Go Fetch Wellness!
Jeff Fink and his psychiatric assistance dog, Earl, talk with Marcie and Lovey about the inspiring animal-assisted therapy work they are doing to support people who are living with mental illness through their organization, Go Fetch Wellness. Jeff talks candidly about his own debilitating battle with depression and anxiety and how his relationship with Earl, a Golden-Retriever, changed his life forever. Jeff’s passion for working with Earl to help others who are struggling with mental illness to experience the joy and lucidity of the human-animal bond is contagious!
My personal journey down a lonely and difficult path began almost a decade and a half ago. During that period I had episodes of anxiety and depression that were overwhelming. Numerous failed attempts to gain control of my life led me to search anywhere I could find for even a single tool to help me achieve stability. Traditional therapy, medications, and the constant barrage of differing expert and not-so-expert opinions all added to my confusion and daily turmoil.
Nothing seemed effective enough to stabilize my inner world, and I understood my salvation would have to come from something outside of myself. I had no confidence that I would find that "something," or really any purpose in life other than getting through each day.
Then one day I picked up my 8 week old golden retriever. His instantaneous affection, unconditional love, acceptance, and even his snarls (which are his way of smiling), grounded me in a way I had never experienced before. I was blessed with a new-found feeling of independence and a sense of responsibility and purpose.
With much careful and patient training, my new dog, Earl, became my own service animal, and I took him everywhere with me including, grocery stores, restaurants, camping, hiking, the movies, airplanes, concerts, and more. We were, and are, inseparable. Earl brought smiles to just about everyone who came into contact with him, stimulated conversations for me with strangers, and helped ease the chronic anxiety that had been part of my daily existence for as long as I could remember. Earl helped reconnect me with the world and, in turn, the world with me.