Fordhall Farm

From outdoor cooking to feeding pigs, Fordhall Farm has lots to offer.

Thank you to Bex, Manager is Care Farm Manager at Fordhall Farm, she share with us about their work.

The Fordhall Community Land Initiative has been running a Care Farm since September 2015 having initially worked closely with the Wayfarers group in Market Drayton to enable adults with learning difficulties to come to the farm and experience the community at Fordhall.

Some of you may be asking what is a Care Farm, so here is the official definition from the Care Farming organisation that provides a voice and support for care farmers.

“A Care farm provides health, social and educational care services through supervised, structured programmes of farming-related activities for a wide range of vulnerable people (Care Farming UK 2014).”

At Fordhall we are able to offer a wide variety of opportunities for adults with learning difficulties who wish to experience working outside in a range of settings.

We grow, cook and eat produce from raised beds in the community garden, help with conservation work on the farm, enjoy walks in the woodland and creatively engage in a variety of activities 48 weeks of the year.

We work to help build people’s self-esteem, their communication skills and a sense of place and belonging within the community.

The atmosphere at Fordhall is relaxed and informal and anyone coming to the sessions is seen as being part of the team, helping and contributing to create a welcoming and enjoyable place to visit.

Primarily the group works in the community garden where we grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. We plan what to grow each year and everyone is involved in sowing seeds, weeding, helping to grow the plants and harvesting them.

Food that we grow is taken home by anyone who helps in the garden. We also have regular outdoor cooking sessions when we get to cook and eat the wonderful produce grown and surplus is used to make chutneys and jams to sell in the farm shop. Our wonderful clay oven is fired up to make great pizzas which everyone enjoys.

Our group also has time to stretch their legs and go for a walk; a favourite is down to the woods to sit on the bench and look out across the Tern valley, an opportunity to take in the scenery and enjoy the peace of the woods.

We have noticed since people have been coming to the Care Farm group that they are fitter and healthier as a result of being outside, working on the farm.

Here are some observations we thought you might like to read,

MrsT wrote to us recently….

PT really enjoys coming to the farm; every Tuesday he gets his bag ready for the next day, I don’t know what you are doing that is different but long may it last”

Her son has struggled to attend other services but each time he arrives at Fordhall he is grinning from ear to ear!

CF enjoys making chutneys and jams and makes sure everything is tidied up and put away at the end of our cooking session.

“I like to feed the pigs, it was lovely.” RL

Some background information about the sessions:

This is a chargeable service and support is given to each individual from fully trained and experienced staff.

We currently run a service one day a week, on a Wednesday from between 9 am and 4pm, and we are now looking to expand the service to a Thursday as more people want to come and join us.

Light refreshments are provided but not lunch.

If you are aware of somebody interested in attending our sessions, please call:

Bex Syrett our care farm manager.

As Bex is freelance it is best to contact her by phone: 07875 742 522 (please, not on a Wednesday) or e-mail: bex.syrett@fordhallfarm.com and she will arrange an initial visit and taster session them.

If you would like to visit Fordhall just to have a look around, we are open everyday except Monday and there is no entry charge. Our website is www.fordhallfarm.com

And to find out more about care farms go to www.carefarminguk.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kelda training team

Kelda’s News from Belo, Brazil-one week in!

Kelda‘s News from Belo, Brazil-one week in!

We’ve now been out in Belo, Brazil for just over week. It’s been a fantastic experience, but it hasn’t all gone according to plan! Firstly, it rained solidly for 3 days. None stop!! So much for getting to paddle in better conditions! On the plus side, it has still been warm…..but not quite what we expected!!

The Olympic and Paralympic Squad together in Brazil

Last Saturday we did our first time trials of the season. This is where we treat it as a race day and go through all our processes, both mentally and physically, and then deliver 2 x 200m’s under race conditions.

