As I walked my dog down the beach path early this morning I had a moment. I looked at the sky, the trees, two lorikeets flew past and I smiled. My life is very different now compared to the dark days that nearly ended it.
A large part of my newfound contentment in recovery is my beautiful dog, Baylee. My plan was to foster dogs who’d been abandoned, smother them in love and then wave them goodbye as they headed off to their forever home.
It didn’t quite go to plan.
I’m not sure what Baylee’s life was like before he ended up at Animal Welfare League Queensland at ten years old. When I first brought him home he was shaken, bony and too scared to make eye contact. I sat on the kitchen floor to hand feed him, told him he was beautiful and sang to him at bedtime.
Nine months later he’s rounder than he was. His eyes are brighter, his coat is healthy and our bond is strong. His tail wags whether he’s awake or asleep. He snores very loudly and it makes me smile no matter what time it is.
Every day I’m thankful for Baylee rescuing me.
Dogs can be brilliant for people living with depression. He gives me a reason to get up in the morning and a reason to get outside when I could otherwise choose to hide.
Days feeling paralysed with fear have fallen away. Being around dogs can calm down our breath, speech and minds. Research has shown the healing power of touch; stroking a dog can reduce stress. It can also lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Laughter and love both release the chemical serotonin, which is known as the ‘feel-good’ chemical in our brain. Now serotonin is being flooded around my body every day, those symptoms of depression have decreased.
This is all really good news for introverts!
Dogs are distracting which is good news for anyone with a mind that sometimes races.
My little dog trusts me and that gives me a giant lift. It’s been good for me to have a responsibility outside work. Depression research has shown that responsibility promotes mental health and caring for another creature builds self-esteem.
There is an unconditional love which is hard to describe until you’ve felt it.
Some of the people I interview for work have had really difficult lives. Their stories are intense and phone call interviews can be emotionally draining. Taking Baylee for a walk in the fresh air to admire the gorgeous Gold Coast scenery helps me to reset and recharge. Exercise is as good for me as it is for him.
Before you consider fostering/adopting dog, ask yourself:
- Do you have time?
- Do you have patience?
- Can you commit long term?
- What breed will suit your lifestyle? (ie. how much exercise can you commit to)
- Have you done your research?
- Do you have some spare money? (Not a fortune, but vet-bills aren’t zero).
- Have you pooch-proofed your home?
If you want to know more check out Animal Welfare League Queensland.