Guest Post: How Companion Dogs Help People Bounce Back from Mental Illness by: Cindy Aldridge

Struggling with a mental health issue consumes a person’s life. They may look normal on the outside, but on the inside they’re barely keeping it together. The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that one in every five U.S. adults experiences mental illness in any given year. If you’re that one in five, you’re not alone.

 

People who think they may be dealing with a mental illness should seek treatment with a physician or psychiatrist. They may prescribe therapy, medication, or a combination of both. But for some people, therapy and medication are not enough. To manage a mental illness, many people need a positive change that can help get their life back on track. That’s where a companion animal comes in. Adopting a dog can help you navigate your mental illness by giving you a built-in support system in your life. Dogs also provide comfort and affection when you need it and help stabilize your life so you can get back on track.

 

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

 

One of the best things about dogs is how they learn to love you almost immediately. The moment he realizes that he is yours and you are his, you become instant partners without hesitation. He will be by your side in the moments you need him, and he will always give you the benefit of the doubt.

 

For many people, adopting a dog gives them a sense of purpose in their life. If you aren’t around anymore, who will be there to take him for a walk in the morning or to play fetch with his favorite toy? That sense of purpose can help you get through each day until the days start getting easier themselves.

 

Practicing Mindfulness

 

For many people, mindfulness is the key to calming those voices we all get in our heads. You may find that spending time with your dog is the key to achieving that inner peace you get from being completely in the moment. People lose track of time just hanging out with their fluffy friend. The rhythmic nature of a game of fetch is hypnotizing in its own way. It’s also easy to waste hours just watching your dog be a weirdo.

 

Reconnecting with People

 

When you struggle with mental illness, you typically avoid social interactions with people. This leads to more feelings of isolation and can make it harder to get out of your slump. Dogs help people reconnect with the world around them. First, they give you something to talk about. Everybody loves hearing cute dog stories and sharing their own tales as well. Getting out and going to the dog park is an easy way to get to know your neighbors and provides an additional sense of security in your life. Taking Fido for a walk every day doesn’t just help you burn a few calories, it helps you connect with other people around you which is just as good for your long-term health.

 

Why You May Not Want a Dog

 

Think adding a dog to your life will provide you with the affection and structure to bounce back after a stage of mental illness? That’s great! There are a few things to take into consideration, though. Dogs aren’t cheap. They require regular visits to the vet, food, toys, accessories, dog walkers, doggie daycare, and a myriad of other expenses. Additionally, dogs require a lot of time. They need to be let out at least 3-5 times a day. Depending on the size of the dog, you may need yard space for them to run around and play. Plus, puppies can be quite destructive around the house, so adopting one means you’ll need to brace yourself for losing a few items.

 

If you aren’t at a place where you can be responsible for a dog, it may not be the right time to adopt one of your own. A great alternative is volunteering at your local shelter to play and walk with dogs who need help. You’ll get all the benefits mentioned above with the added bonus of knowing you helped animals in need. You can find an animal shelter near you through The Humane Society.

 

Choosing a dog for a companion can be a wonderful way to steady your erratic mind and provide you with a source of unconditional love. As long as you’re prepared to go the extra mile and take care of your pet the way it deserves, you’re setting the stage for the friendship of a lifetime.

 

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Canines Helping out in the Courtroom!

Hey Dog Lovers,

Today I talk about canines helping out in the courtrooms for children when they are asked to appear in court for numerous reasons.

Child abuse victims, they are often frightened and intimidated if they have to testify their experience in a courtroom. That is why courts around the country are allowing trained dogs to accompany them to the stand, easing their stress and anxieties.

“Courthouse Facility Dogs” lie quietly in the witness box, offering a supportive presence.

Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton of Kitsap County explains “Sometimes they need the leash in their hand. Sometimes they need the dog touching their feet, or sometimes they just need to see the dog.” In her courtroom a yellow lab named Kerris has been deployed numerous times to help witness often children who have been sexually or physically abused and would have a tough time testifying.

Breeds are usually Labradors, Golden Retrievers or a mix of both. They are usually placed with handlers who are usually prosecutors, investigators or victim advocates.

Defense attorneys have their opinions stating that a sweet looking dog can make the witness appear more believable and sympathetic.

Today 144 courthouses have dogs working in them.. In many states, judges decide on a case-by-case basis whether the dogs can be used in court. But at least seven states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois and Oklahoma have some type of law allowing courtroom canines to help people on the witness stand.

Training is similar to police dogs, they live with their handlers, who undergo up to two weeks of training. While the canine has already been trained and certified not to be disruptive in a public setting the handler needs to learn how to get the dog to perform as needed. Some people train them for free others charge fees from $3,000-10,000.

Thanks for reading dog lovers. Have a great week!

Fall is HERE!, Please check out Scarves for Paws for the latest trends and styles!

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Thanksgiving Yes and No’s When it Comes to Foods

Hey Dog Lovers,
As Thanksgiving approaches fast remember to consider that everything you eat your dog may not be able to/could be deadly to them. To make things simpler for you I have made a list of Yes and No Foods typically eaten on Thanksgiving.

Stuffing?

No. Pets cannot eat turkey stuffing, although bread is not harmful to pets other stuffing ingredients can cause serious problems. Onions, Grapes and raisins are toxic to pets. Stuffing can easily disagree with your pets digestive system.

Pumpkin Pie?

No. No pie for your pet but they can eat pumpkin with you in forms of plain canned pumpkin or create another dog friendly treats as it helps with digestion.

Sweet Potatoes?

Yes. Like Turkey, your dog can enjoy sweet potatoes cooked and prepared plain. Avoid the marshmallows and spice on top though, save that for the humans, as these ingredients can easily upset your pets stomach.

Other Dangerous and Toxic Foods for pets to be aware of?

Chocolate as it contains Xylitol (an artificial sweetener) which is toxic to pets.

Hazards?

Make sure your decorations are pet-proof, mainly flowers as lilies are toxic to cats. Avoid ribbon/other small decorations that can be easily swallowed. Although they do look pretty they can cause serious obstructions if your pet eats them.

Creating a Safe Environment for Pets

Create a safe and quiet place for your pet. Inform your guests to avoid feeding your pet table scraps.

Thanks for reading !

Thanks for reading dog lovers. Have a great week!

Fall is HERE!, Please check out Scarves for Paws for the latest trends and styles!

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Dog Smiles on Command

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Hey Dog Lovers,

Today is a light and cute post about a rescue dog from PAWS Chicago who learned to smile even after going through Canine Influenza Virus.

He is a 5 month old American Stafford Terrier names Herbert and absolutely adorable.

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PAWS hopes Herbets fame brings positive light to a breed that people sometimes judge harsher on than others.

Dogs are amazing, smart and talented animals who deserve a loving and caring home.

Thanks for reading dog lovers. Have a great week!

Fall is HERE!, Please check out Scarves for Paws for the latest trends and styles!

signature SFP photo