I have spoken a number of times about being BOLD and taking on new challenges. Well, this week we had a new addition to our family. Depending on the family member I can see Neil bringing out different strengths in all of us, including zest, teamwork, love of learning, perspective. curiosity and appreciation of beauty and excellence.
His name is Neil and he is a guide dog. We have taken on raising him for about the next 12 months before he is handed over (after a bit more intensive training) to his new owner.
It is interesting to observe the comments and behaviours of my other family members. I have heard the sentence, "if this is what it's like to have kids, I don't want any" a couple of times. Sounds like this child may be developing a bit of perspective.
As a 'new mum' I have woken up in the middle of the night thinking - 'I have heard the dog. I wonder if he's OK'. Then I remember he is a dog and not a newborn I need to feed, change, console. However, there is a similarity with the doubts about whether I am doing the right thing, and the different bits of advice you get from everyone. Also the constant knowledge that even when he is asleep I need to be alert to his next needs.
As puppy raisers we have someone on the end of the line we can call, we have a manual and there are scheduled training sessions, there is a puppy raiser Facebook page. There are also five of us in the family to share the responsibility. I can't help compare this with the limited support I had when bringing home my first baby (thank you to those who were there for me at the time - it was super appreciated). I wasn't even part of Facebook then!
Having at least one person to support you is so important for your mental health. It's one of the reasons Positive Young Minds exists, to be a friendly, accessible form of support. Don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to connect.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.