I’ve put a lot of things in place with both my coach and the team psych to help with this “race day” preparation, and I was really happy with what I delivered. It felt solid, focused and one of the best 200m I’ve done.

However, when I found out the time, I was incredibly disappointed! Both my runs had been 57 seconds – that’s 4 seconds slower than my PB!

Now water and weather conditions play a big part in the times we can hit, so I could cope with the slow time, but I was 5 seconds behind Anne Dickens, my rival for the slot for the Rio paralympics. I’ll be honest, I was gutted! After all the hard work over the winter and the gains that have been made, I expected to be much closer to her than I was.

I’ve always said I wanted this blog to be open and honest….so I’m not going to hide from admitting that I struggled for a couple of days. It really knocked me. 5 seconds is a huge amount of time over 200m and I really started to question whether I was capable of making up that amount of time over the next 5 months.

The trouble is, once you start to doubt yourself it then starts to impact on your sessions. The next day I had a bad session in the gym, followed by a couple of poor sessions on the water. It turns into a vicious circle, the more poor sessions I had the more it reinforced my thoughts that maybe I couldn’t do it.

I desperately wanted the feisty, determined, gritty Kelda back…..but it just wasn’t happening!!

I guess sometimes you just have to be kind to yourself and accept that you’re only human and can’t be smashing it 365 days a year!

Our team psych then said to me “Kelda, you have a choice, you either say 5 seconds is too much, and you give up and stop trying. Or you say to yourself, ok, 5 seconds is a lot, so I’m going to use every session I’ve got to try and close that gap.”

I didn’t like being dweeby….and I knew I definitely didn’t want to give up!!!!!!

I woke up the next morning with a new sense of purpose. 5 seconds in 5 months…..that’s 1 second a month….that’s 0.25 a week…..now that seems achievable!!

I went in and smashed the gym!! BOOM!!!

It just shows how much of what we’re capable of achieving is all in our heads and in our mind set! Our only limitation, is the limitations we place on ourselves

So, it’s time to give myself a kick up the bum and approach things with a similar attitude to when I missed out on selections for the World Championships. I know what I’ve got to do, so let’s push any doubts or negativity out of my mind and get out there and give it my all. Time to believe, time to work hard…..time to make it happen!!!!!

 

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Kelda tells the ups & downs & now flies to Belo in Brazil with the rest of the GB Paracanoe Squad….

On Friday the 15th January, I’ll be flying out to Belo in Brazil with the rest of the GB Paracanoe Squad for a 2 week training camp that will be a vital part of our preparation for the Paralympics in September.

Rio_PicBranded.122507.113030

After all the ups and downs of the last 12 months I am incredibly proud to be part of the team going out there, and this is a huge stepping stone in fulfilling my childhood dream of representing my country at the Olympics.

I still have to pinch myself everyday to make sure I realise that this is actually happening!

It’s been hard work since we came back after Christmas, going straight into 2 days of performance testing. I delivered solid performances, although I didn’t smash it quite like I’d hoped. Still, improvements are continually happening and I’m feeling strong and ready to take on everything the training camp has to offer.

We’ll be staying in Belo for two weeks training at the same venue as the holding camp for the actual Paralympics. This will give us the opportunity to get familiar with the training environment, enabling us to deliver peak performances come September. Vital research will also be done into our sleep patterns, the effect of training at altitude, as well as all areas of training, hydration and nutrition. From this research, leanings will be drawn and any necessary actions taken in order to maximize our performances at the Games. It’s exciting to be part of such a process.

We’ll then go up to Rio itself for two days to familiarise ourselves with the actual Olympic venue. This is an amazing opportunity to go into the Games the best prepared we can possibly be.

Thanks must go to UK Sport and Lottery Funding, without whom this trip would not be possible. Hand in hand with the World Class support and coaching we receive through British Canoeing, we really do enter into the Olympic year as genuine contenders at the Games. I am proud and incredibly grateful to be part of this amazing team.

