Every so often if he’s having one of those days working from home, Dave Banham will look across for reassurance from his beloved greyhound Oscar.
“He parks himself at the office door and it’s just nice to download your thoughts to him and there’s no judgement,” Dave explains.
“There’s not much advice either, but he’s someone you can look at and say: ‘Geez it’s a rough day today, Oscar’.”
Around two years ago, Dave and his family adopted Oscar from the Greyhounds as Pets Southern NSW program, a regional branch of the Greyhound Racing NSW rehoming organisation.
It was a different time then for Dave, a very dark time.
“I decided that life wasn’t worth living for one reason or another and as I say to people – I was three foot and a yellow streak away from ending my life.
“I drove a car at a tree and pulled out at the last second.
“I sat there bawling my eyes out.
“You really don’t look at the impact of it until you get home and look at your kids and think I would have devastated their lives and devastated my wife.
“You get to that stage of thinking they will be better off without me because I’m so mopey and miserable at home.
“It’s not until you come out the other side you realise there is a lot more to life than what you’re going through.
“Life is about going through its inevitable ups and downs.
“It’s been a long way back but I’m getting there.”
Naturally family plays a huge role in that, as does Oscar, and a weekly walk on the very cool Goulburn mornings.
“There is nothing like having him jump on the bed and flop himself on top of you for a big cuddle of a morning.
“The Man Walk has a mental health theme to it. It’s about checking in with mates and making connections.
“At 6am in the depths of winter, sometimes Oscar goes with two coats on, and I go with four.
“It’s a great opportunity for blokes to come together and chat to each other about what’s going on, and Oscar has company with Border Collies and Pugs and loves it.
“It’s been a great opportunity for me to discreetly and without judgement or prejudice, download some thoughts to other guys who are going through similar things, or have gone through similar things.
“It’s a great opportunity for me now to check in with them as much as they check in with me.
“Oscar loves it. He gets a lot of pats and scratches, and a few have adopted him as the unofficial mascot.
“Oscar is a big part of our family.
“I often say I don’t know what I did without him.
“I can’t sing his praises enough, and a lot of that is down to Julie and Wayne White who had him before us. He was Pop Ya Bubble, and it’s good to go back and look at his races.
“He retired, became a farm dog then entered the GAP program, and we were lucky enough to find him.
“Greyhounds are now the only breed for me. We’ve been experienced dog owners, but this guy is next level.
“He just fits in.”
To find out more about Man Walk, find it on Facebook at Man Walk – Goulburn or at themanwalk.com.au.
- Lifeline 131 114
- Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
This article was originally published in the Newcastle Herald on 23rd July 2021.