Charity hosts peer support dog walks for animal lovers with mental health conditions


by Stephanie Wan (@Sinyingwan1)

SOUTHAMPTON-based charity, Capable Creatures, are hosting monthly walks every fourth Tuesday of each month on the Common.

The walks take place at Hawthorne Wildlife Café on the Common.
The walks take place at Hawthorne Wildlife Café on the Common.

Founder Lise Marron sets up the walks to bring together dog owners and dog lovers with mental health disabilities.

After getting her dog Daithi back in 2010, she trained him to be her ‘unofficial’ assistance dog.

Daithi has given Lise the confidence to interact with people, and she wants to share her experience with others and provide them with support.

Founder of Capable Creatures, Lise Marron with her dog Daithi.
Founder of Capable Creatures Lise Marron, with her dog Daithi.

Lise Marron says: “I believe a lot more can be done for the community. For a start, we need to have better NHS services and I feel that a lot of it has been left to the community groups.”

“This seems so unfair because of the fact the services aren’t up to the same sort of standard as you would expect for a physical health condition.”

The charity Mind has found that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.

Although the overall number of people with mental health conditions has not changed considerably in recent years, concerns over money and jobs are making it harder for people to manage.

Different types of treatments are there to help people suffering from these problems, one being Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).

Dog owners and dog lovers meet up and socialise each month.
Dog owners and dog lovers meet up and socialise each month.

AAT can help improve a patient’s social, mental, cognitive and physical functioning with the assistance of trained animals.

Angela Stockdale, an independent animal welfare worker believes there are not a lot of animals being recognised to train people.

Angela says: “In my experience of working with animals, all I can say is you can’t train them, you can’t train them at all.”

“I think one of the saddest things is that there are a lot of animals, in particular cows and sheep who are greatly underestimated who are wanting not just a good relationship with people, but also want to help them.”

If you want to donate some money to help support people with mental health conditions then visit their website at http://capablecreatures.org/capcre/.

What can animals do that people cannot? Click on the audio to see how they help with the process of healing.