I intend to put my heart and sole into every aspect of training in Brazil, maximise every opportunity I can, and come back fitter, stronger and with some vital experience under my belt.

Final selection all comes down to 2 races on the 5th June. Anne Dickens is the competitor I have to beat if I’m going to be the boat that goes to Rio….and what a competitor she is! Anne has medalled at the World Championships for the last 4 years, and I have massive respect for her as a paddler…..so I’ve not got an easy job on my hand! However, I love a challenge, I truly believe I can do it, and I will be giving above and beyond over the next 6 months to make sure I give this my very best.

Whether you think you can, or you think you cant, you’re probably right” Quote from Author Henry Ford

I know what I think……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelda Reflecting on 2015 & hoping 2016 will be Golden.

Things were looking exciting at the start of the year, however I then got injured, didn’t get selected for the World Championships…..and the prospect of getting selected for the paralympics felt a million miles away! I look back now, and it was a particularly tough time and it made me question a lot of things. However, I often say to people it’s all about the journey that these challenges take you on…..and I came out of it stronger and more determined than ever to do everything I could to be the athlete that I knew I could be.

I was very proud when the coaches told me that I was staying on the Rio pathway, and since September I’ve had a new sense of self belief and purpose. It’s been an incredible journey, and it’s not finished yet!!!! We’re off to Brazil in January for a training camp and then before we know it, it’ll be the world Championships and then straight into the selections for Rio on June 5th. The next 6 months are going to be the ones that really make it count, so it’s time to work harder and be more committed than I’ve ever done in my life before!!!

There are so many people to thank that have played such an important part in making this all happen. First and foremost, the coaches at the High Performance Centre. They do an amazing job and somehow manage to put up with all of us demanding athletes! But none of this could happen without the funding from UK Sport. They provide us with fantastic facilities and really do give us the best chance of being a World Class Squad that leads the rest of the nations.

For me personally I must also thank my sponsors for this year, East Midlands Civil Engineering, The Charter 600 Charity Committee, J and PR, HBP Training and Geoff Ward Film and Photography. Without their support the journey this year could’ve had a very different outcome.

I must also thank Skechers UK for all their help in sourcing and providing suitable training footwear that compensates for the limitations in my ankle, and Brad Snape and Andrew King from One Stop for their support as we move into 2016.

Marc Woods, himself a 5 x Paralympic swimmer, has been like a guardian angel to me over the last 12 months and I can’t thank him enough for all the help and support he’s given me. We all need a “Marc” in our lives and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the benefit of his advice and words of wisdom.

There are going to be so many people to thank when I’m stood on that podium…..and I will be doing everything I can to make them all proud in 2016.

Aside from all the training, I had the pleasure of going up to Wigan to talk to 180 children from St Wilfred’s primary academy. It was an awesome afternoon and I was so impressed with both the school and the amazing energy and enthusiasm from all the children. It went a little bit bonkers when I gave them all a balloon to blow up, representing whatever they might dream of achieving. The idea was that if your balloon bursts, blows away or looses all its air, then that’s ok, it’s all about finding another balloon and working as hard as you can to blow that back up…..don’t worry when things don’t always work out, the important thing is to pick yourself back up and keep going….whether that’s trying to blow that same balloon back up, or whether you just find a new balloon all together. There ended up with a lot of AWOL balloons, but they were an awesome bunch of kids and really got the message I was putting across.

Talking of messages…..below is a link to a short video showing one of the amazing stories from our Climbing Out programmes this year. If ever there was a message to be given, I think this says it all. I’d ask you to please take 2 minutes out of your day to watch the clip.

https://youtu.be/71n5xQ5rAOg

Well, all that’s left to be said, is to say “I hope you all had a Merry Christmas & wishing you a Happy New Year. Thank you for all the wonderful support you’ve given me throughout 2015…..and let’s hope it’s a very golden 2016!

Kelda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finding Our New (Normal) Life with a Urostomy

Thank you to Amanda White, SDN Member who agreed we could share the blog she wrote for @Coloplast UK. 

