Paws For Thought: Sarah, George and Winslow
As part of a new campaign this year, we’re sharing stories of how adopting a pet has improved people’s wellbeing. Sarah and George adopted their dog, Winslow, an American bulldog, from us and, as well as giving him a second chance, it’s also given them both a new lease of life. Here, Sarah tells us how he has settled in.
Tell us about how you came to adopt Winslow
George and I had dreamt of adopting a dog together from the very start of our relationship. We had done dogsitting for friends who had bulldogs before, so we knew what loyal and loving companions they can be. It saddened us that they are so often misunderstood and so many end up in rehoming shelters. Our biggest challenge was finding a place to live that was suitable for us to adopt a dog, so we patiently waited until we were in a position to move into the right kind of accommodation (i.e. with a landlord that allowed pets and an enclosed garden). As soon as we were in, I began scanning local animal rescue centres for bulldogs in need. It wasn’t a quick process – dogs in rescue centres have individual needs and personalities, so we held out until we found our perfect match in Winslow. It was 100% worth the wait!
What was your first impression after adopting Winslow?
When we first got Winslow, it was exciting but we knew looking after him was a huge responsibility. There’s a natural period of adjustment when you get a new pet as you get into a new routine, which can be a little daunting, but as time passes and life picks up a new rhythm, it becomes second nature and you can feel yourself and your pet relaxing. That’s where the fun really starts.
What is Winslow’s personality like?
Winslow is the sweetest boy – he’s the gentlest giant! People often take one look at him and expect him to be a ferocious beast but the truth is, he loves nothing more than playing with his doggy friends, the odd tasty doggo treat and all the snuggles in the world.
How has adopting Winslow helped your mental wellbeing?
Although we didn’t adopt Winslow for the purpose of improving our mental wellbeing, it has without doubt had a significant positive impact. In the natural lows of life, simply looking into Winslow’s eyes lights us up. He is a beacon of joy, always. His cuddles are the best medicine after a bad or stressful day. He motivates us to work hard as we know we are here to support and care for him. He is a beautiful reason to get out of bed in the morning - regardless of how tired we feel!
Whether it’s sun, rain, wind, snow or hail, we get out in the fresh air every day, which is as good for us physically and mentally as it is for him. We watch the seasons change on our walks and have a new appreciation for how spectacular nature is. Some mornings, hearing the birds sing and seeing as the sun rises is simply breath taking and makes you happy to be alive. Walks are often a social event for all of us. Winslow has so many doggy friends he loves to play with and it has resulted in us getting to know our neighbours and people in the local community that we otherwise may not have met.
How do you think you’d be feeling and coping with life if you didn’t have Winslow?
As both George and I work from home, I honestly don’t think I’d leave the house most days if it wasn’t for Winslow. I’ve battled with anxiety and depression since I was a teenager.
When I think back to life before Winslow, I didn’t realise anything was missing but now I don’t know how we’d do without him. Life wouldn’t be as joyful if Winslow wasn’t in it. We’d potentially be a lot lazier and rounder if it wasn’t for our daily walks! I’d have struggled far more during the pandemic if Winslow wasn’t around. He makes us feel loved, even in the loneliest, saddest moments of life.
What would you say to other people who are struggling with mental health/wellbeing and are perhaps considering getting a pet?
If you have the time and space to accommodate having a pet in your life – do it! You’ll wonder how you ever managed without them.
Would you like to give an animal a second chance at a happy life? Find out which animals are looking for new homes here.