  You may have heard me mention her previously.  She was an absolute devil dog!  She got ASBO’d, went through glass doors to chase people, fell down a manhole, got kicked by a horse and was a pretty good Houdini too!

The loss of a parent can impact you mental health

Despite her many flaws, Ebony was the BEST companion.  She was my birthday present when I was 7 and she stuck by my through thick and thin.  I told her all my secrets and she always knew if I needed a cuddle.  Ebs was also a great company to mum in her last few months, always by her bed ready for a fuss.

For most of my life I’ve seen counsellors of some sort either organised via LOROS (who were the most amazing people) or privately.

There’s no doubt that having a dog in our life can really help with improving our mental health.  We get out and about with them, we have their company and they depend on us, giving us a reason to get up and out in the mornings.  There’s even therapy dogs who are taken into schools, hospitals and the local communities helping people and bringing a smile to peoples faces.  Maybe we could all be more dog? Learning to live in the moment and appreciate the small things.

From corporate to business owner…

For me it was Paddy, my current Patterdale terrier who made me jump from the corporate world into dog grooming.  I had an absolutely awful manager who I clashed with and sure enough I soon became filled with dread going to work, I’d cry on my way to work and on my way home.  Always wishing Friday would hurry up and my stomach would be doing knots on a Sunday evening.  It was an awful time and sure enough I found myself back in therapy trying to sort my head and emotions out.

I wanted to learn to handstrip Paddy myself.  My career wasn’t going anywhere so I took the plunge and moved away from the corporate world.  Everyone told me I should have gone part time before transitioning into such a different career but I couldn’t bear the thought of it.  I found a local salon to train at and that’s where I met Selina, the idea of The Dog House was born and the rest, as they say is history!

Dogs can always help our mental health!

Now I look forward to getting up and I love my drive to work with Prim by my side (paddy likes a lie in now he’s getting older).  We share our lunchtimes together and we have lots of cuddles.  Plus I get to spend my day cuddling and playing with your dogs too!

Make sure you get chance to get some down time with your dog this week.  You’ll never regret spending time with your dogs!

7 thoughts on “How my dogs helped with my mental health

  1. Hi Anna. Thanks for sharing your story and well done for the amazing progress you’ve made with your life. And you are so right about the impact our dogs have in our lives and the absolute joy they bring us.

  2. Evening Anna, couldn’t agree more with your comments on the importance of our doggy friends. I can imagine how tough it was for you, losing your Mum, and no doubt continues to be so. By the way, you look so like her! Missy was a decision which I eventually made with encouragement from my son and daughter after losing John, my dear husband, in 2016. She keeps me smiling and shakes me out of the blues on a bad day. I don’t know where I’d be without her. Well done on the success of your business alongside Selina!

    1. Hi Vicki, thanks for your kind words! I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. Glad Missy keeps you entertained, she is a funny girl, they’re such good company.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You should be so proud to reflect on the positive changes you have made and how far you have come. You were very brave to take such a big step, but look at what you have achieved, definitely the right decision. It’s been such a pleasure listening/reading your blogs, classes, lives etc during lockdown, and to think this was all new in the beginning, now a complete professional 😊. You have definitely helped keep me sane, that 15-30 mins per day I looked forward to.

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