2016 was the year I met the love of my life. He's huge, he's hairy and he has terrible breath.
His name is Bertie and he's the biggest chocolate Labrador I have ever seen.
In March last year I started my own communications business working from home. I was excited, but I knew that what I would miss the most is the company (and gossiping) during the day. There's meetings and networking events, but on those 'head down' days it's easy not to speak to anyone for hours, and that's where borrowing a dog came in.
If you haven't heard of Borrow my Doggy it's a team of people who are aiming to leave 'paw prints of happiness' by connecting dog owners with local 'borrowers' nearby.
So I searched locally for the dogs in my area and there were plenty of all shapes and sizes, but one handsome man caught my eye. Sue, Bertie's owner, had just moved to the village so we messaged a few times and decided to meet. As they say, the rest is history.
For us it has been a perfect match and I would recommend it to anyone. There are plenty of reasons why borrowing a dog is an amazing idea but here's my top six.
Lose that post Christmas weight
An obvious one, but if your resolution this year is to get fit then going out walking with your borrowed doggy could be the perfect motivation. The dog gets an extra walk and you get to burn off those calories from Christmas. I've found I can walk for much longer with Bertie than I expected and getting outside in the afternoon is a great way to have some fresh air and think of new ideas.
There's less commitment
If getting a dog is too much commitment for you as it is for our family, then Borrow My Doggy is a brilliant compromise. As soon as I went self-employed I thought I would have plenty of time for a dog, but the reality is it would probably still be too much right now. Borrowing a dog was a great 'trial run' to see how it would be and although I do have Bertie most days, I am out a lot so it wouldn't be fair on my own pet.
It's cost effective
Borrowing a dog is a good way of saving money for both the owner and the borrower. There is a small fee for joining but both Sue and I agree it's a great price for what we have both received. As a borrower it's easy to see why this makes sense. Dog food can be pricey and if anything should happen to your pooch then vets' bills cost a fortune, which can be one of the main reasons why people are hesitant about getting a dog. Until I am 100% sure I can afford a dog I will keep on borrowing. For owners there is often a big saving on the cost of dog walkers, doggy day care and even kennels if Bertie and I have a sleepover!
Your dog will have SO MUCH FUN
Bertie is one lucky dog. Not only does he have a great time with Sue at home, but together we have been on plenty of adventures which he might not have experienced otherwise. We've been over to Cardiff, taken part in the RSPCA Big Walkies at Alexandra Palace and explored lots of new walks in the local area. He meets new dogs and people every day so it's a great way for him to socialise.
You could make new friends
As well as making a new friend in Bertie, our family have also made a new friend in Sue. One of the most important parts of Borrow My Doggy, and something that a lot of owners worry about, is letting a stranger look after your dog. Getting on with Sue was important as she needed to trust me and that would have been much more difficult if we didn't get on. Borrow my Doggy has lots of advice about meeting someone from their website so it is well worth a look if you have any concerns.
It's good for your mental health
It's not breaking news that pets are great for your mental health. We have seen lots of stories recently about dogs becoming therapy dogs and for years they have been used as guide dogs. They provide companionship if you are lonely, encourage exercise which can help with depression and have a calming effect if you are struggling with anxiety. Dogs are great company on those days when you just feel rubbish. I challenge anyone to spend 10 minutes with Bertie and not feel even a tiny bit better...
To find out more about Borrow My Doggy visit www.borrowmydoggy.com.
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