You know that this social enterprise started by accident, don’t you? I (Marie) didn’t have any plans to run a social enterprise. I’m grateful for the series of events that instigated Canine Perspective, but to be honest, I didn’t even know what a social enterprise was when the idea was in the early stages.
I was grumpy.
This whole adventure started because I was grumpy!
Young (and not-so-young) survivors of sexual violence often hear a narrative that they’re going to face a ‘lifelong journey of recovery’ and in some cases, that their ‘life has been ruined.’ Hearing that message has a profound effect and while nobody is saying it’s an easy road, there has to be hope, doesn’t there? There has to be a route that involves fun, laughter and learning.
How can we build resilience if we’re drowning in fear?
Taking my grumpiness and asking ‘what can I do?’ I decided to write a book for young survivors. I created a teenage character, Dani Moore, who could reach young people in an authentic way. After all, the older I get, the less likely it is that teenagers will want to listen to anything I have to say!
I had noticed that my best friend, Reggie, a mixed breed Rottweiler / GSD rescue dog faced a lot of the same judgements I did when I disclosed my survivor status. He was judged because of a label and expected to behave in a certain way. Rotties have had some bad press! I was judged because of a label and expected to behave in a certain way too. Reggie had had a tough start in life but it didn’t stop him loving the life he was living with me. I’d experienced tough times, but they didn’t stop me enjoying the life I was living with him.
The lessons from Reggie, of which there were plenty, offered the perfect parallel to Dani’s experience, so the book became ‘Reggie & Me,’ the story of Dani’s teenage years – post trauma – and her rescue dog.
The book was published and reached the final of The People’s Book Prize, so I was asked to talk about the story. As you can imagine, there was no story without the canine character! When Reggie was with me, magic happened. He could reach people in a way that I could only dream of.
I was asked about how he was trained and about how he knew what to do to create magic.
I had no idea!
I knew him, but I couldn’t answer the questions about his behaviour.
I don’t like not knowing the answers to questions. That also makes me grumpy! So, once again, I asked myself ‘what can I do?’
The answer was to learn as much as I could about dog behaviour. I’m still learning, of course, but everything I studied taught me as much about myself as it did about Reggie.
That is how Canine Perspective CIC started. I knew that we had so much to learn from dogs and when we work with them, we have access to a level of genius that is unparalleled in humans.
Would you like to join us for a day of learning from a rescue dog? Find out more here.