In January this year, husband Stephen was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Here Amanda gives an insight into what life has been like for both Stephen and herself… http://myostomy.co.uk/2015/11/26/life-with-a-urostomy/

Thank you Amanda & Stephen, all of us at Shropshire Disability Network send you our good wishes.

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Kelda shares some exciting news….

Kelda shares some exciting news….

It’s been fantastic news this week to receive confirmation that I have been allocated a place on the British Canoeing Podium Potential Programme and will be placed on Funding Band E in the lead up to Rio next year.

This support through UK Sport and Lottery funding makes a huge difference to my training and the funding they provide enables me to train full time and commit 100% to being the very best I can be. Lottery funding also provides the whole squad with World Class coaching and facilities….we are incredibly lucky and hopefully the impact of their support will be shown in the results in Rio next year. I know the whole squad are incredibly grateful for their support, and for me personally, it makes the difference between it happening and it not! Thank you UK sport!:

Thanks to the additional sponsorship from East Midlands Civil Engineering Ltd www.emcivils.com, I’m now only £9,000 off reaching my target of £20,000 to fund my training through to Rio next September. I can’t put into words how grateful I am for all the support I’ve received, in so many different ways, and it only drives me harder every day in training!

And training’s been pretty hard!! We’re in a hypertrophy block now, so it’s all about getting strong….so lots of gruelling sessions in the gym! Yes, it’s hard, but I’m slowly making the gains I need to make, and I’m excited about the impact it’ll have on my paddling. It’s only 6 weeks until we leave for the training camp in Bello, Brazil and before we know it, it’ll be time for the World Championships. It’s then only 1 month to go until Rio selections! So there’s no time for slacking, no time to have an ‘easy day’…every session counts!

277 days to go….and I intend to make good use of every single one of them!

It’s been tough trying to keep everything moving with Climbing Out while I’m so focused on training, but we’re in a great position as we move into 2016, with 5 programmes planned for next year all of which are already fully funded. We’ll be running 2 programmes for young people in recovery from cancer, 2 programmes for young Kidney patients and a new programme linking up with Meningitis Now working with young people recovering from Meningitis.

Thanks must go out to Carnegie Great Outdoors who are taking much of the workload off myself while I concentrate on training. Without their support it would’ve been difficult to keep everything running and it’s fantastic that at such a busy time we are managing to reach more young people than ever.

With Christmas just round the corner, we seem to be moving at a break neck speed into 2016 – but what an exciting 2016 it will hopefully be!

Shropshire Disability Network wishes to thank Kelda for her latest blog & wish her all the best. This is her 43rd blog for us, as she shares with us her journey to Rio 2016. We all want to thank her for her commitment & dedication by sharing her inspiring story. Looking forward to the next blog!

 

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Kelda writes- Keeping Things in Perspective

Kelda writes- Keeping Things in Perspective!

It’s been a pretty brutal few weeks of training….and so it should be – we’re talking about the Olympics, not a village fete!!

I’ve pushed myself to my absolute limits over the last couple of weeks, and just when you get to the point that you think you have nothing left, you find a bit more! As my great friend and 5 x paralympian Marc Woods keeps telling me….”that’s where the medals are won!” I’ve had to keep reminding myself of that at those times when my heads gone down and I’ve just wanted to stop….and there’s been quite a few of those I can tell you!!!

But the awesome thing is, when you keep pushing through, in time, the gains start to happen. I’m feeling a little broken but strong, and I’m excited about the impact that all this will have on my paddling.

I’ve set myself some pretty ambitious goals for 2016, but I’ve got a new found confidence about making them happen!

Sometimes you can become a little bit obsessed and all consumed in training, but last Friday I was able to put things very much back into perspective.

