I’ve been a fan of dogs basically since I was born. Ted, the handsome furball on the right, was my parents’ first baby – I came along a little later. I guess they decided they’d rather have a second dog than a second child, because for a while, this was their little menagerie. (Eventually they added a second kid too.)
Ted and Tiffany were purebred show dogs, which meant their coats grew down to the floor. This photo is from off-season. I was raised with the pronunciation sheed-zoo, as per the American Kennel Club. I don’t know when people saying shit zoo, but I’d like to officially campaign for a rebrand.My love of dogs is why I’m especially excited for our latest podcast guest, author Kate Leaver. Kate is a journalist and speaker from Australia, and is also the author of two books. I’m been a fan of Kate Leaver since I reviewed her first book, The Friendship Cure. In it, she examines how friendship can help to alleviate the epidemic of loneliness, which competes with mental illness and sedentary lifestyles to be the worst health crisis of our time (pandemics aside). Friendship has powerful health benefits, as many scientific studies show.
Good Dog is an extension of that idea, exploring how our furry friends enrich our lives while providing numerous health benefits that researchers are only beginning to uncover. Along with the 11 stories of especially good dogs – including her own shih tzu, Bertie – Leaver explores research into the impact of dogs on human health. You can read my full review here. James also happens to be a fan of dogs.
James lives with Bonnie, an Irish wolfhound/dalmation cross. Bonnie joined James for our interview with Kate. The one downside of podcasts is their lack of visual component, so James snapped this shot of Bonnie nudging her way into the audio action.
This shot allows you to better appreciate Bonnie’s spotiness. James, Kate and I probably could have talked about dogs for, conservatively speaking, 17 hours.
But we had so much more to talk about! Kate lives with bipolar disorder and her experiences with depression, and Bert’s intuitive ability to comfort her during difficult times, inspired her to research other good dogs.
She also speaks about the challenges her health has presented in her career. “I always found being in an office difficult, because you can’t really schedule in time to deal with your mood or your energy levels.” This led her to try freelancing.
“I wanted to give myself the opportunity to take care of my mental health,” she says. Freelancing means being able to give herself more days when she needs them, work to a schedule that works for her, and go outside for a walk in the middle of the day.
Kate’s coped with chronic illness far longer than I have, so I asked her how she manages to have such a successful career. I was thankful to hear her say she doesn’t know how she manages it. She just keeps going as best she can, which is sometimes not very well at all.
This was a huge relief , because after four years I certainly haven’t figured out any way of managing my illness either.
You can listen to episode 8 of James and Ashley Stay at Home here, and find Kate’s book online and in bookshops across Australia, as well as in the US and UK in early 2021.