Since moving in with my humans in the Aire Valley, I’ve often been asked about my history – as a rescue dog, it’s often assumed I was taken away from abusive or neglectful owners. Sadly in many cases this is true. In my own case, the situation was a bit different. I was originally bred as a hunting dog, and then given as a present to the breeder’s girlfriend. She thought I was a bit of a
handful, and sent me to the rescue centre. All this happened before I was 5 weeks old.
Since living with my current humans and working in Leeds, they’ve become more aware of the relationship between dogs, health, and other aspects of well-being. As well as improving my humans’ wellbeing, generally and with respect to specific mental health issues such as depression, bipolar and autism, I’m training to become a therapy dog so that I can join the other University therapy dogs in offering mental health support to students and staff. My humans have also volunteered with other local rescue centres, which both look after homeless dogs and cats, and also provide food-banks for people unable to feed themselves and their pets – often humans choose to feed their pets rather than themselves, so dog food donations help both dogs and humans. And I’ve also made friends with a few people in Leeds who are homeless, who say how much they’d like a dog for companionship and safety, but who are unable to afford the adoption fee or cost of feeding and keeping a dog.
Dogs in rescue centres can be there for a number of reasons, including that their owners are ill, mentally or physically, or else can no longer afford to keep a dog. Being unable to keep your dog is also likely to contribute to mental health problems, since it removes a buffer for mental health problems, and increases alienation and loneliness. Homelessness offers one example of the way in which poverty and mental health problems can go hand-in-hand, and also of how these things both affect and are affected by things like an ability to have a dog, even though we don’t normally associate these things with dog ownership.
On 7th July, my humans and I are doing the Muddy Dog Challenge in aid of Battersea Dogs’ Home. Battersea takes in over 7,000 dogs and cats a year, and accepts all dogs and cats, even old or ill ones who are less likely to be adopted. It helps to find new homes for dogs who can't live with their original humans, and reunites dogs to humans who have got lost. If you’re able, it’d be brilliant if you can sponsor us. You can find a link here.
Mental walkies with Lola,