Source : PortMac.News | Street :
Source : PortMac.News | Street | News Story:
News Story Summary:
Dogs bring people together & act as a 'lifeline' during tough times.
"I was chatting to neighbours and joggers and construction workers and staff at the local cafe. Even as an introvert in Melbourne's stage-four lockdown, I was having wholesome interactions with new people every day.
"I wrote about this experience (and the broader phenomenon of how pets bring people together) — and the story really resonated with other dog owners. So we've collected a few of their own special stories.
'A good way to bond'
Nicole Chew brought home her toy cavoodle, Peanut, in November 2020. And, almost a year later, the puppy has enriched her relationships with friends, family, neighbours and the wider community.
"She's a regular topic of conversation and a good way to bond," Nicole says.
"I live in a small apartment complex in Sydney's inner west [and] Peanut has brought everyone together.
"My 10-year-old neighbour takes her out during her home school breaks while I'm working during the day."
There are plenty of locals who will be missing Peanut during lockdown too. Nicole says that her boyfriend used to take Peanut down to the bowls club every afternoon.
"Many older men who attend the club can't have pets in their boarding homes and she brought a lot of joy to the regulars — they joked about designing a jersey for her and making her the face of the club."
Amanda Gordon's dog, Toby, also built loads of connections in her community.
"Eight years ago I moved to a new suburb in Melbourne where I knew no one!" she says.
"I got my cocker spaniel Toby about six months later, and within a few weeks I knew a few dozen locals by sight and their dog's name by memory.
"As an introvert I love to live alone, but having a dog made it so easy to develop a wonderful community of neighbours and good friends that I certainly would not have found without Toby."
Sadly Toby recently passed away, and Amanda is now grieving both her dog and the connections he created.
"The good friends are around and I still walk sometimes, but it isn't the same without a dog," she says.
Jessica Ridout, who is also in Melbourne and living under strict lockdown, is thankful to have these connections through her puppy Ludo.
"I am single, live alone, work from home and am from overseas," she says. "It is not a great combo of factors!"
But it was made a lot better last year, when she met a group of local dog owners.
They caught up every day after work, and now have a group chat to coordinate walks and playtimes.
"I don't know how I would have coped (and continue to cope) without my dog park friends," Jessica says. "They have literally been my lifeline."
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The power of the dog park:
Gemma Freeman has also found support through the diverse group of friends she made at the local dog park.
"They are such a mix," she says. "There's your local truckie, a gentle giant. There's an elderly Indian gentleman who cooks us food and drops off birthday gifts. And there's a beautiful lady from New Zealand and her Aussie husband who have been lifesavers for me."
Gemma and her partner brought home a "dramatic and extroverted" German shepherd puppy, named Diego, who was making their lives incredibly difficult.
He wouldn't sleep at night. He would destroy things in the house. And not even advice from behavioural specialists seemed to help.
"I would show up at the dog park in tears of exhaustion," Gemma says, "and this couple would take my puppy for the day and cook us dinner."
Diego then started forming a real attachment to their friends' puppy, Gracie, and his behaviour improved when he was around her.
Now, Gemma and the couple from the dog park are trialling a "dog swap":
Diego is happy and well-behaved with Gracie, and Gemma has a rescue dog her friends were caring for, "who is much more content to be a solo dog at our place".
"[This group of people] have taught me so much about hospitality, community and supporting each other," she says.
Indira Wrigley discovered something similar when she came to Adelaide to support her mum through chemotherapy.
"My mum makes use of Unley Oval every morning to walk her rescue dog, Tiver, and there is a lovely, ever-changing group of people who also use the oval in the morning," she says.
"They have welcomed many people to the area and support each other through good times and bad.
"'The Oval group' were my daily support, always there with kind words, hugs and anything else I needed."
For many people, even fleeting and incidental encounters with dogs lead to long-lasting relationships.
This is what happened to Jane Britt. She and her cavalier Molly were walking on the beach one day when they stumbled across one of Molly's litter mates, Rebel.
"The two dogs saw each other and played in a way we'd never seen them play with other dogs," Jane says.
"From there, a friendship formed between our families, with the dogs having frequent sleepovers until both of them passed."
And Sarah Hackney actually met her husband through a series of dog-related encounters.
"I met a cute guy with an adorable chocolate labrador on a walk with my German shepherd x labrador once. Had a chat and went on our way," she says.
"Six months later we ran into each other at the local vet getting our dogs bathed. Met at the local dog park the next day, and the rest was history.
"We had a baby within a year, were married a year after that, and have now been together nine years this Christmas."
Judith Stansfield, on the other hand, has spent more than a decade with a huge group of local dog owners.
"I can't begin to tell you how having a dog has brought so many people in my life," she says.
"Twelve years of walking on the beach with [my Australian shepherd] Dakota has brought so much joy into my life.
"[The dog owners of Mentone and Parkdale in Melbourne] have celebrated marriages and births, and marked divorces and deaths together. They were there for me when my husband had a fall at home in 2017 and broke his neck. When I asked people to walk Dakota because I had to be at the hospital, they were there in a flash.
"We lost Dakota in May this year. She was here one day and gone the next, dying very quickly from kidney failure at home in the quiet of a new morning with me stroking her as she took her last breaths.
"And again the dog owners were there."
Story By | Meg Watson