Well that was a year or two. Covid impacted on us all, in various ways. Condolences to those who lost loved ones in very difficult circumstances. Also to those whose businesses crashed, those isolated from their families for months on end, and those who struggled with isolation and anxiety.
It has been a challenging time for sure.
Here at K9 we worked when we could, and have been mostly outdoors for the whole time. The dogs like that of course, although even they get fed up with wind and rain!
The levels of anxiety have been huge for many of the young folk we work alongside. The Reducing Anxiety Around Dogs (RAAD) programme has been busy, both due to youngsters spending increased time indoors, and then everyone getting puppies in lockdown. Sadly many of those pups have ended up in shelters as people begin to get back to normal, often poorly socialise and trained. I have been involved in rehoming one whose owners could no longer manage her. I hope she is getting a happy ending.
We lost our lovely Billy collie dog, who was our anxiety management specialist. His dementia finally affected his quality of life so much we felt it was time to let him have some peace. He leaves a huge Billy shaped hole in our lives.
We have also had human and equine losses, they forever live in our hearts.
New dogs that arrived in our lives, who most of you will have met by now are Dylan, Milo, and Zola. Their training and acclimatisation is ongoing but they are beginning to develop their roles within the project, and we look forward to using their skills more fully next year – if Omicron doesn’t stop us.
We have completed some interventions with amazing young people who are onto their next steps!! Integrated into new groups, education and work experience placements. That makes us so proud of them, even though we miss them! It is exactly what we are here for.
Izzy dog was awarded a PDSA Commendation for her support for young people across so many years. I was awarded a Daily Mirror People Pets Animal Hero Award, which was a huge honour, and involved a glitzy glamorous night in London, a walk on a red carpet, and meeting this years lovely finalists from The Great British Bakeoff. Grateful thanks to whoever nominated me – much appreciated.
It has been a great way to finish the year.
As always the winter solstice, and the start of a new year, allows for time for reflection. At this stage in my life I am gradually learning to not make too many plans, but to go with whatever comes along that I like the look, sound or energy of. I do know that there is a new book on the horizon (You Me and Anxiety), and the promise of some new and interesting projects.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas, it has been a privilege working with you these past months, or years.
And of course to say a thank you to the dogs, not just mine but all dogs, whose love for life is infectious and inspiring.
See you on the other side.