One thing it is really important to stress is that fear is a healthy, normal reaction intended to keep us safe. There are many times that we experience fear that help us make good choices- for example where not to walk, or who not to trust. One thing I hope I do is allow the dog phobic person the chance to make good, informed choices and strategies to manage the fear they may be feeling. There is a mixture of information, strategy and fun!
Time for me to shut up and let other people to say how it helped, and the difference it made.
Rebecca says about my work with her daughter Ellie
“When I contacted you, we had just been for a day at the beach which Ellie had not been able to enjoy because of the dogs that she came across. This was typical of a day out and I worried for Ellie that it would only get worse. Ellie’s fear of dogs has been a life long issue.
From the very start, you were calm, friendly and you spoke to Ellie in a way that enabled her to connect directly with you, without needing me as an intermediary. Not many adults achieve that with Ellie but you gained her trust very quickly which I think has been vital.
I think that the pace has been ideal for Ellie. The first time, you came to see you Ellie, you didn’t bring a dog which gave Ellie the chance to get to know you and to understand what the plan was and in her own way to let you know how she felt, although I know that she didn’t say much that day.
Once we started the dog sessions, the difference was immediate. The concept of helping her to live at peace in a world where she will regularly encounter dogs rather aiming to make her love dogs is one of the elements that is important to your ongoing success with Ellie. She knows that you understand and that your goal is not for her to be a dog lover. This has given her the freedom to talk to you and work with you around how to cope with her fear and how to find the best strategies for her, together.
So far, the most obvious progress is that if we are walking past dogs on leads, Ellie is no longer frightened. I no longer get anxious and step in. She can walk past dogs with no reaction now. The next challenge now is how to get her coping with dogs off the lead and I’m sure that you and she together, will find a way. “
How wonderful to read- it goes without saying that Ellie herself is a determined young lady who will work very hard to overcome her fear- and who has already offered to keep Billy If I would let her!
Karen says about our work with her daughter Jessica-
“We were very thankful of being referred to the K9 project. The work that Chris, Kev and the wonderful Cassie along with Taz, Ruby & Billy did with Jessica really changed her life, she no longer put herself in danger at the first sight of a dog. 6 years on we even have our own dog and you’d never know that she once had a phobia of dogs.
Jessica says ‘I loved meeting Cassie, Taz, Ruby & Billy. Without the help I received we wouldn’t ever have been able to get a dog of our own’.”
They made the local paper and now have their own very beautiful puppy!
When I worked with Tina’s son Jack, who as a young adult with Downs Syndrome was very scared of dogs – I discovered he was a West Ham Supporter – so a facebook appeal ended up with a West Ham scarf which Cassie was happy to wear. Tina says Jack is still scared when dogs are off lead around him that he doesn’t know but that he is more able to control it and
“I use the techniques you taught us reminding him to stay calm and look straight ahead and not to look at the dog. It definitely was very helpful and I think you approached it in a good way gradually introducing a bit more each week, gradually building Jack’s confidence with one dog and then more. I think Jack became confident with your dogs but cannot always transfer that to other dogs. His Dad has recently got a puppy and Jack has met it a few times now and apparently he is scared each time at first but will then stroke him and throw a ball for him so I hope this will build his confidence. “
For me that is the main point- building confidence. A confidence that comes from knowing that you can either loose a fear or learn ways to control it; that your life does not have to be limited and you can do all the things that other people can do. It might sometimes be a bit harder, but it is possible.