Photography by Charlotte Farhan

Pup-date One – Introducing Amadeus – The Poodle With A Purpose

The launch of my website and Facebook page would not have happened without the support of my dear friend Charlotte Farhan. She helped me find some confidence and inner strength, encouraged, supported and loved me. This is just what Charlotte does, love people and help them. She has seen me through many a dark time , showing immense loyalty and compassion. She is an incredible women who works tirelessly to campaign and raise for various causes, giving a voice to the unheard.

Now I get to help Charlotte, because she has given me the honourable task of training her new psychiatric assistance dog, Amadeus. I am delighted to be given the opportunity to use my skills for this. Yes, it is a massive challenge and the perfectionist in me is already giving me a hard time, but only because it means so much. I get to combine 2 of my biggest passions… Animals and my loved ones! I also get to spend a lot of time with a very adorable Poodle puppy, who is yet to realise that he has the ability to create such positive change.

Amadeus

Amadeus

Research in pet therapies reveal that a service dog can help manage symptoms by helping you feel less stressed and alone. As Charlotte spends her days working non-profit as a MD of Art Saves Lives International from home and is alone, she often feels abandoned and scared, reinforced by the fact that she cannot go outside by herself at all.

She would love to be able to do what ‘ mentally abled’ individuals can do and carry out simple tasks such as crossing the road and walking to the corner shop to buy milk, as well as exercising more, meeting people for her charity work and as Charlotte is a visual artist she dreams of painting outside in the summer.

A suitable dog would be a dependable companion, helping aid her confidence and give her more freedom. Dogs are great lovers of affection and their unconditional love can help overcome self-loathing problems and inward negative thoughts.

A assistance dog will help Charlotte feel more comfortable with the idea of being able to stand closer to strangers and have more contact with others. This is a fear of Charlotte’s brought on by her trauma, she feels unsafe and in danger around others causing extreme anxiety and emotional regulation problems. This will also positively encourage her in new situations without scanning for danger.

Amadeus

Amadeus

As we know dogs are particularly vigilant and are able to assess whether this danger is real or fantasy, something Charlotte is unable to do, offering a form of logical determination and protection. The dog will also help with grounding exercises in situations that are overwhelming due to too much sensory information which will stop Charlotte from detaching as much and having debilitating anxiety attacks.

The NHS have said they can do no more for Charlotte and left her to deal with psychotic depression, borderline personality disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, agoraphobia and OCD by herself. However, there was an option, one that is not readily available in this country …not to mention expensive! A psychiatric assistance dog!

Psychiatric Service Dogs can offer the following:

Medical Alert

Just as a dog can be trained to alert to seizures and other medical conditions, a dog can also be trained to sense the changes in a person’s body when they are beginning to have a panic attack, flash back, anxiety attack, or other psychiatric condition. The dog is able to paw at the leg of their disabled recipient and interrupt what would otherwise be a debilitating and destructive behaviour for the individual. This helps the handler to refocus on their dog and work through the problem.

Deep Pressure Therapy

Just as medical wraps are used to alleviate anxiety in persons with psychiatric conditions, dogs can be trained to put the pressure of their body weight on their handler’s lap and abdomen to physically, and then mentally relieve anxiety and induce a sense of calm.

Boundary Control

When the individual suffers from anxiety due to the close proximity of others, or due to claustrophobia in a crowded room, the dog can be trained to stand in between their handler and others to gain more personal space. The dog is not being protective, but is simply following a simple cue from their handler to move their body into the space surrounding their handler.

Corners

A frequent problem for those suffering from PTSD is to negotiate corners without the fear of what is waiting on the other side. Our dogs can be trained to go around corners in front of their handler and then alert their handler if there is someone waiting on the other side. Over time this form of therapy can assist the disabled recipient when becoming more comfortable with going into public.

Signal Alert

There are many situations when a recipient will need to excuse themselves from a classroom or meeting due to personal psychiatric concerns. With a discrete signal to the dog the handler can command his dog to paw at the leg, making it look like the dog is seeking attention. The handler is then able to comfortably leave the situation with the excuse that his dog needs to relieve itself.

Companionship

It goes without saying that any service dog’s greatest assistance is the emotional support they can offer their handler. Most disabilities present trials than can be relieved on a mental level simply by the dog’s presence. A well behaved dog can help to lower blood pressure and give a sense of ease to anyone who is near.

 


 

Unfortunately, in the UK, service dogs are only given to those with physical disabilities, children with autism and war veteran with PTSD. So, we were just going to have to find a way of overcoming this!

Amadeus

Amadeus

Our very close friend Lisa, another lady who has benefited from Charlotte’s compassion and love, set up a crowd funding campaign to make this dream a reality. The response has been so positive and we have almost reached half the target in 2 weeks.

Charlotte, knowing that poodles are one of the most intelligent and trainable breeds, did some research and embarked on a search which led her to a very handsome chap looking for his forever loving home! And what a home he is going to, Charlotte, her husband Mohammed and their 3 beautiful cats are welcoming Amadeus on Saturday and there are many an excited Aunty and Uncle on hand to help,

In keeping with my holistic approach, I will be using crystals to have a positive, nurturing effect on Amadeus . The main ones I will be using are Citrine and Black Tourmaline.

Citrine is a golden-brown or orange-white stone that is extremely versatile and one of its principal uses within animal therapy is to help decrease emotional or sensory overwhelm.

Sensory overload causes mental fatigue, stress, confusing and lack of concentration.

