Oakhurst resident Greg Smyth with his three-year-old Foxie Angie.
Oakhurst resident Greg Smyth with his three-year-old Foxie Angie. Alistair Brightman

CANINE THERAPY: How a dog saved this M'boro man's life

A REFUGE puppy with a heart of gold quite literally saved Greg Smyth's life.

The Maryborough man lives with post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting from a bad work accident, deaths he has experienced and his time as a first responder.

After years of suffering, he watched a TV program on emergency and armed services getting help from dogs.

This was the catalyst that sent him and his wife Dot to the Maryborough Animal Refuge three years ago, where they met Angie.

The couple said, even at just a couple of weeks old, the little fox terrier chose them.

 

Maryborough Animal Refuge's Angie was only weeks old when Oakhurst resident Greg Smyth decided to get a dog to help with his PTSD.
Maryborough Animal Refuge's Angie was only weeks old when Oakhurst resident Greg Smyth decided to get a dog to help with his PTSD. Alistair Brightman

The decision was unanimous and they waited the required eight weeks before bringing Angie home.

Mr Smyth said Angie was only just bigger than his hand when they brought her home.

Since then, she has gone everywhere with him.

The 68-year-old said since his work accident, he had been prone to suicidal thoughts.

Just over a year ago he "was really going through a bad time", he said.

"Angie keeps an eye on me all the time and if she thinks I'm not right or I am in bed, because that's where I go, she will come and stand on my chest and look into my eyes until I respond," Mr Smyth.

"It is like she is asking me if I am all right.

"If I don't respond she will run and find Dot.

"She makes my day - calms me down."

 

PTSD sufferer Greg Smyth keeps himself busy with gardening, fixing things and making items like garden seats out of recycled materials.
PTSD sufferer Greg Smyth keeps himself busy with gardening, fixing things and making items like garden seats out of recycled materials. Alistair Brightman

Although Mr Smyth keeps busy gardening and working on projects, he said Angie was the one who helped him come out of his depression.

"There have been a few times when it has been that close," he said.

"It has been caused by a lot of people who don't understand mental issues - it needs to be brought out into the open."

Each year, Mr Smyth donates a project he has worked on to the refuge.

"I like doing things for the refuge every year that sort of give something back to what they gave to me," he said.

 

Three year old Foxie, Angie goes everywhere with PTSD sufferer Greg Smyth.
Three year old Foxie, Angie goes everywhere with PTSD sufferer Greg Smyth. Alistair Brightman

"They gave me so so much - I will never be able to repay them.

"People should visit the refuge - they might just find their saviour."

If this story has raised issues for you, call LifeLine on 13 11 14.



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