My name is Rex Jose Joseph. I am here to raise funds for my startup (The DogSide).
I have a PhD in Applied Psychology and I was working as an Assistant Professor at Jain University till June this year. I'm a believer that stories are the best tools that connect people, so here's an attempt to tell mine:
I've always been an avid animal enthusiast, and courtesy of my background in psychology, I was more than convinced of the therapeutic capabilities animals (especially dogs) possessed. With these pillars of thought in mind, everything pointed towards me becoming an animal-assisted therapist, using trained therapy dogs which could be used in traditional counselling and therapy sessions to boost the positive effects of the person's emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.
However, what I lacked at the moment was a concrete plan and help to materialise this plan into something tangible. But that need was soon met, or so I thought.
A Lockdown and a Betrayal
Just before the lockdown started, a colleague of mine and her husband had proposed a business plan to me. They mentioned that someone was willing to invest in a Psychology-related business. But since the lockdown started, they told me the funds would get delayed and that it would be better if we start. As I didn't have any liquid funds, I ended up using my credit cards and took a personal loan to help start the facility.
All this was done with the promise that as soon as the lockdown is lifted all my dues would be paid off. How they got me into joining them was by telling me I could practice animal-assisted therapy which I was very passionate about. For this purpose, I got my boys, Thor and Loki, and sent them for training (which I had to borrow money for)to become therapy dogs. Once the lockdown got lifted they took my car saying they needed it for a couple of days. This happened in June. Since then despite multiple calls and all that I haven't got my money or my car. Currently, it's been registered as a complaint. And I recently found out that they sold my car without my knowledge. Now every day I am bombarded by calls from credit card companies asking me to pay them the money that my colleague and her husband used up.
Every tragedy entails a lesson to be learnt, and never giving up was mine. Despite having no funds, I began running a startup called The DogSide with the help of 2 people. This time, people I could trust.
I have conducted sessions at paediatric centres as well as manufacturing companies to alleviate the stress that this lockdown has caused. For the most part, I have been functioning out of my residence and taking online sessions in addition to conducting online workshops on Animal-Assisted therapy as well as talking extensively about the ethics and concerns while taking it up as a full-fledged profession. Animal-assisted therapy needs to have a more solid presence in India, as it already does in the west. And it is part of the team's vision to amplify its presence as much as possible, keeping in mind that therapy dogs are not just tools forget the work done, but colleagues that have their own limitations that need to be taken care of just like any other person.
Despite the overwhelmingly positive response about the sessions and workshops, we still require funds to see our vision through.
But why Animal Assisted Therapy?
Animal-assisted therapy has shown numerous life-changing effects on people undergoing various forms of psychological distress. We've been using this approach on children and adults from different settings. Trained therapy animals combined with conventional counselling and therapy do absolute wonders, keeping in mind the sessions are carried out by a trained psychologist. Research (as well as our own experience) has shown the following effects:
-Promotes the release of serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin - hormones that play a part in elevating moods.
-Reduces stress and anxiety
-Lowers blood pressure while improving cardiovascular health
-Reduces excessive dependency on medication
-Effective in treating autism when combined with therapy
Despite all the hurdles that I and the team have faced, we have not lost hope, as retaining as well as amplifying resilience and positive emotion is something that our entire team practices as well as preaches in our personal and professional lives.
We have seen the amazing effect this therapeutic approach has had on children and adults alike, and are set on growing as much as we can while strengthening the overall presence of Animal Assisted Therapy in India.
Animals + Psychological approaches + Psychologists = Nothing less than magic!; and we need India, and the rest of the world to not just know, but experience this.
To make this happen, we would require funds for:
Promotions (Getting the word out there ain't cheap)
Medical and nutritional expenses for the dogs (More expensive than people assume)
Paying consistent Salaries (Tired of eating Maggi)
Transportation for the dogs for field visits (Everything about 3 dogs in an auto looks fun, except the meter at the end of the trip)
I don't plan on letting my team (humans and dog) down. And with your financial assistance, I can assure you that we plan to make the best use of the funds to manifest our vision to the best of our abilities.
Please come forward to support my cause. Any contribution will be of immense help. Do contribute and share this campaign link with your friends and family.