MEA Fundraising: ‘My dogs are what have held me together and kept me sane over these past years.’ | 06 December 2017

December 6, 2017


By Helen Hyland, Fundraising Manager, ME Association.

On Sunday, I’ll be doing my first personal fundraiser for the ME Association. Fundraising is a very personal thing, and not something that anyone takes on lightly.

My family and friends all know how passionately I feel about supporting the ME Association. But it’s one thing to have passion and quite another to have the courage and confidence to stand up in public and be counted.

I’m not sure I would even have considered it, even now, if I hadn’t got my dog, Neo, keeping me company. My dogs are what have held me together and kept me sane over these past years.

Neo (on the left) came to us as a daft puppy and has slowly wheedled his way into our hearts.

He’s a huge scaredy dog – his default position on his early walks was to plonk his bottom firmly to the floor whenever he saw anything remotely frightening – small children, puddles, the door to our local shop, runners….

Thankfully, when he joined our family, we still had Bud (pictured on the right).

Bud was there for Neo’s first journey to our home and afterwards he gently showed Neo the ropes and kept him right.  Friends still refer to Bud as Neo’s security blanket.

Bud was with us a long time. He was there when M.E. first hit our family. Overnight, walks became slower and strained. Bud saw the pain etched on our faces. He heard the endless ‘discussions’ about what was the right, or wrong, thing to do (what remedies were safe, what the doctors could or should be doing, what to do about finances, what to do about work, how to balance the children’s needs with the illness….).

Bud was alone in the house when my husband, Alan, decided it was all too much and took his own life – and Bud was found guarding the door as we arrived home. It was Bud that then endured the hours of walks and talks afterwards as we struggled to get our heads straight.

Bud was first to welcome all friends and family through the door, coming to help and support us. And it was Bud’s health that suffered – so much so that the vet had to treat him for a heart condition and for stress – as he stuck by us and kept a close eye on us all; guarding and protecting us from as much danger as was possible.

And later, much later, it was Bud that took a close, gentle and paternal interest in Neo’s upbringing when he joined our family. This summer, Bud died. It wasn’t unexpected – he was an old dog – but it is taking a while for us all to adjust. Neo included.

So, Neo is now SDA (Senior Dog in Attendance) of the ME Association’s fundraising office. He seems to be coping with the loss well, but we’re doing all we can to distract him.

We felt the timing was right to train him up for his first public appearance for the ME Association, at the Glasgow Santa Dash on Sunday 10th December.

Together, we’ll be braving the streets of Glasgow, in the hope that other families and other family pets, won’t have to go through what we went through because of M.E.

Please give any pennies you can spare in support of Neo’s fundraising for the ME Association. And, if you happen to live in Glasgow, or are in the city on the day, please come along and give us both some moral support. We'd love to meet you.

Thank you.

2 thoughts on “MEA Fundraising: ‘My dogs are what have held me together and kept me sane over these past years.’ | 06 December 2017”

  1. Your story is so very moving Helen and you have tremendous courage and humility to carry on supporting M.E. I have spoken to a couple of men who have M.E. and find it very difficult to talk about their illness.
    Thank you for all your hard work and raising money for M.E.
    I wish I was nearer to come and cheer you on. Have lots of fun with Neo, who sounds very like our old dog Ben, who wouldn’t cross a foot wide stream on Dartmoor and he was a collie!

    1. Thank you Mary for your support – both here and with your own fundraising. An old proverb says “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” so Helen says it was important for her to do this personal fundraiser – so that she could better understand the pressures and challenges that all our wonderful MEA fundraisers face.

      She has always said that we have marvellous fundraisers, but now her admiration for you all has gone up hugely as she better appreciates the sacrifice, had work, courage and self belief that is needed to put yourself forward like this. She also says that her collie, Neo, isn’t keen on getting his feet wet either, but thankfully the forecast for Glasgow at the weekend is dry!

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