You might remember that last year, we were lucky enough to be ‘Highly Commended‘ by Purina as part of their #WeAreBetterWithPets prize. The process involved a number of interviews and being flown to Barcelona (tough job, but someone had to do it!) to pitch alongside four other charities/social enterprises, all of whom I remain in awe of. We were, of course, asked to report back to Purina on our work with the prize funds and to celebrate #SocialEnterpriseDay2019, I would like to share that report with you.
There’s no doubt that Canine Perspective CIC is better with pets and over the last year, since reaching the final of the #WeAreBetterWithPets prize, we have found that we’re also better with Purina.
Being awarded £11,500 as ‘highly commended’ finalists has enabled us to work directly with survivors of rape and sexual violence through our Canine Hope workshops. We have also expanded the work we do in building resilience through the wisdom of dogs by making Canine Hope accessible to survivors who can’t join in-person workshops and by launching our first children’s book; the profits from which will fund more Canine Hope workshops.
We have delivered eight, fully funded, Canine Hope workshops. These full-day sessions have been delivered in partnership with charities and social enterprises working with survivors and included canine co-tutors, rescue dogs. We have reached 72 survivors through these sessions, both men and women, included staff and volunteers in the sessions and all of the dogs who worked with us have been successfully rehomed through their respective rescue centres.
The groups are deliberately kept small with between 6-10 people in each workshop. This is so that the dog isn’t overwhelmed by people and throughout the day, everyone who chooses to, can be involved in interacting with and training the dog. However, in one session, our canine co-tutor staged a ‘sit-in’ on the lap of one of the group members and went on strike for an hour or so. We all learnt that the need for taking breaks, sleep and respecting ourselves enough to choose self-care even when we’re supposed to be working is sometimes the only way forward!
In our feedback forms, we ask for three words to describe the session and for the group members to share any other comments if they’re comfortable doing so. These were the most commonly used words to describe the Canine Hope in the eight sessions:
- Excellent Fun
One staff member also called the session ‘extraordinary’ and ‘imperative’.
And these are some of the reflective comments from group members:
- I have learnt to be confident and persistent and I now understand the thought processes which affect my daily life. This will help me communicate better with my son and my dog.
- I have learnt to appreciate that we’re all different and I don’t need to change myself or try and change others.
- I don’t feel that all humans are horrible any more, the dog has learnt to trust people again and so can I.
- This has been engaging and easy to follow, so I have things I can start doing now to make life better, not just when things go wrong.
- I can now imagine caring for myself properly, I don’t learn easily but I did today, thanks to Mabel (the canine co-tutor).
- I am going to start re-training my brain; I gained a lot from today.
- I can now forgive myself.
I received a message from one of the group members after a workshop which sums up everything we aim to achieve through Canine Hope. I am pleased to report that Eve has been successfully rehomed (thanks to Hilbrae Rescue) and is now living the dream with her forever family!
Ensuring the Canine Perspective CIC is a sustainable social enterprise is something that has been supported through the #WeAreBetterWithPets prize and we have been able to bring to life our lessons about resilience from rescue dogs in the form of a new book. This social enterprise started because of a book about the relationship between a teenage survivor and her rescue dog so it has been transformative for us to be able to bring new, accessible ways of developing a growth mindset into the world.
Our canine mascot, an illustrated rescue dog called Luna, is at the heart of sharing the wisdom of rescue dogs in a way that can positively impact the lives of humans. Working with our illustrator, Fiona Mackay, we have been able to launch our first children’s book, Luna’s Woodland Adventure. This book is designed to create positive neural pathways through a repeated mantra, embedded in the story of Luna and her woodland friends. Our core beliefs are formed before the age of six and in our work with survivors; we see the detrimental effect that early life experiences can have. This book is our first step in offering a positive message to young people. Following the ethos of embracing natural behaviour in dogs, which is the cornerstone of the Canine Hope workshop, we have taken that notion further and incorporated the natural behaviour of woodland animals in the story. It is only through asking for help that Luna can find her way home, highlighting the fact that we’re all different and we’re all uniquely placed to offer something of value to the world. This book is now on general release and the profits will go to fund Canine Hope workshops. We are also gifting copies of the book to charities, social enterprises and professionals working with children aged five/six who have experienced sexual violence.
Being part of Purina’s #WeAreBetterWithPets prize has been an incredible catalyst for growth and the financial support, while vital to our development, has only been one element of that. The ongoing support, interest in what we’re doing and practical advice which has super-charged our business development has been considerable. The impact for survivors will grow incrementally as a result and the impact we can have on people who read our books, attend our workshops and engage with #TeamLuna is infinite; after all, we’re all surviving something.