Dogs or Antidepressants?

I have not tended my Blog for a while because I’ve been waiting for a decidedly dark cloud to lift from my mind.  It is taking its time – so much so that I have decided to wait no longer.  This time of year has always stirred up a malevolent host of demons in my world.  The darkening evenings actually seem to suck the life out of me, and I feel myself sinking into hopelessness.  Real sink or swim stuff.  Yet here I am, still alive enough to write.

When all is well I throw myself into daily life  – making plans, embarking on courses, committing to dates and appointments, acting on ideas.  Then depression strikes and within days all my excitement has died.  I can feel the demon’s claw seizing my spirit and attempting to strangle it.  Suddenly I cannot go out, I want to shut myself away from my friends, I lose the motivation to do the simplest tasks, and slowly things begin to fall apart.

So where does Trudy fit into this?  My black and white choice is to find somebody to look after her while I wallow in misery, or to stumble onwards and continue caring for her myself.  Unable to part with her, I’ve chosen to keep things as they are.  The upshot is that I have   to continue with a daily routine for Trudy’s sake.  That means getting  up at the usual time to feed her and take her outside for her “busy busy”.  More often than not I meet a neighbour and we spend a few minutes engaging in chit-chat.   Having a bouncy Labrador makes it impossible to hide away from the outside world.   Thanks to Trudy, the skeleton of my normal routine has remained intact. 

I have learned to lower my expectations during times of low mood.  My current goal is to survive this rather bleak period and to continue to look after Trudy – not because I have to, but because I want to.  The love I have for Trudy makes me glow inside, and even when my mood is dark and I can’t feel the warmth from that glow I know it’s still there.  When Trudy bounds over after I’ve popped out for a few minutes, I can feel the glow stirring, and it gives me hope.  Trudy is a gift, and the bond we have is a gift.  Being on the receiving end of the unconditional love which just spills out of Labradors is very precious. 

One of the great things about dogs is that they are so tangible.  Trudy’s warm, soft fur has an instant feel-good effect – and that’s before I get to the silky ears, and the wagging tail.  Research has proved that stroking animals can increase the levels of serotonin in the brain.  In addition it can boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and decrease pain.  This is why there is an increasing number of Therapy dogs being assigned to hospices and retirement homes.  In fact when I have visited such places myself in my capacity as a Speaker, I have witnessed the positive effects that Trudy has had on some of the patients.  Trudy is synonymous with Life.  Just being around her makes life livable.

Perhaps her ability to inject humour into my bleakest moments is the thing that strikes me most.  If Trudy wants to play hide and seek with items from my laundry basket, she won’t take no for an answer no matter how depressed I feel!  And the fast-beating thump of her tail has such an upbeat rhythm that my mouth smiles without me even thinking about it.  Then there are the numerous feats of Labrador mischief that prove to me how priceless Trudy is, and before long I realise that I’m actually glad to be alive.  Sometimes I surprise myself by my own spontaneous laughter – thanks to Trudy.   Trudy ignites hope inside me, and hope is what stops people from drowning.

So despite the waves of gloom which permeate my days at the moment, I have the means to stay grounded, focussed and connected with other people.  When I’m in the park with Trudy, fellow walkers see the hurtling Labrador before they see me.  Even when they notice me and we strike up a conversation they are unaware of my inner struggle.  This in itself is a true bonus.     Antidepressants can set right the chemical imbalances in your brain, but having a dog like Trudy is a reason for living and thriving.  Merely wanting to look after a dog takes your thoughts away from your own troubles.  Actually having a dog reduces those troubles to the bare minimum.   Trudy’s role as a Guide dog at this time is secondary to her therapeutic role.  The very fact that she gives me so much makes me determined to do what I can for her.  This has prevented me from caving in on myself.

Trudy provides me with so much more than freedom and mobility.  I know she understands me as I do her, and it feels like we’re joined together by something magical.  She is not just part of my life, she has become part of me.

 Hetty is Britain’s first dual Guide dog and Seizure Alert dog http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/news/uks-first-dual-guide-dog-and-seizure-dog-graduates-with-new-owner/

Children with autism and OCD benefit from assistance dogs  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/giving/11DOGS.html?_r=2&partner=TOPIXNEWS&ei=5099

Therapy dogs in Psychiatric services http://drdeborahserani.blogspot.com/2010/10/therapy-service-dogs.html

The Hereford Howler (November 2011)

THE HEREFORD HOWLER

 

November 2011 news letter for The Hereford and District Fund Raising Branch for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

 

 

Welcome to our first edition of The Hereford Howler. We are pleased to announce that our new Hereford and District Fund Raising Branch is now up and running!

 

 

Branch Members –

 

Our highly enthusiastic Branch Organiser is Claire Rush, who welcomes any and all fund raising ideas and can be contacted on; 01432 357416 / 07832527082, or via e-mail at; snout221b@btinternet.com

 

I, Suzanne, am the newly appointed Trading Secretary (paperwork pending) and I can be contacted on; 07794680479, or e-mail; suzanneeaton84@hotmail.co.uk

 

Our Branch Treasurer (paperwork pending) is hopefully going to be Rob Bettington from Weston near Ross. Justin Griffiths is the Collection box co-ordinator responsible for collection boxes in the Kington area, and Ann-Marie Hughson assists with the Hereford collection boxes and other Branch duties.

