How Adopting a Greyhound Changed How I View My Past and My Mental Health
Life changing moments can happen at any time, some are expected while others aren’t. Adopting a pet is obviously one of those moments, however I wasn’t expecting how it would change me mentally and how it would change the way I viewed my own past.
Change and Anxiety
My wife and I had always talked about having a dog. I’ve always felt dogs understand me more than people do. My earliest memories of how my Grandmother’s dog would guard and protect me against strangers and what was happening in our house. While I was homeless my favourite memories involve dogs coming up to me wagging their tails, no matter how brief out interactions were, I still cherish them. They showed no judgement towards me, only love and curiosity. More pure than other interactions I had.
I knew the biggest hurdle for me in this process would be dealing with the change. Change is a huge trigger for my anxiety and it always wears me down to my weakest possible state. I knew I had to rationalise this change and the best way I could do this was via empathy with whichever dog we chose to bring into our lives.
I figured whatever I was feeling would probably be nothing compared to what our new dog would be feeling. After all our world stays the same while our dog’s world would be turned upside down.
This process helped me put my own fears into perspective and push them aside to focus on helping our new family member adjust.
We met Evie through Greyhound Adoptions WA, we had been in contact with them for a while and they were helping us find a dog that met our needs. They informed us that a “sweet girl” was needing a home as her foster situation has changed.
We arranged to meet her and fell in love with her almost immediately. A retired racer who had a gentle nature which masked her rough past. We decided to adopt her.
The process for adoption is extremely easy and we organised a pickup date. We officially adopted her on 30th November 2018.
Her first week she was quite guarded, she was still very sweet but she had a nervous side that took a little while to go away. We quickly learned her favourite things were food, sleep and walks.
She began to let her guard down more and more and began to show her personalty to us. It felt much like her gift to us as she began to trust us.
Understanding Her Past & Re-framing Mine
We were told she was rescued from a “shit show” where her and other greyhounds were kept in 2m x 1m cages with wood chips for bedding, fed mush once a day and her only interactions would be racing.
More of her past would show in our interactions. If I turned around fast she would cower and hide, leading us to believe she was physically punished in her old life.
She has yelped from her dreams in the middle of the night and absolutely hates wearing her muzzle.
With each issue she shows, our first reaction is to show her love in a way that we hope she understands she never has to worry about the things that haunt her ever again.
We’ve had to teach her things like air-conditioning is good and ice chips will help cool you down.
Despite all this she is a gentile girl who just wants to make friends with everyone and everything. She absolutely adores children and loves getting pats from strangers on her walks.
Understanding her past has put into perspective how I viewed myself, my past and my relationships with others. Evie’s attitude to the world is one of cautious anxiety but she doesn’t let that stop her. She adjusted and moved forward and doesn’t harbour any hatred.
Doing everything in our power to let her know she’s ok and loved is something I rarely consider for myself. I’ve never really stopped to think that people have the same feelings towards me.
When I wake up in the middle of the night from night terrors my wife is the first one there reassuring me I’m ok and safe. Or confiding in a mate during a gym session that I had been sleeping rough during a bout of PTSD and having him ask me during every session if it was improving. It’s the same thing I’ve been trying to do with Evie. Letting her know we have her back and she will be ok.
Falling Barriers & Stepping Forward
Although I’m very open about my experiences in my past I wouldn’t say I’m always as emotionally open as I should be. I’d rather people tell me their problems then tell people mine.
Adopting Evie has taught me it’s ok to emotionally let my guard down to those who care for me. It’s ok for people to help me when I’m in pain, either emotionally or physically. Amazingly, at 36 this is still something I needed to learn.
I guess it’s better to have learned late than never at all.
Find Out More About Greyhound Adoptions
Links provided by Animals Australia
- Amazing Greys
- Greyhound Rescue Victoria
- Greyhound Safety Net
- Gumtree Greys (also operate in QLD/NSW)
- Gippsland Greyhounds
- Greyhound Adoption Program Victoria (GAP)
New South Wales
- Wollongong Animal Rescue Network (WARN)
- Rescued Greyhounds NSW Central Coast
- Animal Welfare League NSW
- Friends of the Hound (and QLD)
- Greyhound Rescue
- Gumtree Greys (also operate in QLD/VIC)
- Nora’s Foster Hounds
- Greyhound Adoption Program NSW (GAP)
- Greyhounds As Pets (GRNSW)
- Animal Welfare League QLD
- Friends of the Hound (and NSW)
- Gumtree Greys (also operate in NSW/VIC)
- Animals in Need
- Greyhound Rehoming Cairns & Tablelands District
- Greyhounds New Beginnings – Life After the Track
- Greyhound Adoption Program Queensland (GAP)