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Mental Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

Assistance Dog Owner Lisa's Story:

Assistance dog owner Lisa went from having panic attacks weekly, to having a total of five panic attacks in two years since adopting assistance dog Pixel.

Lisa* was diagnosed with depression and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a teenager, then in her 20s developed a severe anxiety disorder and was suffering from panic attacks every week, wiping her out for anywhere from 1 to 4 days.

After spending time on a friend's farm, being around dogs and horses, she began noticing her anxiety reduce, so began looking into therapy dogs. While they were outside her price range and she didn't quite fit the criteria, so looking at other options, chose to get her own dog and find a company to train it as an assistance dog.

Pixel, a mixed breed cattle dog, was accepted into training at 6 months old, passing his tests and becoming fully accredited at 16 months old.

"In the 2 years (almost to the day) that Pix has been with me I've had a grand total of 5 panic attacks. All of them he has cut short, and I've had no more than one off day afterwards. My attendance at work has gone up, and I'm even ahead of my required hours," Lisa* shares.

"We're together about 98% of the time. Pix picks up when I'm headed towards a hard mental place or if I'm spiralling. He comes close and does his best to distract me with his antics or play and failing that will sit next to or on me, providing deep pressure therapy. He makes sure I get out of the house at least 5 days a week, even if we just go for a car ride. He goes into exams and other assessments with me, and just having him there helps. He provides the tactile feedback that helps me break out of an anxiety feedback - either scratching his ears, or he noses at me until I pay more attention to him than the anxiety."

"To have that reinforcement that I'm okay and that I'm loved unconditionally by a four legged fluffy being when I'm out and things happen, that's heaven."

Photo by Luke Bender on Unsplash


 




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