In my experience, sometimes it’s a human who needs to be rescued, and it’s a dog who steps up to do it. Companionship, touch and sense of purpose are all cited as ways in which dogs boost the physical and mental health of humans and motivate us to maintain a daily routine.
2020 was a tough year for many all around the world. Not surprisingly the pandemic resulted in a dramatic increase in dog ownership with 2 million households across Australia acquiring a pet. We were one of those 2 million, bringing Paolo the Shar Pei - and all his much needed joy of life - into our home.
At the time we decided to get a puppy, I was working particularly hard to keep the cheese on my cracker. Alongside Covid, issues in our family with addiction, adoption, autism and anxiety were all adding to my own “stinky blue”. When we brought home our blue-tongued bundle of wrinkles, it started the healing for my heart.
Like Happy Paws Happy Hearts, we were motivated to create The Paws Room by a desire to contribute to inclusion and happiness. Paolo provided us with the perfect opportunity. Unlike our easy-going Cavoodle Peppa, Paolo needed a little more support to manage his guarding instincts. With the help of a behaviourist, we were introduced to the enormous benefits of crates for dogs.
While both Peppa and Paolo took to their crates as a place of sanctuary in our home, we took less to their cage-like ugliness in our living room! We recognised the potential to meet the needs of our dogs, as well as ours, by creating a space for them that would blend seamlessly with the style of our home. This concept evolved to become The Paws Room and our pet furniture collection that aspires to enhance feelings of connection and create a sense of belonging for all the family.
We were introduced to Happy Paws Happy Hearts by Inner Ignite, a new disability service that provides mentoring and peer support, through lived experience of disability. My partner’s daughter Lucy began attending weekly sessions with the HPHH program, as she had a great love of pets and took pleasure in caring for animals that didn’t yet have a home.
Lucy said, “I liked the Happy Paws Happy Hearts program because I was able to learn more about animals in shelters and I was able to give them love. I also liked it because it was inclusive of people who have disabilities or who struggle with social issues. It was a great way to talk to people about animals. It also helped me as a type of animal therapy. I was able to focus on the animals instead of things that stress me out. I could just enjoy working with the animals and helping them.”
HPHH gave Lucy a sense of purpose and helped with weekly organisational skills. It has also shown her a potential career path in Pet Care and ignited her passion for working with animals. Through her participation in their programs she learned basic skills in pet care that have put her in good stead to follow her dreams.
She explains, “I participated in the HPHH program because I wanted to have some experience with working with animals. I think my participation with HPHH has helped me to get my job working with a local vet, as I was able to learn things that you might need when working in a vet clinic - understanding different types of animal behaviour for example. It gave me good experience for what I need to do at work.”
We are so grateful for all that Zoe and her team are doing at HPHH, bringing connection and purpose to people at risk of isolation and being forgotten. We are proud to partner with them and hope the crates and beds we provide for the new HPHH centre will help bring happiness with rescue, for humans and animals alike.