One sunny Tuesday afternoon I walked across the beautiful Stray here in Harrogate to go to my friend's house.
Along with her and her two beautiful dogs (Benji and Ozzy!) we were headed to Knaresborough to attend a Walkies and Wellness Event run by Melissa Milner.
Walkies and Wellbeing
Walkies and Wellbeing is a like-minded group of dog owners and non-dog owners who share a passion for all things doggy related! In this group we share a walk, followed by a cuppa. We share positives of dog ownership/top tips and chat.
No dog? No problem! Come along and share all the good things about having a dog and soak up the good vibes that come from all the dogs in the room!
This was the first meeting that my friend and I had attended but we were very excited to go and see what it was all about. The dogs were understandably excited about going out, although slightly confused as to exactly where they were going or why!
I personally was excited to attend because what could be better than spending a couple of hours in the presence of a roomful of dogs complete with tea and biscuits!? I just hoped that my social anxiety wouldn't come into play and I would be able to properly relax and just enjoy myself.
Dogs For Better Mental Health
Many studies have proven that dogs are much more than your furry companion who drags you out of bed at 7AM in the depth of winter to go out and see if they can catch that squirrel again! Just the simple act of getting outside for fresh air and exercise is an act of self care in itself, as well all know that we should be getting outside for 30 minutes everyday. Having a pet which demands a walk just makes this slightly easier. Whilst walking the dog, you're bound to meet other dog walkers and depending on the temperament of your dog, they'll want to run and play with other dogs. By doing this they give you something to talk about quite naturally and if you do a regular route, you'll meet the same people and dogs all the time. This will inevitably lead to better physical health for both you and your dog as you get up and walk them twice a day.
Being in nature has also been proven to be really good for you - I know I always feel better when I've been for a walk in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside and it never fails to blow away the cobwebs and make everything seem just a little bit brighter. The fact that you have to get out and about everyday is good for those of us who suffer from anxiety. The dog's carefree nature can help get your mind off stressful thoughts and it has even been proven that dog ownership can help lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Not only that, but it has been shown that dog ownership can be very beneficial for those on the Autism spectrum. As the routine of it helps to reduce stereotyped behaviour, lessen sensory sensitivity and increase the desire and ability to connect socially with others. Above all, they can make you feel very proud - especially if you've rescued them and given them a better life! When you've trained them to be house-trained, behave around other people/dogs, fetch sticks/balls and come back when called you can feel a sense of pride. Owning a dog can also help combat loneliness as you have an animal which is relying on you to provide food, water, shelter and companionship. Dogs can also give you a sense of purpose, a reason to get out of bed every morning and see to their needs. Loneliness can also be tackled by actually going out to walk your dog - like I said previously, dog walking is a great way to meet people and become sociable. This is the aim of Walkies and Wellbeing, to bring together dog owners and non-dog owners alike, to create a group of like-minded people who all share a common interest. Melissa wants to create a group which is more than the quick chats you have with other dog walkers when out with your dog/s. To chat about everything concerned with dog ownership and create a space where it's OK to talk about anything which may be on your mind or is worrying you. It has been found that it's easier to talk about things when you're walking side by side with someone as opposed to facing them. This works perfectly when dog walking, as that's what you're doing most of the time! Also, having a dog can make for some funny times as dogs can be quite stupid at times and do things which are just ridiculous!
Why I Love Dogs So Much
I mean, I think it's obvious isn't it? Their carefree nature, their silliness, their absolute and utter devotion to their owners. They know nothing else other than their circumstances and will absolutely love whomsoever owns them and be loyal until the end. I tell you, there is nothing quite like being the chosen one when a dog doesn't ordinarily like people but doesn't leave your side. It definitely makes you feel special! They also seem to be able to pick up on your moods and know when something is wrong, sometimes before you do! There really is no better feeling than coming home to a wet nose and waggily tail after a stressful/busy day. When I arrived at my friend's house before heading out to Walkies & Wellbeing, the greeting I got was like nothing else!! Two excited dogs wanting to jump on me and lick me, barking and running around because they knew something exciting must be happening as I was there! This is why I'd definitely always choose dogs over people, any day of the week! Dogs seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to your moods, they always seem to know when you're feeling low and need a canine cuddle.
Equally, they know when you're excited and happy! I think this has something to do with the hormones you give off at different times, they are able to pick up on them and react accordingly.
I've Finally Found My People
It certainly seems that way now! I've been struggling to fit in ever since I moved up north, some of the people I became close to when I first arrived simply aren't friends with me and I have no idea why! So I've been struggling ever since to find a group of people who aren't in that blogging world and who absolutely love their dogs! It's so refreshing to forget about everything else that may be worrying me and instead just concentrate on fussing every dog in the room! Being allowed to say hello to all of the dogs and generally hang out with them just made me feel so much happier than I had in ages and helped me to forget all about the stress at work which had been worrying me. I really want to help this group out and raise awareness that they exist, it would be great if I could help more people come along and meet other like minded dog owners! Sarah xoxo