My name is Norma Collingwood and I am one of the Addiction Counsellors at McDougall House. I started working at McDougall House 25 years ago. There have been a lot of changes since I started here, with Full and part time staff, Board members, Executive Directors, new buildings, moving buildings, adjusting my shift’s, consistently changing the programming etc. Thank goodness my co-worker Glenda has been with me for 20 of those years, which has made it much easier.
This month, there are two National days we would like to recognize, National Cat Day on the August 8th and International Dog Day on the August 26. The focus of this month’s newsletter will be on how pets can enhance a woman’s life and her recovery. I know my pets have made my life easier and more fulfilled. They have enriched my life and helped to keep me sane.
Having a dog was something I wanted most of my life. When my sister and I were younger my parents wouldn’t let us have pets of any kind. They were considered “too much work’ (they knew who would have to do most of the care taking) and “way too expensive,” (we were poor). They were “too messy, too noisy, too dirty, too somethingy” and they would die. Consequently, we had no pets. One of our neighbours had an old cocker spaniel and I sat in their yard to pet that dog for hours, or at least for as long as she would let me. I appreciated any time I could spend with an animal.
In high school I got my first pet, it was a was a garter snake that I named “Ben.” (I know, not very original). I thought smaller would be better. My arguments were that he could be contained, and I would look after him. Frequently, he would hide all over the house (not very well contained) and my mother would panic. When he went into hibernation, my mom (there is a theme here) thought he had died and tried to save me from the pain of his death by flushing him down the toilet.
My first cat was named Thumper (I’m a Disney fan what can I say) and we had 18 great years together. She was there for me through good times and bad. Her purring would soothe my soul.
Today I have a 4-year-old pure bred boxer named Tinkerbelle (Disney again, what can I say) and Cali, a 16-year-old rescue calico cat (I didn’t name her obviously). Anyone who has owned a boxer knows they are high energy and goofy. She makes me smile every day when I return home from work. She is so happy to see me and races around and turns herself inside out for my attention, which I freely give her. Her antics make me laugh daily.
If you have any stories to tell about your animals, we would love to hear from you. And if you know of a former resident that would like to receive our newsletter, please have them get in touch with us by email.