Thank you Sharon for this beautiful and poignant article. It is certainly a tear jerker and it definitely makes us proud and happy for what we are achieving. While Doggie Dates is all about the dogs, it is also all about the humans and you will be welcomed.
I was asked to write about what Doggie Dates has done for me, in terms of mental and physical health. Initially I thought, ‘what have I got to say?’ Then I started thinking…
My pup is a ten year old Cavalier x foxy and is in Stage 4 of heart failure and also has cataracts. At the moment, his heart failure is being managed by heart drugs and massive amounts of fluid drugs and he is doing quite well, considering. However there was a stage a few months ago where I really thought he wouldn’t be with us for more than a few weeks. Prior to Charlie getting suddenly sick (in early Jan 2021), we would walk up to 10km several times a week. He would come home and then immediately find a ball or toy for me to throw. So Charlie now has very different needs than he did a little over twelve months ago.
So Charlie now has very different needs
I joined Doggie Dates sometime early in 2021 (I think – it is a covid blur). I was quite worried about going, meeting new people, will Charlie like the dogs, will we keep up on the walks. You see, I struggle with anxiety and sometimes depression, made worse by covid. So I had all these apprehensions about going on walks.
Well I went on the walks. I was warmly welcomed despite coming sometimes without a dog when Charlie was too unwell. There is often a spare dog to hand over. I fell in love with Shock the BC and often walked her – such a gorgeous girl. If there are no spares, it is lovely to just walk and talk with different people.
At the moment I generally bring Charlie and we form part of “a group within the group’. We are part of the slow group, not able to keep up with the fitter, healthier dogs or pawparents. On longer walks or if Charlie is not able to attend eg too hot or sick, then I walk with the main group.
I was warmly welcomed
Doggie Dates has been wonderful for Charlie. He gets fussed over by me and the paw parents and has a quick meet and greet with some of the other pups (before he gives his little – that’s enough – growl.) He gets to walk in places that I wouldn’t normally walk.
For me, I have met so many wonderful and lovely people. There is the lovely young woman who is an engineer and works in the car industry; the lady who’s life journey I am echoing, so she understands my challenges; the young mum, worried that she wasn’t fit enough, who shared her story about her young family – she is doing an amazing job with her kids. These are people I never would have met, but we are like minded, in that we love our pups, but are also walking together on this challenging journey called life.
This challenging journey called life
When Charlie passes, I will still attend Doggie Dates. I know I will receive the love and support needed as I grieve and learn to love again. Before Charlie, I had a Mini-Foxie, Gizmo, who died quite suddenly. One of the worst parts about this time was walking, and not being spoken to by people who I had greeted and spoken to for years. They only recognised me with my dog and didn’t see me without him. I stopped walking. I am glad I am still a member of Doggie Dates as I will still be welcomed when Charlie has gone.
I will still be welcomed when Charlie has gone.
Like many people, I have had mental health issues for years (all of my life). My poor mental health has been exacerbated by Covid. For me, Doggie Dates has been a safe place to be during this time. We are out in the open air, enjoying walks, chatting, laughing and sharing life. There is so much support within these groups if you are having troubles of any kind with your pup. For me, it was/is managing his health and for others different issues. There are always people to ask, get advice from, and people who are willing and open to helping you through any difficult times. Friendships have been created and we are doing life together.
You are all doing an incredible thing for your community
Thanks so much to the amazing Tj and her team for making Doggie Dates the wonderful group that it has become. You are all doing an incredible thing for your community.
Vicki Nonas http://www.bymyside.net.au/
Lifeline 13 11 14 (24/7)
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 (24/7)
Doggie Dates NSW 0422354798 / firstname.lastname@example.org M-F 9-4