White Rose Shopping Centre ensured that today (16 January 2017) didn’t have to be a Blue Monday for its shoppers by hosting an area where customers visited puppies and dogs from the local Guide Dogs branch, to lift their spirits on what is reportedly the most depressing day of the year.
We talked to Jules from Ossett who lost her sight two and a half years ago following an illness. She was there with her black Labrador Tessa, who has helped her come to terms with the change in her life.
“Having Tessa has been fantastic, she’s transformed my life” said Jules. “We’ve learned how to get about and honed our mobility skills. I’ve also learned to read braille so I’ll be ready to go back to work soon.”
“Being blind isn’t all bad, I’m no longer frightened of heights or worried about creepy crawlies because I can’t see them!”
As well as Tessa, two retired dogs Sabre and Rhoda plus 7 month old puppy Magic were on hand to greet shoppers. Puppies spend about 8 months with a family before starting their training which takes about 14 months – the last few months with their new blind owner.
Falling on the third Monday of January, Blue Monday takes into account the winter weather, time since Christmas and money spent on celebrations, and failed New Year’s resolutions to culminate in the most morose day of the year. However, White Rose combated the sullen date with a cheerful day of furry friends, charitable acts, and prize giveaways to bring a smile to customers’ faces.
In addition to the delight that a dogs can offer, research through fMRI technology has revealed that the midbrain region – the area responsible for pleasure – lights up when people support a worthy cause. So, customers in the centre will be able to donate to Guide Dogs throughout the event – although a donation is not compulsory for a visit with the pups.
Steven Foster, General Manager of White Rose Shopping Centre, said: “We don’t like the thought of our customers having anything but a delightful time at White Rose, so we’re working with Guide Dogs to wholeheartedly combat Blue Monday while also supporting a good cause – a reason for smiles all round.
“We go above and beyond throughout the year to provide a pleasant experience for customers, with our free parking and convenient opening hours, but we thought that Blue Monday warranted an extra bit of furry assistance, plus some fun giveaways too.”