What I have learned about health and happiness from my dog.

I’m clearly not the only one to believe we really can learn from dogs!

Last Friday, I published a post under the title of The healing power of dogs.  This is how that post opened:

How dogs offer us humans health and happiness.

Many months ago, I was contacted by a Peter Bloch offering to write a guest post on the subject of the healing power of dogs.  Peter had read a post that I had published in July last year which prompted the email dialogue between us.

Not going to say much more at this stage except that today I am republishing that post from last July.  On Monday, I will introduce Peter and his guest post.  Then on Tuesday, I will speak of my own experiences both as entrepreneurial mentor and as a ‘customer’ of a wonderful psychotherapist back in Devon during 2007.

So, as promised, here is that guest post from Peter.

oooOOOooo

Fergus, the Healing Dog.  A sketch by Mrs. Peter Bloch
Fergus, the Healing Dog. A sketch by Mrs. Peter Bloch

My dog Fergus is a philosopher, and the nature of health and happiness is his area of special expertise. When he learned about Paul’s blog he became very excited because he has always been convinced that dogs have so much to teach humans about life. As much as anything to have a little peace from his continual philosophical musings, I agreed to set out his theories here for the benefit of everyone who loves dogs.

Fergus would like it to be known that when he is free to pursue the activities to which his particular breed is most naturally attracted then, as a dog, he feels happy, energised, purposeful and fulfilled in every way. Fergus has also observed that when he is able to participate as a co-operating member of his ‘pack’, he feels safe and secure, is clear about how to proceed with his life, and at night he sleeps like a dog.

But Fergus says that when these conditions do not apply, he can be quite remarkably miserable. As a Greyhound, he loves to run very fast, and he is not at all interested in things like retrieving balls, or wallowing in water.

Fergus doing what he loves - running very fast!
Fergus doing what he loves – running very fast!

However once he was in the care of someone who Fergus thinks we should just call ‘Sarah’.  Sarah has a Labrador and thinks that all dogs really ought to be like her dog, resulting in Fergus being put under considerable pressure to enjoy activities that he could not understand.

That lead to Sarah telling Fergus’ owners that he was a difficult dog when in fact he was just a misunderstood dog. He was amazed how, in just one day, he went from sleeping ‘like a dog‘ to ‘living in the doghouse‘!

Indeed, within a week he was suffering from digestive problems and skin disorders, despite an identical diet, and was found to be engaging in several bizarre neurotic behaviours. Fortunately, when more congenial conditions were restored, Fergus returned to feeling safe and secure.

Fergus often expresses surprise that people often do not understand that the freedom to be himself, the true dog that he is, including living in unifying solidarity with his pack, is a fundamental requirement for his health; in all meanings of the word.

For instance, Fergus noticed that Sarah has a son called Henry, who really wanted to be a designer. But his mother thought that it would be better for him to be a lawyer. In fact, Sarah was so certain that in the end Henry became a lawyer. Fergus observes that Henry is always suffering from digestive problems and skin disorders and sometimes behaves a little strangely.  Doctors have not been able to find out what is wrong with him, despite all sorts of diets and medicines being tried.

But here’s the rub. When Henry goes out for a walk with Fergus, Fergus always runs as fast as he can and his resulting happiness always makes Henry feel so much better.

Henry is convinced that Fergus is a healer! Who could argue with that?

Fergus, the healing dog.
Fergus, the healing dog.

oooOOOooo

Trust me, when I’m feeling a little down the dogs all know.  All of them allow me to come and bury my face in their fur, or rest my face alongside their face.  Perhaps one of the most powerful gifts from our dogs is their wonderful, unconditional love for us funny humans.

I have no connection with Peter other than being delighted to have this guest post from him (or was it from Fergus??).  Peter offered this brief summary of his work, which I am pleased to include:

Peter Bloch has developed a form of existential and person-centred psychotherapy through touch. In this therapeutic model, health is defined as the ability to be true to oneself and open to genuine relationships with others – qualities that he finds in abundance in his dog.

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