I’ve been scrambling through my browser history on various devices to try to find an article I stumbled across last week with the tale of a farmer. It was in some press article and didn’t seem apocryphal as the man was named as was the location. I can’t find it though and wonder whether it was a dream, but here’s the gist.
This male farm-hand was suffering from chronic depression whilst working on the land and it was only when he was switched to dairy duties: tending the cows and milking them (please forgive my ignorance as milk to me comes from Tesco’s), that his depression abated.
Weird isn’t it?
Cows, a herd of them, made this man recover.
Yet it’s not weird at all when you start thinking logically.
Yesterday, I faced a 1st world dilemma and, as with all problems I encounter, I asked my virtual friends on Facebook for some opinions.
A year has now elapsed since I took up gym membership at Bannatyne’s in Lowestoft and yesterday I was called and asked about renewing.
The gym, you see, was a part of my recovery from mental illness.
Most days, I’d go and swim or mess around on the weight machines, after being a pissed up car crash of a man for the previous three years. It helped. It made me feel physically and emotionally better. Doing exercise obviously does that and after a lifetime of constant company in classrooms from children I taught, it was sociable too. People talk with you in the steam room, the sauna, the changing rooms, the café, and I roundly enjoyed it.
Here’s the but.
In September, on a little bit of one of my whims, I decided to become a pet owner and adopt a rescue dog, Cassie.
Now she has arguably done more for my mental and physical health than sobriety and the gym.
She’s a 4 year old smooth-coated border collie (get me with the lingo!) and herding sheep and long walks is lodged in her genetic make-up or subconscious. There’s no sheep round this part of Norfolk, but there’s plenty of wide open spaces to walk daily.
From chafed, knackered legs in the early walks, I now cover 3 to 6 miles daily with her and like that farm-hand, with the cows, Cassie has made me normal again.
I can’t lie in bed like I used to, because I have a lovely dog downstairs to tend to.
I can’t say “I can’t be arsed walking today” because she expects and demands them. I can’t claim there is no suitable terrain, because Norfolk is a walking paradise.
It’s flat, but every day, even on the same route, I see nature changing: snowdrops poking above ground, pink footed geese feasting on fields of turnips, squirrels leaping in different parts of the wood.
So, I’ve made up my mind about renewing.
I prefer walking Cassie every day to lifting and swimming.
And when I’m out and about now, I sometimes think back to what has happened and I’m now able to smile and think, without that experience, without the four years of depression, anxiety and stress, I wouldn’t have found what I have now become:
I am a permanently self-employed writer with a lead in my hand and a smile on my face.
Having a dog and working from home is fucking wonderful.
I’d recommend both.