Saturday, 7 January 2017

Random thoughts on the Company of Dogs

Something I wanted to do in 2016 was spend more time with dogs. Sound like an odd thing to aim for? Let me explain . . .

I don't own a dog for various reasons. My live-in chef is allergic and we work the kind of hours that wouldn't suit a canine companion anyway. We have two cats who would be mightily opposed to a dog, and I don't know if the level of neediness you get with dogs as opposed to cats would be something I could cope with that well on a day in/day out basis. However, I do find dogs to be delightfully happy souls. They seem to be incapable of hiding any emotion whatsoever and their ability to live energetically in the moment is a blessing and a useful lesson. Since having problems with anxiety and depression a couple of years ago, part of my self-prescribed treatment is to do what I can to feel more connected to the outside world, to nature, to life and to my local community, be it of the two or four legged variety.

I joined Borrow My Doggy last spring but found the experience to be a damp squib. I made one connection in 6 months and as a result closed my account before my initial year was done. Next I signed up to The Cinnamon Trust as a volunteer dog-walker and that has been a lot more successful. Unlike Borrow My Doggy, The Cinnamon Trust is a charity rather than a business and looks to match up possible fostering and dog-walking volunteers with people who are of an age where they find it difficult to give their dogs as much exercise as they would like, or those who have a terminal illness. I was matched up within about a week and have been contacted about a couple of other dogs since then as well. I love walking in the local parks anyway so this has given me even more excuse to get out in the fresh air.

Poppy - my friend's cavapoo. Born in 2016, I have been very
lucky to spend some quality time with this adorable puppy,
though her energy has at times left me glad when she goes
back to Mum and Dad!

I've borrowed Cesar Milan's Short Guide to a Happy Dog and Why is my Dog Doing That by Gwen Bailey from the library and picked up some tips, but as the dogs I walk belong to other people it's more about me understanding dog behaviour than retraining any of the ladies and gents I step out with. Last year had some informative shows on TV too, form Choose the Right Puppy for You to The Secret Life of Puppies. Something these shows lacked for me was attention paid to rescue dogs. So many animals out there already need a home that it seems a shame that a lot of people feel the need to buy puppies to order. If I am ever in a position where I can have a dog, I hope that I would look to get a rescue first. I follow Steve Greig on Instagram and love his updates on how his menagerie of senior pooches are getting on.

I look forward to other match-ups I may have this year courtesy of the Cinnamon Trust. It's been so lovely to know I'm helping people while also getting to spend time with some very sweet dogs.

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