Award winners Chelsy Dixon and Molly Evans with Stephen Sutton's mum, Jane

Award winners Chelsy Dixon and Molly Evans with Stephen Sutton’s mum, Jane

I attended the Midlands Children of Courage Awards, where two young people from Climbing Out had been nominated for awards.

It was an amazing evening with so many inspiring and incredible stories. I was so proud of all the young people that attended the awards to support Chelsey Dixon and Molly Evans, the two girls nominated. The friendship and support that was so evident between all of the young people was something very special to see and made me realise just how much long term impact Climbing Out is having on the lives of the young people we work with.

It was a very special evening, with Molly winning “Fundraiser of the Year” and Chelsey winning the “Stephen Sutton Award”.

Chelsey’s award meant so much, not just to Chelsey, but to all of the young people attending. Many of them had known Stephen before he died, and in the past they’d often talked to me about him and I could always tell how much they thought of him.

For Chelsey to win the award in his memory was a very special moment, and I know how much it meant to all the young people to talk with Stephens mother at the end of the evening. Thank you to The St James’s Place Foundation for hosting such a special night.

Gold medals of course play a massive part in my own personal journey at the minute, but when you meet such inspirational young people and appreciate the challenges they’ve overcome and the incredible things they’ve achieved, it really does keep your feet on the ground.

Yes, medals are important, and I’ll be doing my utmost to make that happen, but let’s never forget to keep things in perspective.

 

 

 

freerider-kensington

SDN invited our Sponsors Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors to write on Mobility Scooters!

Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors are delighted to be supporting Shropshire Disability Network (SDN), a fantastic local organisation that provides a voice for disabled people across Shropshire.

We were asked by SDN for more information regarding mobility scooters, their use and insurance. Mobility scooters are an important tool for enabling independence and regularly used. However, those who use these scooters should be aware that they owe a duty of care to those around them and in particular to pedestrians.

Very often mobility scooters are used on pavements, as this is the safest place to use them. Drivers of scooters may not be aware that they need to obey the highway code giving priority to pedestrians and showing consideration for other pavement users.

There is guidance on their use set out in the Highway Code at Rule 36;

Manual wheelchairs and Class 2 vehicles are those with an upper speed limit of 4 mph (6 km/h) and are designed to be used on pavements. Class 3 vehicles are those with an upper speed limit of 8 mph (12 km/h) and are equipped to be used on the road as well as the pavement”.

We recently successfully settled a case where our client was injured by a mobility scooter. Our client was a pedestrian who was knocked from the pavement into the road by a mobility scooter travelling too fast. Our client suffered nasty injuries to her legs caused by the scooter continuing to run after colliding with her and driving onto her legs. Fortunately, the scooter in that matter was insured, which meant that the Defendant driver of the scooter, who was understandably distressed by the accident itself, could allow her insurer to deal with the matter on her behalf, both in terms of correspondence and meeting any settlement and costs of the claim.

Whilst there is no requirement at the moment under UK domestic law for a mobility scooter to be insured, a recent decision in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) case of Damijan Vnuk v Zavarovalnica Triglav (2014) may mean that domestic law requires amendment. More details on that case can be found in a very useful blog by my colleague Gosia Bronisz-Handley http://blog.lblaw.co.uk/when-is-a-tractor-not-a-tractor/. However, the specific point here is that the ECJ stated that the term “use of a vehicle” extends to any vehicle being used “as a means of transport…” and that the term “vehicle” as set out in the First Motor Directive is “any motor vehicle intended to travel on land and propelled by mechanical power, but not running on rails”. It is likely this means that mobility scooters would be caught by this and should therefore be insured.

Whether domestic law will be amended to clarify the implications of this case remains to be seen, but from a practical point of view any driver of a mobility scooter needs to consider the implications of not having insurance where the scooter is involved in an accident. In many circumstances drivers of mobility scooters owe a duty of care to pedestrians to drive the scooter safely. If a breach of that duty causes injury, the driver could face legal proceedings for damages. Where a scooter is not insured the driver of the scooter would need to fund, any damages settlement or award, as well as their own and the Claimant’s legal costs of bringing the claim. This could be significant and best advice is to make sure the mobility scooter is insured.

