Facing a transition in family life, Trish Hahn found that two rescue dogs made a huge difference


* not the actual dogs referenced!

Our family unit consists of three adults, two children and two furry goofballs aka Pepito and Lola our Spanish rescue dogs.

When we moved from Hertfordshire to Essex in 2014 the plan was always to get a rescue dog for our son to help ease his transition into a new Primary School with a new set of friends and a new home church. Not only did we as a family move to a new home church but my husband was the new Minister. This came with its own set of issues but I really felt for my son as he did struggle with the new changes in our family and church life.

Support for a disabled child

Eventually once we were settled, we did find a rescue centre in Essex which brought Spanish dogs to the UK and after much discussion, prayer and checking our finances were in place we then reached out to the rescue centre to enquire if they had any dogs which would be suited to a home with a disabled child who was a wheelchair user.

I had spent a lot of time in prayer asking God to bring us the right dog with the right temperament and one which could bond well with all of us as having a dog was going to be a huge commitment.

Enter Pepito – Spanish for Joseph and Hebrew for ’He will enlarge’, ’God Adds’ or ’God would multiply’. Pip or Mr P we call him is half Jack Russell and half Staffy. He is tan colour with four white socks and he is a very affectionate and loving little man. He knows when my son is feeling low and will cuddle up with him on his bed, a proper Velcro dog.

Pepito is great with both our eldest daughter and our youngest daughter. He loves to sit on our eldest daughters lap and cuddle up to her and quite often jumps into the car and sits on her lap whilst I try to manoeuvre her wheelchair out of the car.

Our youngest daughter loves the fact that Pepito will jump onto the sofa with her for a cuddle and she describes him as soft, fuzzy and cute.

He is an all-round family dog, with a lovely gentle nature and he loves to go to each one of us for affection and especially loves to snuggle up to my husband on the sofa at night when everyone else is in bed.

Lola is our second rescue dog; her name means sorrows – one of the titles of the Virgin Mary. Lola is a cross breed chihuahua with large brown eyes and big ears. She is also tan coloured, feisty in nature, very quick on her feet, loves a sneaky snack and has earned the nickname The Velociraptor by our local vet as she can be quite snappy when having her nails clipped. She has taken a long time to warm up to the rest of the family as she is my dog and has bonded with me but now, she will happily sleep on my son’s bed during the day and allow him to cuddle her.

Support for us all at a vulnerable time

For us as a family, both dogs came at times in our lives when we were all feeling vulnerable and trying to find our feet in new roles. Both dogs have given myself and my husband the opportunity to teach our children about gentleness, discipline, love and compassion. They have learnt that a dog needs constant daily attention, be it walking, feeding, doing poo picks or visits to the vets.

I believe that God has used our dogs to teach me and my husband more about love and compassion for other people. Pip loves to go to church and is a people person dog, he loves the attention as well as the odd biscuit. The Thursday morning drop in brings in people who don’t go to Sunday church and sometimes the highlight of that time for them can be that they talk to Pip and spend time with him especially if they are feeling vulnerable or lonely, which in today’s climate isn’t difficult to feel. Our church also hosts a bereavement group on a Thursday morning and the adults certainly love to have a chat with Pip and pass him a sneaky biscuit or two.

I spend more time talking to more people when I am out on walks with the dogs and have had some great conversations over the past four years since Pip and Lola came into our hearts and lives. You can learn a lot from a brief conversation with someone if you know how to stop talking and just listen.

Having a pet can be expensive, can be time consuming but the benefits for your ongoing mental health cannot always be measured in financial terms.

I feel that as a family unit God has truly blessed us with the addition of our two furry companions. I believe that God can teach all of us about His love through our beloved pets.