Sarah's Dogs

Pet therapy and mental health

Sarah Alexander is a disability and lifestyle blogger, as well as a Motability Scheme customer. In this article, Sarah discusses the importance of her dogs and how they help her mental health.

Growing up my family always had dogs. I was one of those children that would get extremely excited when I’d see a dog in the street, and quite frankly, I’m still that person. I will actively go out of my way to meet a dog on the opposite side of the road because they bring me so much joy. My family work with dogs and we’re all huge fans of our puppers.

I have two dogs, Teddy (almost two years old) and George (nine months). They’re both Cockapoos and are the sweetest, most lovable boys. They’ve not been in my life for long, but they have already made such a huge impact on me and my boyfriend. I talk about them to everyone and am totally in love with them.

Animal lovers know; they just get that pets are part of the family and they’ll understand me swooning over my pups.

They bring me so much happiness and being around them really boosts my mental health.

As I live with chronic pain, I spend a lot of time at home and it is very isolating. I wanted a little companion that would cheer me up and give me something else to focus on. Teddy entered my world and quickly began reading my pain and anxiety levels immediately. He was aware my boyfriend was more physically able than me; he knew my limits and didn’t push me.

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Sarah with Teddy (left) and George (right) 

When he was really young, I had a fall and he alerted my boyfriend immediately. He would (and still does) lick my painful joints as if nursing me better. He also acts like heat therapy and stays very close to whatever painful bit of me is hurting. George does this, too.

Dogs are wonderful animals and they can actually smell inflammation or any changes in the body chemistry as it gives off a particular odour that isn’t noticeable to humans but is to dogs.

When flaring and spending a lot of time in bed, my pups are right by my side. Despite the fact that I am really struggling, it really helps knowing that they’re there and I can cuddle them at any time and not feel alone. My fluffy boys help with my chronic pain but they’re also hyper aware of when I am feeling down and do what they can to support me.

As a sufferer of depression and anxiety, I can have really low days. It’s like the world has swallowed me up and I am so sad that I can barely open my eyes without crying. It’s overwhelming and it feels like there’s no way of breaking free from the darkness. Then Teddy and/or George will jump on the bed and lie with me. They don’t do anything special; they don’t climb all over me or annoy me, they just get as close as they can and stay there. We usually take a nap and I’ll be chaperoned to the bathroom or kitchen, and back to bed. They don’t leave my side. They know I’m struggling and even though they can’t talk me through it or give me a cuddle, their presence is enough.

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George (left) and Teddy (Right) 

Not only that but they get me out of the house and sometimes that is exactly what I need to combat the battle that is going on inside my head. I need a change of scenery, I need to see people, I need to do something! This always lifts my mood and if it wasn’t for my cute little canines, I would most probably still be in bed.

Unlike a few of my disabled peers, my dogs are not assistance dogs. When we decided on getting a puppy, it wasn’t to specifically help me do anything but be a friend and although we have taught them quite a few ways to help me out, they are not working dogs like the incredibly trained animals that help and save people daily.

It’s a big statement but Teddy and George have saved me in more ways than they know. They’re the best therapy.

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