Canine Perspective CIC
I 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.
Canine Hope is our signature programme dedicated to working with survivors of rape and sexual violence, with rescue dogs as our canine co-tutors. It is the reason Canine Perspective CIC exists.
We bring a whole new meaning to innovative resilience training, thanks to our canine co-tutors, and while we’re all about the fun factor, we never forget that you need a session that will offer tangible change.
Every behaviour that a dog is displaying is linked to a feeling. That feeling is linked to a need within them. When we understand the need, meet the need and enable communication with our dog, we can deal with the true cause of a behaviour, not just ‘train’ around the symptom.
Canine Perspective CIC was ‘highly commended’ as part of Purina’s Better With Pets Prize.
“Canine Hope is a programme designed for survivors of sexual violence as well as dogs that have been rescued. Through the stories of the dogs, this organisation explores the physiology of trauma, recovery and resilience for the benefit of both the human and dog. It is the magic of looking through the eyes of a dog, being able to explore how dogs who have not been treated well yet can still learn to trust again, which gives hope to survivors. It is an incredible example of how the power of the pet–human bond supports and creates hope for the most vulnerable in our society. That is why Canine Hope were a ‘highly commended’ finalist and awarded 15,000 CHF to continue their life-changing work.”
(Calum Macrae, Regional Managing Director for Nestlé Purina Pet Care)