Russell Fleming, Content Manager, ME Association.
It was Crufts last week, and we were discussing the event on Facebook hearing your stories about how important dogs can be as a source of comfort and companionship when living with M.E.
Kate Thomson shares her inspiring story about how a love for dogs led to her slowly returning to her passion for agility training, which was rewarded with success at this international, and other, competitions.
In 2016, aged 13, I became ill with M.E. Before then, I competed in agility events with my dog, Betsy. I was also beginning to train up and compete in agility with my younger dog, Zack.
Zack has helped me through all of my bad days with M.E. and he has naturally given me deep pressure therapy when I needed it. He has laid next to me every day whilst I've rested, and let me stroke his soft ears to calm me down when I have panic attacks.
Due to my M.E., I have had to work up from doing 2 hours of school a week to now around 15. This has meant that I've had very little social time with my peers, or anybody.
But through agility and competing in the sport with my dogs, I have been able to find something I love, and used it to integrate myself back into school and being around people.
Although I find competing very tiring, I love it and the ‘buzz' it gives me when I get to run around a course with my best pal is something I'll never get tired of. The social aspect of competing has done me wonders too.
Doing agility with my dogs and friends has been a lifeline for me. It is something I enjoy a lot and it has given me a lot of happiness through dark periods in my life.
Last year, Zack and I qualified in two agility events for Crufts and we came 5th and 3rd! This was the icing on the cake, after years of being too sick to run my dogs, and too sick to enjoy it.
I was finally able to show M.E. that it might be a part of me forever, but I can still enjoy my life and do everything my peers can do. I may need a little extra help, but there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
This is Betsy and I, who I mention in my story. At the end of January 2020, we competed at the Open Junior Agility Championships, representing England. We came 2nd overall. She has also helped me lots.
I've also recently got a Cocker Spaniel puppy (now 8 months old) who I am training up in agility. She has recently been part of the new Animal Friends Pet Insurance advert ‘for the journey'.
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