To the long line of men who’ve been desperate to date me,
I regret to inform you that your application for the role of Amy’s boyfriend has been unsuccessful. However, I wish you all the best for the future.
Yes, my experimentation with online dating has been successful. I’ve met a lovely man, and it’s going strong. Most importantly, he has a dog, an adorable golden retriever called Boris.
We’ve been on three dates so far, one with our doggies, one without, and one at his parents’ house (compliant with COVID restrictions, of course).
It has made blog writing difficult this month since my head has been filled with thoughts of a budding romance and not music-related topics.
Therefore, I’ve decided to write about dogs. True, there is little connection between music and pets, but my dog has played a significant role in my life, particularly during the pandemic, and I know that many others have found comfort and joy in pet-owning.
Animals can have a significant influence on our thoughts and emotional well-being. When I’m anxious, listening to gentle music calms me, and when I’m frustrated, listening to loud rock music helps me get that anger out of my system. And each time I’m feeling down, my dog comes to comfort me. (It’s very hard not to feel just that little bit better after a bad day when you come home to find a waggy tail on the doormat.)
If you look after them, pets (dogs especially) can give so much back: unconditional love, loyalty, amusement and comfort. To me, the evidence is clear - dogs are often brought into old people’s homes, trained to help autistic children and can even predict epileptic seizures. We never trained our dog to predict my attacks, even when I suffered them regularly, but he always knew when I was about to have one. He was and still is a great comfort to me when I feel unwell. Admittedly, his attempts to help are not always practical - pushing his nose into my face, licking every available part of me and barking - but I appreciate the effort, especially when he brings me his (very smelly) teddy.
There has been something of a boom in pet-buying during the pandemic. The BBC recently reported that 3.2 million households have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic, and the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association posits that this is in response to social isolation during lockdowns. Many people have suffered from loneliness since the COVID crisis occurred. Admittedly, you can’t have a deep, philosophical conversation with a dog, but they really do listen. And, “walkies” get you exercising and socialising - usually with other dog owners - which can be the start of a lasting friendship (my mum met her best friend while she was walking the dog).
Any pet can help your mental health. My sister finds solace in stroking her rabbits, and many people find a cat’s purring calming. I once read a report which showed that after two minutes of stroking a pet, people’s heart rates were significantly lowered.
Since I think we sometimes take the health benefits of pet-owning for granted, I dedicate this post to all the pets out there helping their owners through anxiety, loneliness, and sedentary lifestyles.