A Dog Is Not Just For Christmas

Pets and Mental Health

This is Snuggles, a nine-year-old lhasa apso – door alert, (good-natured) guard dog with a penchant for a certain brand of wholemeal biscuits, beloved pet of our consultant psychiatrist Dr Winbow and his wife – and also one of the most important members of the team here at Private Psychiatry – and definitely the most popular.

When you come to your appointment with us at Orchard House, you will invariably be met at the door by Snuggles. He’s always keen to know who is at the door and likes to greet new and regular patients in person. But he is more than just a cute pooch.

This gentle, wise soul seems to sense when someone is struggling or feeling distressed and has a way of making even the most nervous and anxious patient feel calmer. We often find him ‘snuggled’ up next to a patient on the waiting room couch. Sometimes, he knows just when to show someone a bit of attention and reassurance, and when to give someone space and peace and quiet.

Perhaps it’s to do with his own past. Before he came to Orchard House, Snuggles started life on a farm. Often left outside in all weathers by his previous owners, he now hates the rain. Whenever he senses rain in the air, Snuggles appears in the practice office and sits under one of the desks and trembles. His past has clearly left its mark, but with lots of attention from the office staff – and usually one of those biscuits – he’s back to his old self. Animals have life experiences too and maybe this is why they know just what to do when they sense something in a human being.

Snuggles is an ideal example of how pets – and especially dogs – can make a difference. Dogs don’t judge, and are loyal, sensitive companions. They can provide a focus and a distraction when life becomes challenging – and reduce anxiety, loneliness and depression. This is why dogs – and cats too – are sometimes part of mental health therapy. A loyal pet really can help to improve a person’s life and their mental health.

The old saying ‘a dog is not just for Christmas’ really is true. They are so much more than that.

Appointments at Orchard House can be made by contacting us.

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