Support dog, Rex, is a dream come true
In the run up to Mental Health Awareness Week (9 May – 15 May), we celebrate National Pet Month (1 April – 2 May). One of the aims of this year’s National Pet Month, is to highlight the benefits of having a pet companion.
Animal therapy is something our teams have been exploring for some time. There are many physical and emotional benefits of owning a pet or spending time with animals. It can help reduce anxiety and stress, increase exercise levels, ease loneliness, and provide social opportunities.
Recently, we heard about Erin, who has just achieved a long-held dream to have her own dog. We asked her to tell us more.
Hello. My name’s Erin. I began my journey with Brandon Trust in July 2021. At my first meeting, my support worker asked me about the things that were important to me, and what I wanted to achieve. I told them I wanted to learn to cook, have a home of my own, and most important of all, my own dog.
The search for a support dog
Wind forward to August and with the help of Brandon, I moved into my own home. I had to wait six months before I could get permission to have a support dog. It felt like a very long time! At the beginning of December, it was finally granted, so my search for a dog began.
I knew I wanted a smaller dog; one I would be confident in knowing I would be able to pick up and keep out of danger if I needed to. Together with my support team, we looked online and did lots of research. I had thought I would be able to take on a rescue dog, but the criteria they asked for meant I was not eligible and the cost of buying a puppy was just too expensive for me. I started to get disheartened.
Dream Fund grant
In January 2022, my team leader stepped in and applied for a Dream Fund grant to help with the cost of purchasing a dog and pet insurance. I waited, with everything crossed, and a few weeks later I got a phone call. It was agreed, and on 27 January, we collected my puppy, a French bulldog who I called Rex, short for T Rex.
The bond I felt for him was instant, but the first weeks and months were hard. Puppies are extremely hard work; feeding, crate training, toilet training, cleaning up, and keeping him happy seemed relentless and exhausting. There were times self-doubt kicked in and I didn't think I could do it, but my support team were there for me, and I phoned them when I needed to, day or night.
Bundle of energy
Rex is now five months old and he’s a loving, cheeky, funny bundle of energy with such a character. He has learnt to sit, fetch, and come back on command. ‘Stay’ is proving a bit trickier! I am hoping to enrol him in puppy training classes soon which will help him and me to go out and about.
Looking back, would I change anything? No. I love him. He is my constant companion, playmate, and cuddler. Sometimes when I am out with him and feel nervous, I just give him a hug. All the ups, downs, and heartache were so worth it. He has helped me to feel more confident and independent. He is the best thing I have ever done.
Thank you, Dream Fund!
Help us to make more dreams become reality
The Brandon Dream Fund panel was delighted to be able to make Erin’s dream come true. With your help, we can help even more people to achieve their dreams.
Find out more about the Dream Fund and how you can help.