Operation Adopt-a-Dog!

One of Heart & Hands’ unsung heroes is in need of our assistance!

This is Nicole and her late, beloved emotional support dog, Charlie, who passed away on July 18, 2022.

Twice a week, well before our clinic hours, Nicole washes and folds countless loads of laundry, sweeps and mops our floors, keeps our bathroom spic and span, waters our plants and sanitizes anything within reach.

Her important contribution to our clinic operations may be unseen, but it is an INVALUABLE part of pandemic practicing and takes a huge load off our shoulders so we can focus our energy on client care.

Nicole is also in recovery and will be 10 years sober this November. The emotional regulation Charlie provided her has enriched Nicole’s life in profound ways, gave her comfort, taught her self-love and gave her purpose as well as eventually finding her way to us. Nicole is an important part of our Heart & Hands family and we are equally devastated by her loss.

For the past month, Nicole has been on the complicated hunt for a new friend. Aside from the difficult task of finding the right match between two lifeforms with trauma in their respective pasts, the adoption fees for many local rescues range between $700 to $2400, making cost is a major barrier for her.

So, it’s time to poke folks, raise some cash and help Nicole find a new forever friend!!
You can also read Nicole + Charlie’s full story below.

Friday Oct 7 & 14, 10:00am – 1:00pm
50% of Community Acupuncture revenues will go towards adoption fees!
These hours will be open to RETURNING clients only!

If you are unable to join us, but want to support Nicole’s quest to adopt a dog,
from October 1st – 15th, we are also accepting funds by e-transfer to heartandhands.acu@gmail.com
**Please include “Operation Adopt-a-Dog” in the message**

Nicole + Charlie’s story

I got Charlie 9.5 years ago.

I decided to get a dog to help manage my depression and anxiety. I wanted something beautiful to wake up to I’m the morning and I found that in Charlie…her little tail would wiggle with excitement to start a new day. I would wake up and feel like I could do anything!

As an emotional support animal, I would co-regulate with Charlie. If I was anxious, I would put my energy into her and make her feel more comfortable. This would ease my anxiety and make me feel like I was doing something right in life. Taking her outside regularly got me outside regularly. Charlie made me feel safe being outside with my social anxiety. I have a pouch that she sits in. I felt like I could go anywhere and do anything with her by my side.

Charlie made me feel safe and loved. I could cuddle with her until my anxiety passed. I could talk to her about anything. I could go anywhere and feel much safer. That being said I would love to help a stray dog because at the age of 15 I was a stray human. I lived in the streets of Victoria. My addiction became the only thing that mattered. I would get food from panhandling and then from prostitution. I sold my soul for the next hit of cocaine or heroin. Later in life on anything I could get my hands on.

My last use was November 15th 2012. While drinking my last bottle of alcohol I realized all I was doing was drinking and passing out and drinking again. There was no other way I could find to ease the pain at the time. I would wake up in the middle of the night and drink from my post-traumatic dreams I had. I did not know how to deal with trauma my past. The anxiety I would wake up with would make me shake and totally breakdown before fully opening my eyes.

I will be 10 years clean and sober this November. Having Charlie gave me great reason not to use. If I were to use, her needs would not be able to be cared for properly and I could never do that to her. It was extra reason to stay clean and sober.

Finding Heart & Hands was a true blessing. I live only a few blocks away and being there makes me feel a part of the community. I go weekly to help me feel safe and grounded. The feeling of getting my breath back is truly the most beautiful feeling in the world. I am able to go and talk with Christina or other staff about what I’m feeling inside. I feel that someone not only cares but can help ease the pain. It helps because I hold myself so tight from post traumatic syndrome disorder and anxiety, which takes a toll on my entire body. I leave the clinic feeling able to breathe easy. I feel like myself again. I feel like I am able to handle whatever will come up in life.

Cleaning and doing laundry for Heart & Hands gives me great pleasure. I feel useful and helpful. I feel like I am doing something good for my community and for the people I look up to there. I am able to do this job because it is not too many hours working. I get up at 5:00 am and am there by 6:00 am. I leave there feeling good about myself.

Charlie was 11 years old when she passed away. She started having a seizures approx 3 weeks before, which were initially short-lived. But gradually, Charlie’s seizures kept happening and I had no choice but to put her down at the emergency vet clinic. We were treated horribly and it was one the worst days of my life. Just before they put her down I told her that I would continue watching her from here a and she would be with me forever. I freakin’ miss the hell out of her!

I have been in contact with Black Dog Rescue as well as searching on Kijiji, Pet Finder, Small Dog Rescue BC, Furever Free Dog Rescue, the local pound and the SPCA. Finding a new friend is very difficult and cost prohibitive. Adoption fees range from $700 to $2400, which is not possible when living on disability. Also that there are all sorts of different rescue dogs – ones that are strays from Mexico, others that would used for meat from the middle East. I’m worried about a dog’s previous history and how that would mix with my own trauma and that I do not have the capacity to provide a traumatized dog the emotional support it needs, when I struggle to do it for myself.

If you have any suggestions or leads for small dog rescues, please pass it onto us, heartandhands.acu@gmail.com!

My wish is to get my regular routine back. Without Charlie, going into the outside world is very overwhelming to me. Having a dog gives me reason to leave and get the fresh air we both need. I go to the grass and play, laugh and smile. And receiving unconditional love from her helps me feel less guilty about my past.

I feel sooooo lost without my best friend and it’s a devastated feeling not being able to make a new friend because of financial means…I have all this love and nowhere to put it.

For everyone who will be booking in for acu-naps for Operation Adopt-a-Dog, thank you for helping me with the costs of finding my new forever friend!

~Nicole M.

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