 

 

Progress so far –

 

Since our official launch in August, we have gotten off to a flying start; we have so far assisted with two collections which had been organised by Sandie Cotterell (Organiser of the well established Ross-on-Wye Branch). These were held in Hereford High Town, and at Belmont Tesco, and together raised around £3,000 – a great pace maker for our fledgling Hereford branch. We have a collection of our own arranged on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st March at the Hereford Morrisons store. Anybody who could spare a couple of hours on either of these days would be gladly welcomed, particularly anybody who can bring a Guide Dog along as they are great for drawing in the crowds! If you would like to donate an hour or two of your time to help with the Morrisons collection please contact Claire.

 

28 collection boxes have so far been placed in and around Hereford City. If anybody knows of a suitable venue where either a small counter top box, or a life sized collection dog could be located, please contact Branch Organiser Claire, and she will arrange to get a box sent out to you. We are scouting for some more volunteers to help with the locating and maintenance of collection boxes so drop Claire a line if you may be interested in filling this role.

 

The Hereford Branch has also begun running a Seasonal Quiz. The Autumn Quiz proved to be hugely popular, so much so that a number of “quizzees” have already pre-paid for their winter edition. Over seventy of the Autumn quiz sheets were sold, and the winner of a huge cuddly dog is soon to be drawn. Anyone can purchase the quiz sheets for £1 either from Claire directly by sending an SAE and £1 to 47 Campbell Road, Hereford, HR1 1AD (cheques payable to Hereford Branch GDBA) or via the Fundraising Quizzes website http://sitesaver.dns-systems.net/quiz/quizzes.php The closing date for returning the Winter quiz sheet is March 1st 2012. The winner will receive a chocolate explosion.

 

£86.92 was raised by Claire and Annie who held a car boot sale in Madly. They are hoping to run more sales once the weather warms up. Any donations for the car boot sale would be much appreciated!

 

The Hereford Branch has a Just giving Page which we would love people to visit if they wish to donate on-line to Guide dogs. This can be found at http://www.justgiving.com/Claire-Rush0

 

I have just set up a Facebook page for our members and supporters to follow our progress and keep up to date with upcoming events. To join our page just search for us on Facebook, our page title is Hereford Fund Raising Branch for Guide Dogs. Once you’ve found our page just click “like” and you will receive any updates on our page automatically. Please feel free to post any info or photos that you would like to share on there. There is also a link to the just giving site on there.

 

 

Supporters –

 

The Foresters Friendly Society have kindly adopted Guide Dogs as their charity of the year. The Foresters are aiming to raise £5000 as part of their Name a Puppy Appeal. They are staging a Plush-puppy race at the Royal National College for the Blind on February 24th and a Santa’s Grotto at the Belmont Centre on December 10th and December 17th.

 

The 1st Fownhope Cubs are currently cooking up some fund raising ideas and are keen to contribute to our efforts.

 

The Hereford Fire Choir are also giving a concert in May in aid of Guide dogs. This will be held at Our Lady’s Church in Hereford. Details to follow in the next newsletter.

 

We are also assisting the Ross Golf Club in Gorsley with their fundraising. The recently inaugurated Ladies Captain, Amanda Marshall, has chosen Guide dogs as her nominated charity for 2011/2012. They also hope to raise £5000 in order to name a Guide dog puppy. Claire has visited the Golf Club with Trudy to lend support for the Name a Puppy Appeal, and is planning to give a talk there sometime next year.

 

 

More upcoming events –

 

There will shortly be a Guide dogs information stand in Hereford Vision Links in Widemarsh Street and the Branch looks forward to working with Mike Edwards, the chairman of the Macular Disease Society who is based at Vision Links.

 

We are hoping to get a branch website online shortly, this way we can keep members and supporters up to date with events and successes as we go along. This page will also contain links to the Just Giving website, and the seasonal quiz site.

 

On a more creative note, we are currently in the process of putting together an anthology containing amusing poems and stories written from different Guide Dogs’ perspectives. The 1st Fownhope Cubs are going to write us some poems and we are holding high hope that there will be some very entertaining submissions as they were a rather “lively” bunch when Claire and Trudy visited to give a talk to them earlier this month! Fingers crossed the anthology will be ready for sale by Easter, and all proceeds will of course be going to Guide Dogs. If you would like to submit anything to be printed in the anthology (preferably humorous work) contact me via e-mail at the address given above.

 

Some other events in the pipeline are;

– A Go Walkies event

– Further collections in Hereford High Town and other venues.

– A music event.

– A quiz night and sale of merchandise possibly at TGS Bowling, Hereford.

– Smaller events such as car boot sales and the Seasonal Quiz.

– Sale of Guide dogs merchandise.

– A charity football tournament

 

 

Dates for your diary –

 

Saturday December 10th Santa’s Grotto, Belmont Centre, Hereford (10 am – 2pm)

 

Saturday December 17th, Santa’s Grotto, Belmont Centre, Hereford (10 am – 2pm)

 

February 24th 7pm at the Royal National College for the Blind. Night at the races! The huge plush-puppy race which aims to raise at least £1000 for Guide dogs.

 

Friday March 30th. All-day collection at Morrisons, Hereford (volunteers needed please)

 

Saturday March 31st All-day collection at Morrisons, Hereford (volunteers needed please)

 

 

Finally we would like to thank everybody for their support, particularly those who have donated their time to help us get the Hereford Branch up and running, and also to all of the venues which have allowed us to place our collection boxes with them.

 

We hope that everybody has a wonderful Christmas and new year.

 

Bye for nowwwwwwwww!