If you happen to be in Australia this month, you might encounter Benny and Frankie. Benny will be the one pushing the three-wheeled pack-cart. Frankie will be the one on the leash. This pair are making their way across the country on foot and paw. But they’re not doing it just for the exercise or …
Benny Scott & His Dog Walk the Globe for Pet-Friendly Rehab Awareness
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If you happen to be in Australia this month, you might encounter Benny and Frankie. Benny will be the one pushing the three-wheeled pack-cart. Frankie will be the one on the leash.
This pair are making their way across the country on foot and paw. But they’re not doing it just for the exercise or to take in the scenery
Why are these two on a trek across the outback?
It’s all about addiction recovery.
“Not Without My Best Mate” – a Journey to Pet-Friendly Rehab
For Benny, leaving his dog behind wasn’t an option. And while there are some recovery centers around the world that welcome pets, they aren’t on every corner. If you want to bring your pet with you to rehab, you may have to travel far from home and pay more for the treatment.
Benny decided to create his own solution. He and Frankie would take a recovery journey together. They would walk across the world, and use the experience to heal.
“An Impossible Task”
The plan: walk from one side of Australia to the other. Then, they’ll take their trek across the globe. Benny and Frankie will make their way to Bangkok and Beijing and ultimately end their journey in Alaska.
As of early April, the duo had been on the road for more than 100 days, making their way from Sydney to Darwin. They plan to reach this first milestone around July.
“It’s tough, but I wanted to experience the extremities of Australia,” Benny said. “I’ve set an impossible task, and I’m out to prove it is possible.”
Benny is on this journey for his own recovery, but he has another goal that reaches far beyond himself. He wants to create a pet-friendly rehab center.
He says the connection between owners and their pets shouldn’t be undervalued. “Having something to love and something loving you is a big part of your recovery,” he explains. “It’s a responsibility to wake up for every day. I’m trying to paint a path for an unconventional method to recovery … a pet-friendly recovery center.”
His plan is to open a recovery center that embraces this connection and welcomes pets along with their owners.
Benny has created the charity Walk2Recovery to back his efforts. The charity’s aim is to open the pet-friendly rehab center as well as raise awareness about addiction and recovery.
The Kindness of Strangers
Benny’s family met him and Frankie at their halfway point in Longreach. His mom noted, “I firmly believe that he’s conquered something in himself and he’s well on the way to recovery.”
But this isn’t the only support Benny and Frankie are feeling. Along their way, people have paid for their accommodations, invited them to stay in their homes, given them meals, or provided other support. Across the continent, people are taking an interest in Benny’s efforts.
Benny says it has been this kindness of strangers that has “kept him going on days when he felt he couldn’t go any further.”
He admits, “I get a lot of energy back [from people I meet] and it gives me the energy to keep going.”
Pet-Friendly Rehab: The Science Behind the Journey
It turns out, Benny’s idea of pet-friendly rehab may be unconventional, but it’s actually backed by scientific evidence.
Researchers have found that getting out in nature is good for us. It’s associated with increases in happiness, well-being, positive emotions, a sense of meaning and life purpose, and a decrease in mental distress.
And, they’ve found that trekking to remote locations seems to offer the most benefit.
And what about Frankie? He’s important too, researchers say. Dogs have played an important role in helping people with disabilities, illness, addiction, and other conditions since the 1860s.
Interacting with a dog can help restore natural functioning of a brain that has been altered by drug use. It raises dopamine levels (the “happy” chemical in the brain that is boosted by cocaine and other drugs). So, a four-legged friend can provide a healthy way to achieve a “high” – reducing the owner’s dependence on drugs.
The overall effects of owning a dog can help lower anxiety levels, alleviate depression, and build a sense of self-worth for their owners. And dogs can help people in recovery stay active and reduce loneliness.
Studies have also found that including dogs in therapy can give clinicians greater insight into their owners. Guided interactions with dogs during therapy can also help patients change thought and behavior patterns.
Wow – talk about a positive influence! It sounds like Benny was wise to keep Frankie by his side. And he was right in more ways than one when he said it simply:
“Frankie is my best mate.”
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