January 31 2015 Latest news:
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
When prison officer Helen Solomon was viciously attacked by an inmate it turned her life upside down.
The Halesworth grandmother suffered huge depression and stifling anxiety leaving her contemplating suicide.
But after the 57-year-old’s beloved Border collie Meg faced her own adversity, the news gave Ms Solomon the strength to fight and rebuild her life.
Ms Solomon worked as a drug and alcohol councillor to young offenders serving life sentences at Warren Heath in Hollesley Bay, near Woodbridge, when she was attacked at Christmas 2007.
Three months later and at the depths of her despair she was forced to push her feelings aside when Meg dislocated her left hip and needed a life-threatening operation.
Six months later Ms Solomon had to sell her new car to pay for a second procedure when Meg, now seven, dislocated the other hip.
She said: “I was attacked by a prisoner and barricaded in a room. It absolutely shattered me, both mentally and physically. It broke me.
“I did contemplate suicide. I took Meg to a quiet spot but she looked at me and just everything about her made me think I couldn’t do it. She changed my mind there and then.
“I found solace by walking Meg and going out with her. She made me feel safe.
“When she dislocated her hip in March 2008 everything went into getting Meg well, I couldn’t think of anything else. We got her right and then six months later it happened again.
“We were told by one vet that she would need a wheel cart for life instead of using her back legs or she would need to be put to sleep, but when we got a second opinion the vet decided to give her hydrotherapy and physiotherapy.
“Slowly she learnt to walk again, she didn’t know where her centre of gravity was, so we had to teach her.”
Incredibly Meg’s recovery has been so extensive she has won several dog obedience competitions and was nominated for The Kennel Club’s Friends for Life competition this year.
The Kennel Club, run by Crufts, celebrates heart-warming stories of friendship in adversity, where dogs have truly earned the title of man’s best friend.
Although Meg didn’t make the final five Ms Solomon is proud of how far they have both come.
They now work as volunteers for the charity Pets As Therapy providing visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes and special needs schools. Every Monday the pair visit dementia sufferers at Rayner Green Care Home in Halesworth.
Ms Solomon said: “Meg really takes the lead as she’s so calm. She has taught me that not all strangers will cause me harm. I’ve got three other dogs but I have a close bond with Meg.
“I’m still anxious and to this day I can’t go to some shopping malls as the shops give me flashbacks and the walkways remind me of the prison system.
“But I have come through it. I helped Meg and Meg helped me.”
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