Louise Howard

Personal Injury Solicitor at Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kelda writes- Some good news….at last! I’m back on track for Rio.

Kelda writes- Some good news….at last! I”m back on track for Rio!

We’re straight back into the thick of training now….and it hurts! But as the old saying goes “No pain, no gain!”

We’re working hard, but it’s all been worth it! This week I’ve had the news I’ve been waiting for…..they’ve decided to take me forward as the GB 2nd  boat and I’m currently on the list to go to the training camp in Brazil in January! This is a huge stepping stone for me and makes all the up’s and downs on the last few months worth every ounce of digging deep that it’s taken to keep going.

I’m now back on track for Rio…it’s not going to be easy, and there’s a great deal of hard work, discipline and sweaty sessions to come over the winter if I’m going to get where I know I can go. But it’s happening – and that is all I needed to know!

I’m paddling well and feeling strong – it’s also given me a huge confidence boost to know that the coaches believe in me. It’s one thing to convince yourself that you believe you can do it, but to have the backing of the coaches means a massive amount to me. I can feel the difference in my approach to training since they told me of their decision. I’ve got everything to play for now, I feel part of the squad and I’m going to be giving it everything…… and then a bit more…..to come out in the spring ready to challenge the GB first boat.

I’ve now handed in my notice at Battle Back for the next 12 months so I can concentrate on training full time…that may be a little brave (or maybe stupid) as I still haven’t raised the sponsorship I need – but hey, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have no intention of letting it slip me by. I’ll make things work somehow!

Whether you believe you can, or you believe you can’t…you’re probably right.”

I believe I can!!

It’s bizarre for “believing” to be so relevant to my own journey right now – on Friday night I was lucky enough to be invited as the guest speaker at the Wigan Sports Awards. The theme for the evening was “Believe” – so it fitted in perfectly with my story!

It was an amazing night and I met some incredible people, I felt very privileged to get the opportunity to talk to a room full of so much support. It was touching, and very inspiring, to speak to people afterwards and realise how much they could relate to my own journey. I felt slightly embarrassed when people said how inspired they’d been by my story, but actually, what I take away from the evening, is just how powerful sport can be, and if the ripple effect of my own journey can then help others, then that is a truly fantastic thing.

I received this message on face book the following evening….

Your story last night at Wigan helped inspire my 11 old daughter Nicole to a Silver medal, in the British indoor freestyle Snowboarding championship today, even after getting to bed at midnight, thank you”

This just blew me away, and means nearly as much as any Gold medal…but the biggest congratulations go to Nicole – if she chose to take on board some of what I said on Friday night and use it to spur her on in her competition then that is full credit to her, especially at just 11yrs old! A true champion in the making!:-)

A massive congratulations must go out to all the awards winners and nominees who were all making remarkable achievements. It was a pleasure to meet and chat with them all. Congratulations must also go to Wigan SDU for organising such a fantastic night.

So, now it’s back to believing in my own journey, getting my head down and making it happen…..if Nicole can do it, then so can I!

 

 

 

 

A Dogs Tail-Austerity & the Bedroom Tax! (Part 3) by Selkie

Austerity and Bedroom Tax has sadly affected many companion dogs as well as people.

Austerity and Bedroom Tax has sadly affected many companion dogs as well as people. And the numbers flowing into Rescue Centres continues to grow. Vets fees and Food have put keeping a dog out of reach for many people, and they have had to take the sad decision to place their dogs in Rescue; the Bedroom Tax has also taken it’s toll, people having to move out of their rented homes to smaller homes and fewer and fewer rented properties allow dogs; many dogs are entering Rescue confused and anxious, having to leave their homes; some have great difficulty adjusting to kennel life.

Various Rescue Centres are taking in stray and abused dogs from abroad from countries also hit badly by austerity.

