Paws for thought – My dog ‘Wini’ and living with depression

I have a Blue Merle Border Collie called Wini Lwyd (pronounced ‘Winnie’ in English and her surname ‘Llwyd’ being Welsh for the colour ‘Grey’). No prizes for guessing why I called her that!  She is (by now) two years old and possesses a vivacious character along with an undeniable zest for life.

 

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Wini Lwyd – When we first met.
I got her a couple of weeks after my second admission in a psychiatric unit. I wanted a friend, a soul that I could care for and grow with. I’ve always lived with (and loved) dogs so I was über excited at the thought of having my very own. I saw her advertised on an Internet site called Preloved and drove the hour or so  journey to meet her for the first time in stormy weather. She was settled in an outbuilding farm barn filled with hay just outside a small town in Wales called Corwen. The farmer made no secret of the fact that she’d failed along with her brother to ‘make the cut as a working dog’.  Both were being sold for £120 each. From my murky recollection, a couple from Chester bought her brother a couple of weeks before I got to meet Wini for the first time. I got the warmest welcome known to mankind when I met her for the first time (I know that probably sounds rather ‘amateur dramatics’ but it’s all true). And, to say that she was ‘vocal’ at that first meeting would be rather an understatement!  She could bark and howl wonderful tones – all at the same time!

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Wini – Standing tall! 

With an exuberant kind of confidence  – she plastered her muddy little paws all over my coat within the first two minutes. It all seemed like a done deal. It didn’t take us  long to get ‘cosy’ together after she threw up on my new soft luxury blanket in the car on the way home. That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

I could at this point break out into inspirational rhetoric about how Wini made everything in my life perfect – the kind of ‘perfect’ you imagine after watching the golden lab puppy on the Andrex advert once too many times, but I’ll spare you the usual blabber and tell you how it actually was. The journey wasn’t all plain sailing, but in hindsight – it certainly was a journey well worth taking.

For the first year of her life my farther (rather irritatingly) nicknamed her ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ in a blunt/humorous attempt to deal with her unique style of ‘toilet’ custom/habit! She couldn’t or wouldn’t (still not *quite* sure which one, to be fair) make it to the back door in time to ‘go’, if you get my drift! I’ve often wondered whether Wini actually understood from the get-go that she hadn’t made the grade as an outdoor working dog – so from then on – decided to pledge her loyalty to all things ‘in-door’! After all, If she had failed, I wasn’t actually feeling at the peak of my own success after two hospital admissions that saw me for the greater part of the many months I spent inside, limited to suicide watch. That aside, the whole toilet training issue took us quite some time, patience and love to master, but she got there in the end with perseverance on her part and a gentle firmness on my part (a quality that I had to work quite hard at – since I utterly adored all her efforts and saw only good in all things she endeavoured to do, good or bad!)

The last two years saw her devour all things soft and fluffy in my life (including my luxury duck down feather pillows and all my matching socks!) She also took to eating several £10 notes that I had at various different occasions (foolishly)  left out on the settle for the take away man. But, in the last couple of months, she’s really mellowed, she’s come to herself and given up on a couple of her unfortunate pastimes!

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My love for Wini is a gentle, chaotic kind of love, a love that grows with time.

She has undoubtedly helped soothe my symptoms of depression. I find her presence calming and her love unconditional. Receiving her affection each morning and evening after returning from work is always such a privilege and has boosted my self-esteem. She’s also succeeded in reducing my feelings of loneliness. Our relationship continues to grow daily through mutual love, respect and trust. She’s become nothing less than a precious family member. Taking responsibility for her wellbeing has proved hugely rewarding on a personal level and building up our relationship over the last two years has managed to help me deal with my thoughts and feelings by enabling me to see life through a different lens and perspective. She can’t talk; guess you all know that, right? but it really does feels like she’s already, in her short life, shared a thousand thoughts with me. When I’m low – I can’t lie to her. She can instinctively sense my emotional state. When I hit the bottom – she’s always ready to offer me her paw (the way border Collies can!) She’s even endeavoured to lick my tears at various different occasions (apologies to all you squeamish dog lovers who dislike face liking!) Last but not least, she’s got me moving again and enjoying physical activity – something I’ve been completely unable to do in certain states of blue. I simply can’t think of disappointing those loving puppy eyes.

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It’s funny how it all feels like a bit of a fairy tale. It certainly wouldn’t be everyone’s idea of a fairy tale for sure – but for me, it has made life worth living once again. It has reminded me that the best things in life are worth investing in and fighting for. That life isn’t always easy, but that I can, with the help of four little paws figure out alternative perspectives and dialects. Building a great relationship with Wini has taken time, effort, and self-love. But boy, has it been worth it! Perhaps that these exact same things can somehow help me claw myself out of depression and offer me a better life, even if my socks don’t match, I’m missing a couple of £10 notes and luxury duck down feather pillows. It is, in my humble opinion, a price worth paying.

Making the blue a little lighter x

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