I’ve recently fallen in love … madly, deeply, in love with a tall dark and handsome … retired greyhound. Her name is Pepsi. I’m sure all you dog owners out there totally get this but I have to say that I have never been a ‘pet person’. It has blown me away how instantly and completely I lost my heart to this beautiful animal and how much joy she has brought to our family since she joined us a month ago.
If it wasn’t for the constant badgering of our 12 year old son, Matt, I would never have gone down the path of getting a dog but boy would I have been missing out on an amazing life enhancing experience.
So how is Pepsi making a difference to our lives, and in particular, my wellbeing?
For a start, there’s the connection. She follows me around like my shadow, and she thinks I’m great pretty much all of the time. I spend a lot of time by myself at work and her company is definitely making work even more enjoyable. She does sleep on the job a lot though!
Pepsi’s getting us out for walks. Luckily she doesn’t need really long walks, they’re built for speed not endurance, but at least once a day I’m getting some fresh air and engaging with nature as we pound the pavements around our suburb. Often Matt is joining us, giving him and me an opportunity to chat about life side by side and giving him a break from screens and some fresh air. I’ve also set up a walk in a greyhound owners group so I can potentially connect Pepsi for some playdates, knowing there’s times when I’m going to be away or even just delivering training for days at a time.
We’ve become part of the local dog-walking community. I’ve met new neighbours such as Carmel and her small boisterous dog, Monty, who I’d never come across before. These encounters are enriching my sense of community where I live.
Pepsi’s super affectionate and I’m totally loving the cuddles which are really timely as Matt has started to seek out kisses and cuddles less and less as his independence grows.
I feel like a reformed smoker right now because I find myself wanting to shout from the rooftops about the benefits of pet ownership. If you haven’t ventured down this path, I encourage you to consider it. I do appreciate though that owning a dog is a big responsibility and can require some significant adjustments to our lives.
Recognising that our lifestyle is busy and involves trips away for work and pleasure, I really put some thought into how we could make this work. I decided our greyhound would need a village around them. My beautiful, retired, neighbour Clover came to mind because I knew they had lost their dog around 18 months ago and figured she might be interested in the pleasures of the dog without all the responsibility.
I’ll never forget when I asked Clover if she would like to be involved. I had to dig deep to ask, a feeling you might also know and which often stops us from asking us for help.
I could not have asked for a better response. When I told Clover we were considering a rescue greyhound she lit up like a Christmas tree. Little did I know that she was thinking of a rescue greyhound for their next dog.
Clover regularly comes and let’s Pepsi out when I have to work, she takes her for walks and she has even offered to have her over at her place when I have full work days. My relationship with Clover has grown through this experience and it is definitely enriching Pepsi and our lives.
I can understand now why there’s such a thing as pet therapy. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Carla Canning, the Chief Operating Officer at Happy Paws Happy Hearts Ltd (HPHH), an organisation that supports veterans, injured workers and first responders. According to Carla “It is quite incredible how healing animals can be. There’s a little bit of magic when you bring people and animals together”. HPHH exists to help people out of isolation and to build connection. As a convert to life with a dog, I can’t help but love what they are doing.
So in summary, the benefits of dog ownership include connection, unconditional love, and exercise… the negatives are the occasional chewed book and hole dug in the back garden… but that face!
I have to say, overall, Its worth it!!
If you want Tuesday Tales delivered directly to your inbox click here.
Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.