On a trip to the Rescue Centre a few months ago, having phoned ahead and asked if our 3 year old granddaughter could meet a child friendly dog to cuddle (it’s worth mentioning that the Rescue Centres always need volunteer walkers), we had a lovely meeting with a beautiful, gentle giant dog. The lovely lass (Bex) who works at the Centre told me about a WAIST BELT. My muscle power waxes and wanes and walking is a challenge but the waist belt is a super invention  the lovely dog safely and discreetly secured to the waist belt by one lead, with another lead firmly clasped in granddaughter’s and off we toddled with granddaughter holding the lead (whilst the other lead was securely and discreetly attached to my waist belt) leaving another ‘handle’ half way down the belt lead ‘in case of emergency’. The belt has other attachments (poo bags; treats bag; etc., even a mobile phone pouch) and more can be attached if required, (I purloined a couple of carabineers from my husbands shop, also another couple of pouches – the carabineers then clip on and attach to the belt ). I use the waist belt to let our large foster dogs out, while the little dog happily sits on my lap and can even use it to walk the one when I’m in the power chair. Apparently sports folk use them to take their dogs snowboarding or mountain biking etc.,

CLICKER

A very useful, low cost training aid, even available in ‘loud’/quiet dual mode.

A fast, simple way to train a dog. Click the clicker and immediately give the dog a treat. In a relatively short time, just a click and they will come running  very useful for trips to the garden and recall.

EXERCISE

My husband takes the dogs for a run most days. One of the dogs goes to work with him, so I entertain the other at home. I hide treats under cushions etc., click the clicker and she happily seeks them out. A treat at a time, several times and she’s ready to snuggle up and rest, tired but happy.

The total acceptance, obedience and companionship of dogs is wonderful and very therapeutic. They sense so much, and can ‘pick up’ if I have a migraine, and will snuggle up quietly. They alert me by the type of bark if a caller is known or a stranger. Their company is reassuring and solace in the lonely times of staring at the wall during bad hours/days. Their joy at running around the garden is ‘contagious’ and their ‘quirks’ fascinating (the one hates the rain and runs in and out as fast as she can; the other loves the rain, dancing and prancing around in it – just before he comes in and ‘decorates’ the walls with water splashes.

ADULT DOGS

It’s maybe worth mentioning that for people with a chronic illness or certain disabilities, and from my own experience of raising puppies when I was healthy, the amount of work, chewing, and clean ups involved with a puppy would be beyond me capabilities these days. The sweetest, most eager to be trained in our experience is an adult rescue dog. If the dog has been in kennels for quite a while, then it can take a little time for the dog to ‘settle’ and gain confidence to ask to ‘go out’ (to the loo) gentle encouragement and lots of old newspapers and if possible a lightweight ‘spills’ vacuum can soon get the dog used to the idea. I’ve found a ‘gentle’ positive approach helps best ‘ignore the negative, praise the positive’ particularly with Rescue Dogs. And they can take a bit longer ‘to settle’ whilst they work out the approach of their new human companions.

LEADS, LEADS AND MORE LEADS

At times I can’t get outside but want to make sure I can bring them back if no clicker is to hand, several leads linked together and attached to collars mean I can stay indoors and the dogs can have a jolly good walk around outdoors.

Most Rescue Centres seem to welcome dog cuddlers as well as dog walkers, we have spent some pleasant half hours brushing a dog each from the Centre and the dogs seem to enjoy meeting people.

Again, from a purely selfish perspective, as someone whose working life, social life, and most friends gradually slipped away and I am unable to interact with people most of the time, the foster animals have filled a previously empty void and it somehow helps me to feel ‘useful’, gives me a sense of companionship and they accept me just as I am at any given time. As I sit here typing this, the room is filled with the sound of gentle, contented snoring (from the dogs, not the husband ) – in turn I am soothed and quietly content, what a very special way to end the day!!