Dogs improve our lives in so many ways, but here are my Top 5 ways a Dog will enrich your Life.
1 - Having a dog gets you out
When you let a dog into your life, you commit to exercising it - every day. Obvious to you, as you are reading this blog, but I recently saw an alarming statistic. In a survey of 2000 dog owners carried out for National Dog Day in the UK, 1 out of 10 people don't take their dog out for even one walk a day - excuses cited were:
Bad Weather - Lack of Time - Being too tired!
These dogs are not the only ones missing out! A committed dog owner will go out in all weathers, make time and even go out when tired - getting out with your dog is so good for both of you. Fresh air, nature, and exercise are all great for your wellbeing and it is essential for your dog. May was National Walking Month and I set myself a target of 10,000 steps a day and I'm really happy to see that I actually achieved nearly 11,000, and I feel fantastic for it! And it wasn't actually that difficult to achieve with 2 dog walks a day.
Now, if you have an elderly or ill dog, then exercise will be limited, and I have spoken about this in a previous post 'The Slowing Pace of a Senior' - worth a read if you have oldies and struggling to adjust to their needs.
2 - You discover places you didn't know existed
Just the other day I found a magical park that is on my doorstep. I had been told where it was but struggled to find it and hadn't seen the lady who told me about it to ask. I don't give up easily and with the company of a neighbour and his dog Stan, we intrepidly explored and were rewarded by finding a fantastic space - once the parkland of a stately home - where the dogs can run and be safe in an enclosed area. The view was incredible, not one mile from the town centre it was peaceful and alive with birdsong.
So, if you have a dog, get the map out, ask other dog owners for new places to go or visit one of the many websites for dog friendly days out in your area. You never know, that new favourite place might be waiting for you to discover.
3 - You will make new friends
We have moved around a bit, from Surrey via Devon to Kent in the last 15 years. In every place we have lived we've made friends through having dogs. When you are out with your dogs chatting to a stranger is easy, and let's face it, you have probably already spoken to their dog! Dogs are great for breaking down barriers and helping with shyness.
I have met so many friends on social media because of our dogs. On Facebook I met Kerry, who isn't only our photographer, but a dear friend. Our joint love of whippets connected us, and I know that if we had met on a walk we would not have resisted chatting! Recently I met Erika from Whippet Up via my Facebook page Knitting for Galgos - we connected first on Instagram via a joint support for #savethegalgos. There are so many more and for this I am grateful to have these platforms that just weren't there 15 years ago.
4 - You will never be alone when you have a dog
We all lead busy lives and sometimes sharing them with other humans is trying! But having a dog by your side somehow is such easy company. They don't ask you lots of questions, don't pressure you and are always up for a cuddle! Now, don't get me wrong, I love my husband, family and friends, but being in the company of my dogs is, to me, the most perfect time.
If you live alone you will never be lonely with a dog around! They are known to aid depression and anxiety. Frankie and Bruno were both PAT (Pets as Therapy) Dogs who I took to a residential care home. I saw for myself the joy that they gave to many during the 5 years we did this. Often just having them in the room made the residents feel more relaxed. When my mum was in her last weeks she took great comfort from having Frankie lying in the bedroom near her. More so than having me with her - Frankie didn't nag her - 'have you eaten mum?' 'have a drink mum' She brought an easy peace to the room that probably felt like a prison to my poor mum who was paralysed by dementia.
5 - Dogs help you discover your own country
Dog care is expensive, and whippets are not good in kennels so over the years we have had them we have mostly holidayed in the UK. We have been to places that might have gone undiscovered were it not for the dogs.
We have found the beauty of so many places, from empty dog friendly beaches of Northumberland in the North to the scenic beauty of the Wye Valley in the West. Suffolk is our very favourite destination. Dog friendly cottages are no longer the ones that no one else wants to visit, as it used to be. Many boutique standard cottages are available as are great hotels. Dog friendly cafes are popping up all over the country too. This is all good news for travelling with your dog. It makes it so much easier if you can enjoy a day out exploring a new location knowing that you won't be refused lunch at the local hostilely!
This year we are getting the tent out and taking the whippets camping in the Cotswolds. I am looking forward to exploring new walks, new eateries, seeing the sun go down and sleeping under the stars in the company of those that I love most.
I cannot recommend having a dog in life enough, but if you are not in a position to have one full time, you could look into charities such as the Cinnamon Trust who need people to walk dogs of elderly or infirm owners.
If you are interested to know more about Suffolk you can have a read of this: