Posted 5 months ago ago
Written by Rachel Mainwaring
It’s no secret that hanging out with a dog is good for you. But I’m a fitter, nicer person than I would be if I didn’t have my cockapoo Bertie by my side.
From the minute I wake up - with him beside me - I’m immediately filled with a sense of calm. Staring in to those big, brown eyes I know that I can face whatever the day will bring. To the daily dramas of parenting two teens (and, let’s face it, there are plenty of those) to the constant barrage of bad news that engulfs the media or the challenges of working during a pandemic, he is a constant source of peace. Knowing that all he wants are the simple pleasures of food, walks and plenty of love, have trained my mind to feel at peace with the world first thing in the morning.
And then there’s the walks – which total around 120,000 steps for me most weeks. Apart from the obvious fitness benefits of walking around 10km a day, these daily walks provide so much more. There are the early morning spring sunrises that boast nature’s beauty, the wet wintry walks that make me grateful for my dry, warm home on my return. There are the walks alone, with just me and my thoughts. There are the joyful ones with my kids, when we laugh, chat and basically enjoy each other’s company and there are the ones with my hubby, after a long day at work, where we can just process the day, breathe and relax.
I’m also way more sociable now I have a dog. I spent years not really having a clue about all the neighbours who live around us. Now I know loads of them. There’s Max’s mum, Monty’s mum, Woody’s mum and Billy’s mum. Oh, and Alfie’s dad, Eddie’s dad and Freddie’s dad. See! I’m now engaging with the community thanks to my pooch. He’s been my little icebreaker, my conversation starter, my reason to actually speak to someone I’ve never spoken to before. There’s nothing quite like your dog having a good sniff at another dog’s bum to get you talking!
Bertie is also really, really good at cuddles. He’s a classic lapdog, jumping up on to the sofa next to me for a cuddle at every opportunity. And constant cuddles have definitely made me calmer. Stroking a dog is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and those medicinal snuggles are like mini miracles to me each day.
Though lockdown has been a largely positive experience for me, it’s impossible not to have uptight moments when you’re all penned in for months together. But having Bertie has been like having a relaxant available every day. He listens to my grumbles, he watches me curse under my breath while I find another plate under the sofa and he just sits there, chilling out until I’ve got it all off my chest.
Bertie hasn’t just filled my heart with love, he’s made it stronger. He’s helped me get fitter, he’s helped made me appreciate the beautiful world around me and he’s a shining beacon of calm in a world that can often be stressful.
His constant unconditional love is therapeutic, whether it’s the wagging tail when I return home from the shops or the head on my lap when he’s asking to go to bed. He’s about to celebrate his fifth birthday and none of us can imagine life without him now. He is the oxygen of my happy household and has helped create a happier, better, fitter me.