Doggy Style! Why you need a Dog in your life......

Today’s insight is inspired by a meeting that I went to recently with one of our partners.  On arrival I was greeted in the most wonderful way by a smiling member of the team accompanied by the office dog Molly.  As a leaned down to give Molly some affection I was informed that she was a rescue dog and part of the crew.  Her demeanour put me immediately at ease and I felt very much at home in this business environment, knowing I was amongst like minded people and animal lovers.

How many more of you find that you are comforted by animals and nature in general?  In preparation to write this article I typed a number of search terms into Google and phrases like “Animal Therapy” and what’s commonly termed “Biophilia” came back with nearly 300,000,000 results!  I know that anecdotally there is something in this by the way I feel around cats and dogs and it seems there is a lot of research into the subject if you are interested in further reading online.

Part of the current thinking is around a hypothesis that we have evolved to be calmed by animals in our lives. The idea is that we would have used animals such as dogs as look outs and alarms in our evolutionary past to indicate the presence of a predator.  If we have livestock, or a dog in our “tribe” then their amazing sense of smell would have alerted us to dangers before we were aware of them ourselves.  The fact that an animal is relaxed in our company may switch on part of our evolutionary response which indicates we are not in danger, slows down our sympathetic nervous system and allows us to feel relaxed!

 Photography by David Neave

Photography by David Neave

As I write this my loyal Springer Spaniel (Lucy) is sat next to me.  She is nearly asleep and is breathing deeply and calmly.  I can feel her warmth against my legs.  As I stroke her she gently stretches her legs and has a little groan before slapping her chops and drifting back off to sleep where I’m sure she is chasing rabbits.  I’m finding myself smiling as I wrote that, and I can honestly say that having her has changed my life.

I like many people have experienced depression in the past. I look at it like any other illness or injury and am very happy to talk about my experiences with people and see no reason to keep it private.  Since Lucy joined our family I have definitely experienced a reduction in any signs of depression.  I’m not saying that I may not find it affecting me again, but I’m sure that our dog has had a positive effect both directly and indirectly through a number of “vehicles”.

I don’t know about you, but I get pleasure from seeing others that are happy.  Smiling and happiness is as infectious as a yawn to me, and if you know Springer Spaniels you’ll appreciate that they are happy most of the time!  There is a classic cartoon of a burglar coming into a house confronted by the (Springer Spaniel) “guard dog” wagging it’s tail.

In addition to this dogs need to be exercised. This in turn means that we walk or run with our dogs and get the excercise we need as well.  Lucy particularly loves to run wild and free in a woodland setting and we enjoy our little adventures together come rain or shine.  I even chose my car based on my lifestyle in the countryside with my family and dog and take great pleasure driving around in a beaten up Land Rover Defender covered in mud inside and out with my dog sat next to me on the middle seat in the front.

Getting outside with Lucy has meant that I am much more closely tuned in to the seasons.  When I combine this with all I’ve learned about mindfulness and life optimisation I can certainly say I’m much more balanced and centred in my feelings around and approach to life.  I think I owe a great deal to Lucy!

 Photography by David Neave

Photography by David Neave

So I’m not saying everyone should go out any get a Springer Spaniel.  Yes they are a life long commitment and they may not be for everyone.  Having said that I’m sure that anyone reading this knows someone with a dog if you don’t actually own one.  If you do, then I’d highly recommend that you get together and go for a walk together.  Who knows, you might get to the stage when you can regularly borrow their dog and take him or her for walks.  It’s the best way to find out if you could commit to having one in your life, and if you decide that you can’t, then you still get to go walking with a dog and gain all the associated benefits!

So here’s to Dogs and walking in the countryside. Find someone with a dog today and go for a walk. Write to us an let us know how it makes you feel.  We absolutely love getting feedback from our community.

PS: This article features Lucy Davis.  She has changed my life.

#respectyourtemple

Rich Davis