Having raised two Mobility Puppies from 8-weeks old to advanced training and placement, I have always known how incredible and clever these dogs can be. I had seen first hand what they were capable of, and known the sadness and pride that comes with having your puppy move on from your life towards something bigger and better. I knew in practice the tasks they could do, and in theory the way this would benefit someone in the future.
What I didn’t realise was how truly life changing they are, and could be, for me.
My name is Anne-Marie and I have ME/CFS and POTS. These two small acronyms have completely disrupted my life in the past few years, and leave me with very little energy day to day, as well as pain, dizziness and mobility issues. Yet without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
The average person has 10-15 “useable hours” per day: for work, cooking, family, hobbies, etc. I have roughly 10 useable hours a WEEK, if I’m lucky. And that’s for everything – answering a phone call, making a cup of tea, brushing my teeth, feeding the dog – because every task takes an inordinate amount of energy when your body doesn’t produce it properly.
This means adapting. I’ve adapted my life (with the help of my husband, carer & Brody) to be as low energy as possible. I’ve adapted to find meaning in a life lived largely in bed. I’ve adapted being unable to work, into running a small business manageable from home.
But it also means opportunity. The opportunity to do what I love & the freedom to go at my own pace. To grow a small business in a way that works for me, and (for the most part) not get swept up in what everyone else is doing. And the biggest opportunity of all, to have Brody as a part of my life.
As my health declined over the past few years, and it became clear to me that I would not be able to raise another puppy, it was suggested that I apply for my own Mobility Dog. The MD team were incredibly supportive the entire process, explaining ways a dog could help me – something that I had never thought of in regards to myself!
No one can really prepare you for becoming chronically ill or disabled, particularly at a young age, but my transition was helped by my involvement in Mobility Dogs. When it became clear that I would need to start using a wheelchair to be able to leave the house, the decision was made easier by knowing I could be helping to train a dog at the same time (at that time our Mobility Dog in training Cedric). Having a dog next to me while in the chair meant people gave me extra space and time, and interacted with me without awkwardness, which allowed me to build confidence in using a mobility aid.
Having a Mobility Dog has allowed me to pace my energy, as well as save energy in countless ways. Brody can fetch things I need from a different room without me having to get out of bed, or go get my husband for help when I need it. One of his favourite things to fetch is my slippers, but that’s probably because it usually means I’m getting up and soon it will be breakfast time! He encourages me to maintain a routine and get some fresh air most days while knowing that even if all I can do in a day is feed him, that is enough.
I can’t really even begin to sum up how much Brody has changed my life, because he does so many things, big and small, to help me every single day. His companionship and ability to make me smile can never be quantified, as well as the confidence he gives me in every situation. He gives me purpose and hope, and has brought so much joy to my life.
I will forever be grateful to the amazing people at @mobilitydogs for partnering me with the world’s best dog. “Life changing loyalty” couldn’t possibly be truer, and I am so thankful to be able to experience this with Brody.