My Dad, Jim, loved our Toy Poodle, Missie, and she loved him! Little did we know that after my Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and then cancer that she would be the one to help us all, when times got a little tougher.
Dad always had Missie sitting with him on the chair whenever they were together. When Mum and Dad came to visit I’m sure she thought, “Yes….brilliant….that’s me sorted for cuddles and treats for the next few days.” It was treat heaven for her! Dad seamlessly went from slipping white chocolate buttons to our daughter Nicola, when she was a toddler years before, to slipping treats to Missie at any opportunity.
When Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2004, my friend at work advised of a drug which might help. I’m forever in Rachael’s debt for that, as we were lucky to get him on a drug in the very early stages of the disease, which we believe helped to control it. To be honest, no one really knew Dad had Alzheimer’s for around 10 years and that was just the way he wanted it. As time went on though, more signs appeared and more people realised what was in fact happening to Dad. It seemed that everyone we spoke to had someone close to them who was suffering from the disease.
However, it was thanks to Alzheimer’s that when Dad was told he had cancer in December 2016, he promptly forgot about the dreaded ‘C’ word and thought that his hospital stay and appointments were to do with his bad knees!
I don’t think any of us were looking forward to Christmas 2016. Dad had been in hospital and my sister, Jayne, and I were doing alternate night shifts staying with him. His main goal was to get home and if he’d fallen out of bed and broken something, that would never have happened. So we stayed over and made sure that he got home just before Christmas. Missie stayed with my Mum quite a lot during this time and was a great comfort to her too. Missie just knows when things are not right and a nudge from her as a reminder to pet her and love her was sometimes all that was needed.
Good old M & S provided a marvellous spread on Christmas Day but Dad didn’t want to eat, he preferred to sit with Missie and feed her treats…..of course he did (!) and Missie was delighted. She was modelling the new tartan Dogrobe we were about to launch and was chuffed to bits with herself. Talking about Missie and Dad and treats (and even cosy, new Dogrobes) took the focus away from what was actually happening.
Sadly, a few days later on 1st January, Dad passed away. Missie even made it to the funeral, although sadly not the hotel afterwards. Dog-friendly was not their thing. As dog owners, how often have we heard that?
It wasn’t long after that, that I heard Fiona Corner, on BBC Reporting Scotland, talking about the Dementia Dog project. She was explaining that Alzheimer Scotland and Dogs for Good, had got together to pilot a new scheme which was providing assistance dogs for people living with dementia. What a brilliant idea! I knew that Missie had been a help to us all in her own little way and I could totally see how a properly trained dog could provide much needed help not only to the person living with dementia but also their carer.
Fiona was delighted that we wanted to get involved. I thought that Dogrobes would be a great help to the carers. Who needs the added hassle of cleaning wet, muddy shake off from a previously pristine kitchen when you’ve got a 101 other things to be getting on with? Plus, customers are always telling me how cute their dog looks in their Dogrobe and I thought that even this would provide a talking point for both the person living with Alzheimer’s and the carer.
I was lucky enough to meet the gorgeous assistance dog Webb and his owner Imke and her daughter Lucy at an event at Glamis Castle recently. It was lovely to hear first hand how Webb makes such a difference to the lives of both Imke and her husband Malcolm.
I’m delighted to say that we have just provided all the Dementia Assistance dogs with Dogrobes and we’ll continue to do so. However, Fiona mentioned that the project was sadly lacking in funding and we were coming up to the end of our charity year. Our facebook followers in 2018/19 had chosen English Springer Spaniel Welfare as the charity who would benefit from sales of Dogrobes online and at events. It made sense to choose Dementia Dogs as our charity for 2019/20.
Fiona (Dementia Dog Project), Margaret (Dogrobes), Alex (Assistance Dog)
I had always had it in my mind, that we’d eventually do a calendar to support our charity efforts. We love seeing photos of customers’ dogs in our office! I know that we’ve just received a cute photo on email or social media when I hear the,”Awwws” and “Ahhhhs” coming from the team! When Rebecca set up the photo competition, we knew our customers would come up trumps and they didn’t disappoint. We had an unenviable job on our hands trying to decide which dogs should appear. I hope you think we’ve made the right choices. 26 dogs feature across the 12 months (page a month).
Our 2020 charity calendar (approx A4, 8.25" x 12") is on sale on our website now for the very reasonable price of £7.95 (2 for £14 with code CALENDAR) including post & packing. It's a lovely, large calendar and made from a quality, heavyweight paper with a sturdy card back board. All profits (70% from every sale) are going to the Dementia Dog project.*
Fiona and Nadia (Dementia Dog Project), Margaret (Dogrobes), Alex (Assistance Dog)
Thanks to everyone who has helped in pushing this project through in record time: Rebecca, Creative Storm, our competition winners and their wonderful dogs. We all hope you'll support this amazing charity. Let's raise thousands for them! From initial feedback, it's going to be a sell out, so I wouldn't hang about...