Cork woman: Rescue dog changed my life as I struggled with post-natal depression

In our weekly column, My Pet and Me, NICOLA DEPUIS catches up with Sinead Morrissey, who has a trio of different pets, who came into her life at different times.
Cork woman: Rescue dog changed my life as I struggled with post-natal depression

Sinead Morrissey with her rescue dog, Kochana.

“SHE saved me, I suppose. If not for Kochana, I’d probably never leave the house. She forces me out, out into the countryside, out into nature, and I spend a lot of time outdoors because of her.”

Sinead Morrissey is telling me about her five-year-old rescue dog, Kochana, from HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team), a greyhound who changed her life when the ravages of post-natal depression (PND) had begun to take over.

“I would normally be an outdoor person, but with PND I just didn’t want to leave the house for a long time. But, with Kochana, I had to get out. She needs her walks. I just open the boot, she jumps in happily, and we go off to the beach or to the woods.”

Sinead and Kochana are often joined on their walks by Sinead’s husband John, daughter Clodagh (aged 15), sons James (aged 4) and Dara (aged 2), as well as Kochana’s little sidekick Pebbles (aged 15), who spends most of his ‘walkies’ time cosying up comfortably on Dara’s lap in his buggy.

Pebbles, the family's second puppy.
Pebbles, the family's second puppy.

“He feels safe there and he loves watching everything go by. In the evening, Pebbles sits on my husband John’s lap. He loves John. Lately he’s been staying with him in the office by day as well. He barks until John puts a cushion down on the floor for him. He practically talks to him,” said Sinead, who features in My Pet and Me series.

Sinead saw a photo of Pebbles on Done Deal seven years ago and was shocked by his condition.

“He looked very, very frightened in the picture. He was in an awful state. I had to buy him. We brought him straight to the vet and the vet put in a report to the CSPCA because of the condition he was in,” Sinead says.

Rescue cat Leo.
Rescue cat Leo.

“He had worms, fleas, ear mites. He had to have a load of teeth taken out. I believe he was stolen to breed, but he was unsuccessful, so they wanted to sell him off.”

Now, thanks to the TLC provided by Sinead and her family, Pebbles is thriving.

“He’s flying now, fine and healthy,” she says.

“But he’s still very scared of his own shadow.”

Out for a family stroll.
Out for a family stroll.

Sinead’s happiest memory of her time with the dogs is travelling around with them in their campervan.

“They loved the campervan. You couldn’t open the door of it without them jumping in - well, Pebbles had to be lifted in, he was tiny,” says Sinead.

“Kochana would jump in, and she wouldn’t get out for fear you’d leave her. She always knew we were going places for a few nights, and she loved those new places. And she’d be up next to you watching the world go by as you’re driving along happily.”

Back at home, their rescue cat Leo (aged 14) would be holding the fort.

“Leo came into my life by chance,” says Sinead.

“A friend didn’t want him anymore so I told her to get him neutered and I would take him on. He’s a dote, he’s very loving. He just loves his hugs.”

While Leo and Pebbles were chance additions to the home, Sinead admits that she had always wanted a greyhound.

“I always loved them. But I was in the army for 21 years and I knew it would be unfair to have a large dog because I was gone foreign a lot. So, I had to wait until I retired,” says Sinead.

“I fostered Kochana first, but I just couldn’t give her up. I fell in love with her. She’s just so placid, so gentle.

“She walks next to me, next to the buggy and she’s my princess. She’s just so solid, you know. I have two boys under four, and there are no worries with her.”

The Morrissey family.
The Morrissey family.

Sinead grew up with dogs as pets, but there was one, in particular, who’s never left her thoughts.

“I’ll always remember her running along the line with me as I trained to get into the army,” says Sinead.

“Tara was a Sheepdog, and she was just an old soul. She was beautiful. She came everywhere with me. She was one of those dogs who never needed a lead. She just came everywhere by my side. She’d sit outside the shop and wait for me, and she’d sit outside my friend’s house and wait for me. Back then, dogs weren’t stolen, and leads weren’t the law.”

Unfortunately, Tara died from womb cancer and Sinead was heartbroken.

In her memory, she has since called her house in Doneraile after Tara, and she has a photo of her on proud display.

“I wouldn’t be without my animals,” says Sinead. “I just couldn’t imagine my home without them, without their little quirks and habits. I really enjoy beach walks because of them, because I’m watching them and how happy they are. They’ve taught me to enjoy the small things in life.”

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