It's officially the Year of the Dog...

'Living well' means 'loving well' don't you think? Being surrounded by the innate sweetness of animals & seeing the goodness in people. Every year is the year of the dog, not just 2018. Here's our beautiful, inspiring Rufus - rescued as a pup from the brilliant Greyhound Gap: the gentlest, most elegant dog we've ever known. He's in our office every day (even though he's huge) ... and even though he's been rescued, but bear in mind we think we're the lucky ones!

For instance... 

  • More than any other household pet (we have a cat and can vouch for this), dogs are more attuned to our psyche and behaviour, understanding numerous words, gestures, intonation, body language; and in so doing can gauge our mental health and wellbeing. So much so that The American Heart Association has linked having a dog in the home with a reduction in heart disease and a more positive and greater longevity in life.

  • Canine owners are also less likely to suffer from depression, have lower blood pressure, maintain their weight and are better able to relax and calm the emotions (especially through walking and playing with a pup).

  • Dog owners over the age of 65 make one third fewer visits to their GP

Good reasons to consider taking on a dog include: the obvious commitment to regular daily exercise outdoors in the fresh air, but also regular companionship, they reduce anxiety and help us humans live more in the moment, being mindful and appreciate the joy of being present and not worrying so much about tomorrow. Plus of course, the very act of stroking a pet, especially an affectionate dog, calms and destresses both your dog and yourself.

Did you know? Dog owners with Alzheimer's suffer less stress and outbursts in much the same way that children with ADHD, autism and many other behavioural difficulties, can benefit too as playing and relating to a dog is a great antidote to stress.

We're not saying owning a dog is for everyone: from experience, we know it's not easy. The amazing guys at Greyhound Gap heavily vetted our home, and especially our children (but they're very gentle, kind people), before allowing us to take on the responsibility of our beloved Rufus (he was only 10 weeks old when he came to stay and this summer he'll be 10). And, if at any point we didn't feel that we could cope with him he was to be returned to them, not passed on to a stranger. Such is the care given. 

Considering rescuing? Why not foster a dog first? Many rehoming charities encourage this as it ensures that, as an adult, you fully appreciate the responsibility, cost, dedication, time and devotion required to keep you both very happy together. Or borrow a friend's dog for a weekend, and then a week. 

And as an aside, I think owning, caring for and above all, loving, a dog (as we know this is not sadly always the case) makes you ultimately more thoughtful, responsible, less aggressive as an individual, and helps the entire family as a whole.