I Treat My Dog Better Than I Treat Myself

"He's been a good boy this week." "What's he done?" "Well, nothing that special, he's just been, well, Spencer."

I sat at my mental health appointment whilst my psychologist quickly finds I stall most conversations by talking about my assistance dog, Spencer. Spencer is my 3 year old black Labrador Retriever who bounded into my life a year and a half a go. Best described as my shadow, simply because he goes everywhere with me (even to the bathroom...), he has changed my life in so many ways. 

"I wish I was as kind to myself as I am to Spencer"

In that moment I realised I had put myself right at the bottom of the pile again. I've never been great at looking after myself well, more so other people, but it suddenly clicked when I spoke about Spencer.

Here are a few examples of how I care for Spencer, but not as well for myself:

  • I tell him I love him everyday. I have a very critical inner monologue and I'm often just busy planning, not telling myself anything nice!
  • I reward him for every small task he does. Every small task for me is a huge achievement, yet often I don't recognise it 
  • If something is wrong with Spencer, I book him a vet appointment or contact his trainer immediately. Yes, if I went down to the doctors for every health problem I'd be there a lot, but many I often need a lot of persuasion to pursue. 
  • I make sure Spencer has the correct food & is fed every day. As someone who has both physical and mental health problems, if my carers aren't around, I often skip meals or have a cheeky slice of cake
  • I make sure Spencer gets the correct amount of sleep. He needs his sleep to work, but so do I. Why do I then work through the night?
  • He gets fresh air/walked every day. I can't go out every day, but I know I'm not well when I spend more time in bed. For me, getting onto my recliner chair every day is important and helps maintain a routine.
  • I accept help when I need it. If I can't get a task, or I'm having trouble with something, I contact a trainer and get some help in for Spencer. Yet if I'm struggling, I rarely ask for help.
Things aren't going to dramatically change for me, but I'm just going to be mindful of what I do now. Mindful when I praise my dog that I also praise myself for the work I've put in. That I also get enough sleep. And that I'm doing a good job, too.

Kate (and Spencer) x

Do you feel the same? Does your pet also mean the world to you?

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