Company in Canine Form

There’s quite a perplexing advert on TV in Australia at the moment. It features an oldish dude, who you eventually realise is in a wheelchair, and he’s talking about what a pain in the arse he is, but he’s got a “friend” from community services who keeps him company, expects nothing from him, and he admits that he just loves him. As the ad comes to an end, you realise this “friend” is a beautiful Labrador dog.

My first reaction was ‘isn’t that just lovely.’ I mean, the guide dog program is a phenomenal success and gives vision impaired people an amazing chance at a full life. And so it seems that idea has been expanded into Assistance Dogs Australia, which is designed to give people with disabilities freedom and independence.

The dogs are trained to open doors, press crossing buttons, pick up things dropped, and so on, but they also give people confidence and independence – what is more important than that?

But then I realised I had an issue with this program, because it’s such a shame that we live in a world where it’s even necessary.

I remember Mother Theresa visited the UK and after everything she’d seen in India and the rest of the world, she found the loneliness of the West far more heart breaking than anything she had ever seen in “poor” countries. People are so lonely and so alone, which she extrapolated on by telling the story of one old lady who used to write letters to herself just so she received mail. We can all only hope that we are not so alone in our dotage huh?

I do find it sad that we need this and if there were the funds, there are thousands of people who could do with canine company just to help them cope with their loneliness, but wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had the loving non-judgemental care and company they needed huh? The non-Western cultures of our world definitely have a better idea here – they take care of their own.

Yours, without the bollocks

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