There were times when I had to take tranquillisers to keep myself away from alcohol

“I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was a teenager, later it turned out that they were wrong but by then, I was on heavy psychiatric medication for years. I always thought, as soon as I’m off the drugs I would able to live a normal life. I stopped taking them in ’84, I never ended up in a psychiatric hospital and I actually had a great few years after. I began running, I cycled, I was doing martial arts, there weren’t enough hours in a day. I did a lot of voluntary work and I started walking dogs as well. But then my back got injured and I had to stop all sports. I had to look for another hobby. I loved music and I really liked the rock and roll scene in Dublin so I started to discover the pub scene. I was already in my early 30’s and I’d never drunk before, I was never allowed to, but with the pubs, alcohol slowly crept into my life. I would love to see where an I’d be now if I had been able to stop at 4-5 beers on a Friday night… But soon enough, I swapped beers for whiskey and then I swapped whiskey for vodka and the next thing I knew, I lost 20 years of my life… There were times when I had to take tranquillisers to keep myself away from alcohol. Only when I started going to AA meetings could I actually make lasting changes in my life. After losing my mother and a failed adoption from DogsTrust my sister surprised me with these two and I took up dog walking as therapy. Anyhow, one day, I was walking them on Monkstown Road and I saw this lovely lady struggling to walk her Labrador. I already knew her from the neighbourhood so I went up to her and we started to chat. She began to complain about not enjoying the walks because her dog, Holly, keeps pulling and she can’t keep up with her. I told her that I already walk my dogs every day and her house is on the way so I would be happy to take him out every now and then. Then, the very next day, I saw another lady with these two, Mat and Sam, struggling to walk so I walked up to her as well and asked if she was okay. She said she just had her hip replaced and found it very hard to walk her dogs so I got them too… I actually have nine dogs scheduled to be walked every day of the week. I don’t even get paid for this. I never wanted to. To be honest with you, I would actually pay them to let me walk the dogs because there isn’t better therapy for me than this”