We decided to get a new puppy. Some of you are gasping with horror and some with glee. We lost our faithful dog Bailey last year, and it was time.
So we went to a place in Southeast Massachusetts and met the most fantastic woman with puppies. And the puppies looked fantastic. One of them called out to us, and we fell in love. He would be ready to join our household in just a few weeks.
When we came from England, we brought old, well-trained dogs with us. Now we were going to be wiping up pee and picking up poop and training this wee creature to do those things outside. But we were all in.
Will, our other dog, was a bit of a question. Would he accept a puppy? We had visions of him picking up the puppy in his massive mouth and carrying him around. That’s what golden retrievers do. Retrieve things.
In a strange way, the weeks of anticipation of this puppy made all of us feel healthier. Even the thought of something can make you healthier, and I don’t think it’s merely the power of positive thinking. These good things in our heads can make us physiologically healthier.
“No health without mental health.” This rallying cry of many medical and behavioral health professionals is becoming something of an ambition for our organization. In the absence of a sense of well-being and connection and responsibility and hope and possibility, the strange bedfellows of nervousness and excitement about what is to come contribute to improving our mental health. We can be incredibly physically fit, but people find true health because of emotional well-being.
At South Shore Mental Health, we do want to create a shared ambition that there is no health without mental health. If someone goes to a primary care provider or the hospital or even gets in trouble with the police, those are all places where there are opportunities to talk about no health without mental health. Our services are starting to craft an aspiration where we all embrace this idea wherever we reach into the community.
The most certain way to increase levels of mental health in our community is of course to buy everyone a golden retriever puppy. If we can’t do that, we can seek other ways to connect them to experiences that bring them hope.
Our puppy is named for Sir Matt Busby, famous for coaching my beloved Manchester United team from the late 1950s to early 1970s. In that era they were known as the “Busby Babes.” In 1958, just after qualifying for the semifinals of the European Cup, eight members of the team died in a plane crash leaving Munich. But Busby rebuilt the team and ten years later, with a team that included two players who survived the crash, they did win the European Cup. It might be a lot to put on a puppy to honor both the tragedy and the rebuilding, but he’ll grow into it.
That’s what hope does.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s my turn for pee duty.