They say that dogs are like their owners and ours definitely fits the bill! She is high maintenance, a bit crazy and loves treats, just like me.

She is also sweet and small and cuddly and gets very excited when she sees us. She has been with us for nearly 11 years, and we love her to bits. She likes to sleep on my bed, a lot.

Truffles has been through a lot with us, my anxiety and depression and my daughter’s depression and self-harm, and all the while it’s as if she knows we need comfort and there she is. Curled up by a hip or laying on top of us.

Someone once asked if Truffles was my daughter’s therapy dog. I didn’t know a great deal about service or assistance dogs, but it turns out there are lots of disabilities or conditions where a service dog is helpful.

Guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for deaf or hearing impaired people, mobility assistance dogs for people with mobility limitations or wheelchair users, seizure response dogs that protect and help a person with a seizure disorder or when a seizure occurs, diabetes assistance dogs that detect blood sugar highs and lows by scent and mental health service dogs.

Mental health service dogs are task trained to assist people with PTSD, panic disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, autism spectrum disorders and much more, but …..”in the UK there are no ADUK (Assistance Dogs UK) accredited assistance dog charities at the present time that train dogs for people with mental health issues where this is the only disability.”

What? Given the increase of adults and children dealing with mental health challenges I would have thought that this would be of huge benefit to some of these people.

Our pets give us routine, something to look after and provide companionship. They can have a calming effect on us but can also be great for socialising (everyone asks about Truffles). Imagine though for people who are really struggling with their mental health as I did some years ago. If I had access to an assistance dog that was trained to assist with anxiety, where would I be today? Would my anxiety have lessened quicker? Would I have been off my medication years ago?

I am blessed to have Truffles and I wouldn’t change her for the world. She is always there for us, but I just wonder how life would be if she was specifically trained.

Do you have a pet? How does your pet improve your mental health?


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