Freya arrived to our family in March 2019. It was made possible with rigorous saving up – we committed putting aside tiny amounts of money weekly in to a savings account for a very long time – and research.
In my teens I had had a dog, but ever since I moved to UK I haven’t had a furry friend of my own. It was almost a dull ache in my existence, not having the sound of four paws pounding next to me at all times.
As with Elisa’s complex needs,
I realised I could train the dog to help her. I looked into many breeds, trying to narrow the choice down to what we wanted and needed and what needs the breeds have.
My favourite breed is a shetland sheepdog – my previous dog was a sheltie. Even though I knew that breed very well, I crossed it out from the list. I wanted to teach the dog to help Elisa with her dystonic episodes by laying next to her and maybe even on top of her spasming arms, so the dog needed to be strong and heavy. Lightweight sheltie would have flown off Elisa once her forceful dystonia kicked in..
Taking everything into account,
we decided on a working type Labrador (read from Labradorsite.com about the two types of labradors). It would be agile enough to jump on Elisa when she’s on her wheelchair and strong enough to hold her down if needed – also the eagerness to please and learn were definite positives. I was aware of the negatives, the mouthing (the “need” to grab everything and anything and the constant chewing) and the endless energy, but I was ready to crack on and work with those in mind too.
When I went to see Freya,
I liked her curiosity and calmness. She didn’t yap like her brothers. She wasn’t shy and she was keen on examining me and Melody when we sat there on the floor getting to know the pups. She did mouth, but I had expected that anyway. She let me roll her around, didn’t protest or get anxious, and there I was sold. Freya seemed like the confident little addition that I wanted to have in our family.
After couple of more weeks, she came home and fell in love with Elisa almost instantly.
Freya has proved herself to be a sassy little lady, who only barks at neighbours cats and is endlessly interested in everyone. She loves cuddles and wants to be with her humans at all times.
Freya keeps testing my patience in daily basis,
and we have walked a long way together already – from learning out of the habit of mouthing to walking nicely on a lead. We are not perfect yet, but we are so getting there.
Above all, the kids love Freya.
Elisa is calmer around her – when Freya is close to Elisa, her dystonia seems to ease up.
Melody has an “always-ready-to-play” playmate out of Freya – they’ve got the games of their own from the start.
Ruby is eager to teach Freya tricks.
Freya is my therapy dog. She calms me down when I feel anxious, and she is my pass to get outside for a long walk daily.
She is a dream come true. Not perfect, but we are all learning together.
So what does Dan think about the dog?
“Oh it’s alright. Whatever makes you happy, it makes me happy. No big deal.”