A new puppy will be facing so many different influences and impressions when it first enters the world of humans, such as traffic, noise, crowds and smells. It takes time to adapt to these and the effect they will have , so Citrine is the perfect choice to make this easier and lessen the effect on immunity. It will also help them concentrate during training, by reducing exhaustion and helping them understand what is required of them.

Black Tourmaline, in the jet black form, provides protection for animals that are prone to picking up on its owners emotional negatively. This will allow Amadeus to recognise and assist with Charlotte’s complex issues without absorbing any damaging negative energies.

My role is to train Amadeus to a level where he will be immaculately trained and provide Charlotte with the support and assistance she so desperately needs and is so worthy of. I accompanied Mohammed on a visit to Amadeus recently and although it is early days, I felt confidence in his abilities. He is starting to show confidence, but calmness and willingness too!

I will be regularly updating my website and Facebook page with video footage, photographs and #pupdates. This way, the wonderfully generous people who have donated will be able to see the good that have contributed to and we can be a part of the campaign to raise awareness and the fight to get psychiatric assistance dogs more readily available and accredited in the UK.

Amadeus

Amadeus


 

The first five things I will teach Amadeus, are as follows:

  • Clicker Conditioning:

Allows precision within obedience dog training
Marks the exact moment you want repeated
Is clear and precise, allowing the dog to know exactly what is expected of them.

  • Name:

He must know his own name
Will positively reinforce his name with a reward to teach him
Name recognition enables him to reorientate himself and concentrate on what he is doing.

  • Settling quietly for long periods:

Tether train with a mat to settle beautifully when required.
Teaches him to calmly accept his boundaries

  • Sit Command:

Provides reference point to teach him all other position commands such as lie down.

  • Walking on a lead:

Fundamental requirement for any dog.

 

Photography by Charlotte Farhan


For further information:

C-PSTDwhat is it? http://outofthefog.website/toolbox-1/2015/11/17/complex-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-c-ptsd

Agoraphobia what is it? https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help-now/anxiety-information/anxiety-disorders/agoraphobia/

Borderline Personality Disorder – what is it?http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/#.Vxd50TArLIU

Psychotic Depression – What is it?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychotic_depression

OCD – What is it? http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/#.Vxd6UzArLIU

The GoFundMe campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/PsychiatricDogFund

Lisa Reevehttps://lisareevephotography.com/

Charlotte Farhanhttps://charlottefarhanartactivism.com/

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Rebecca Smith

Welcome To Holistic Animal Healing With Bex

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This is my first blog, the first of many focusing on my love of animals and my dedication to appreciating, enriching and healing them. The aim of this blog is to introduce myself and hopefully entice you into following my journey as I become the master of my own destiny and turn my dreams into a reality.

I have been in awe of animals since I was a little girl and my fascination with all creatures of all shapes and sizes, has continued to grow ever since. From spending time with the family pets, to seeing wildlife in the countryside, I relished the calmness animals brought to me and realised a pure and profound connection with them.

As soon as I had the opportunity to start planning my route in life, I dedicated myself to studying animals. In 2004 I was awarded a triple distinction for a National Diploma in Animal Management. I then embarked on a degree and in 2007 I became a graduate in Animal Management (BSc Hons). In the final year of my degree a dissertation was required for the honours to be awarded. This called for extensive independent research and gave me the freedom to have more control over my learning.

This is where I really started to come into my own and the timing was perfect because I had been bitten by the holistic bug! Not to detract from the practices I was now confident in, I threw myself into a world of natural remedies . I began exploring how nature can complement convention by researching essential oil therapy and specifically the effect that lavender has on canine behaviour.

My early career was focused on the animal husbandry and veterinary medicine part of my knowledge. After university, I continued with my job in Pet Retail, got promoted and was constantly asked by regular customers when I would be setting up on my own. I knew all the dogs names who frequented the shop and built up a great rapport with customers. I am still in touch with some of these people and continue to feel honoured that so many people want me to work with their animals.

When I was offered a job as a Veterinary Claims Assessor, I took it and although I learnt some valuable skills, I soon missed the daily interaction with animals and decided it would just be a stop gap whilst looking for a more suitable role.

This stop gap turned into a rut, lasting more than 6 years! For many reasons, including personal tragedy, I was unable to move on from the job, became increasingly frustrated and dreamt of getting back onto the path I had deviated from. To get myself out of the rut, I took the brave decision to accept a job not related to animals in order to earn enough to pay for further studies. I wanted to work with companion animals again and be my own boss, but this meant sacrifices and risk taking.

So, this is how I ended up here! I am working full time in a job that is not personally satisfying, sternly reminding myself that it will all be worth it in the long run because it finances my studies and brings in enough to pay the bills too! I am studying pet psychology and Holistic Animal Healing with the ultimate goal of successfully running my own business as a fully qualified practitioner.

This is a role that will benefit me, the animals I meet along the way and their human companions! It will enable me to help individuals by achieving my ultimate aspiration – the enhancement of the human / animal relationship! I want to do this because not only will it bring balance to an animals life, but it will allow me to channel the immense appreciation and gratitude I have for what animals have done for me. In the darkest moments of my life, animals have been a constant support, comfort and sometimes my sanity! Helping and giving back to the animal community will give me an enormous amount of pride.

I am full of hope and enthusiasm as I embark on this chapter, coupled with anxiety about getting it right, doing it justice and finally integrating myself into the animal industry as I always planned. I will make this happen and I will never take it for granted. This blog space will let you walk my journey with me and teach you about how to help the animals in your life. Wish me luck!