Our Journey so Far – Me and my Psychiatric Assistance Dog

 

This is our journey so far…

Amadeus is a 13 month old standard poodle who is my psychiatric assistance dog and he is helping me gain some independence, access to the outside world, exercise and he also gives me things I can not get from human interaction. The conditions and illnesses which Amadeus aids me with are Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Agoraphobia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Psychotic Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

The requirement for me to have an assistance dog was in fact my last hope in having a more fulfilled life, in this able focused and neuro-typical world. Due to sever mental illnesses I have been unable to lead a “normal” life for over 11 years and some things have never been achievable.

When using the word “normal”, I use it in the sense that many things achieved by able people are taken for granted, such as being able to leave your home with ease everyday, crossing roads, being outside independently, going into shops and other establishments, speaking to strangers or service people, taking public transport, being able to drive, listening to music on headphones, meeting friends, going to hospital/doctor appointments…

the list goes on…

Very kindly a close friend of mine started a GoFundMe page and raised enough money for me to get Amadeus and all the things we needed to get the show on the road. People from all over the world donated and before I knew it, we were taking Amadeus home and the rest is history.

So in under a year I have achieved a great deal with Amadeus; starting with simply stepping outside my front door with him and closing the doors behind us whilst no one else was home – this was my first and most challenging of exercises.

Then we walked up the road and started with the closest cul-de-sac, completing this for up to two weeks at a time, then moving onto the next. Eventually mastering  three and staying in this comfort zone until I was ready to go past a busy pub and cross a small road by a large cul-de-sac. By this point I genuinely was astonished by my progress and felt a sense of freedom which would make me promise myself to never let go or go back – a lot of pressure but I have no “happy” medium abilities, it is black and white or nothing.

After this achievement my sights were set on going further up our road to a small green in front of an old Victorian prison, knowing this would be ideal for Amadeus to do his business and for me to be near some kind of nature – with trees and grass (even though it is next to a main road and very busy roundabout). This feat was very challenging, managing to do this once a week and slowly progressing to be able to do it more regularly over several weeks, before committing this as the place we would walk everyday.

By this point Amadeus was getting to be almost one and a feeling of rebirth flowed through my veins. So one day impulsively I decided to go the other way from my front gate, up the road and over a busy bridge to the cemetery behind my house, as this was something I could do without crossing any main roads  – plus it would give me an abundance of nature, things to look at and a longer walk for Amadeus.

We did it!

However this was impulsively done which was me jumping up my ladder and not safely stepping up one rung at a time, which is a trait due to my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This meant I was wiped out for almost two weeks due to the exhaustion of doing something so outside of my comfort zone, which of course made me have sever anxiety symptoms – even though at the time it was enjoyable, but when you get the same adrenaline from walking up the road to a cemetery as someone bungy jumping or sky diving – it can be a really surreal feeling.

My next challenge is crossing a main road in front of my house which luckily has a pedestrian crossing and then walking straight down small residential roads to a beautiful pond and recreational field. My plan is to try and achieve this, this summer, which will be my greatest achievement so far. Amadeus will be able to go off lead in the field, we can walk around the pond, watch the wildlife, sit and read or listen to music; it is something I dream about constantly.

Even though this has changed my life, there are still days I can not go out, there are days when being outside is like being assaulted by every piece of sensory information at once, leaving me unable to process details and all I can do is rest and recover.

So if you have never thought of how privileged you are to leave your home in a carefree manner and when interacting with the outside world and its tasks it is no big deal to you; then I challenge you to think of what your life would be like if you were unable to do these things?

 


As a small art project I documented my journey so far with Amadeus and distorted the images to show the different sensory issues I encounter when outside. This was challenging as simply taking the photos by busy roads was disorientating, however with Amadeus keeping me grounded and helping me feel present and real I was able to do a lot more than I thought I would. There is a slide show, all images underneath and some videos.

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Amadeus the Poodle with a Purpose and his First Week – Psychiatric Assistance Dog

As you may be aware in the recent months a campaign has been launched for me to have a psychiatric assistance dog through GoFundMe.

Well on the 21st of May 2016 we finally went and got our puppy Amadeus, a standard black male poodle.

Charlotte Needs an Assistance Dog

However…

We are still fundraising as Amadeus needs lots more stuff!

  • pet gates and pens for safety
  • specific training
  • pet passport
  • neutering
  • car safety equipment
  • agility toys
  • leads and harnesses
  • psychiatric assistance dog vest and badge
  • training toys
  • food and treats
  • dog clicker
  • dog whistle
  • grooming

Our target is £2000 we have raised £825 which has paid for Amadeus himself, his starter essentials such as toys, food etc. his jabs, chip and crate.

So if you would like to donate please follow this link:

https://www.gofundme.com/PsychiatricDogFund


This is our first week together…

Here is Amadeus in the car on our way home after picking him up from the breeders.

Charlotte Farhan and Amadeus

Charlotte Farhan and Amadeus

First real cuddles with Amadeus xxx

Amadeus and his favourite cuddly toy, Blue

Amadeus and his favourite cuddly toy, Blue

Amadeus

Amadeus learning about his surroundings

 

He is not much of a barking dog but he loves to say hello…

 

Amadeus and Mohammed love their sleep…

 

Logan our Bengal cat loves puppies and has been taking his time to get closer to Amadeus, they love to play fight and roll around.

 

Our other cats Omar and Isabella are teaching him boundaries – not his biggest fans!

Omar is the alpha and Isabella the Beta in our pride/pack, obviously Mohammed and I are the Alpha pair that sit right at the top.

 

Amadeus on a two hour road trip

Amadeus on a two hour road trip

We went on a car journey and then went to visit Amadeus’s God Mother and trainer Bex Smith. Amadeus and Bex got to know one another and he loved the garden.

 

Bonding with his trainer is very important!

Mohammed (Daddy) is having some play time with our little dude.

 

Amadeus also met two other cats at his God Mothers house, Toulouse and Twigglet.

And last but not least before we went to see my two little surrogate nephews on Sunday we gave Amadeus his first bath/shower so he was all clean for his first visit.

Amadeus and Charlotte

Amadeus and Charlotte


If you would like to find out more about my disabilities, illnesses and neurodiversity then please follow this link —–> HERE

And read my survivor story —–> HERE

Also please check out Bex Smith’s (Amadeus’s trainer)

website and blog —-> HERE

 

GO FUND ME - Charlotte Farhan