As part of our research, we spoke to dog owners to discover some of the ways their dogs had helped them combat loneliness and get through difficult times in their lives. We want to take this time to thank everyone who took the time to share their experiences.
Please note: This article contains sensitive topics that some people may find uncomfortable or distressing to read.
Meet Lucy & Her Dog Nellie
Breed: French Bulldog
Celebrity personality: Jennifer Lawrence
1. What is your favourite memory with Nellie?
The first time she swam with me in the sea!
2. Has there been a time in your life where Nellie has helped you through a difficult patch?
Nellie was there for me at a time when my life changed. I was made redundant from a job where I was being bullied, I was drinking far too much, I was in a bad relationship and it all crashed down in one moment.
That day, Nellie was listed for sale on Gumtree. I couldn't believe anyone would be stupid enough to sell an 8 week old female Frenchie on Gumtree. I contacted the owner and said I'd come get her and pay them (some!) cash if they took her offline.
My plan was to find her a really good home. But I didn't think it was a good time for me to have a dog given I was wobbling financially! But I fell in love with her.
I'm now starting my own business, am 18 months clean and sober, am happily single, and have done a lot of work on finding my own happiness. I start every day with a walk on Brighton seafront with Nellie, listening to a business podcast! We spend our weekends exploring the downs, and she is my favourite thing in the whole world!!
3. What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of being a dog owner?
Seeing Nellie being so happy and healthy thanks to the life I’ve been able to give her.
Meet Kiwi & Goose
Breeds: Mix-breed rescues from Cyprus (Pointer cross, Labrador cross)
Celebrity personalities: Goose - The Forrest Gump of dogs, Kiwi - Mariah Carey (total diva!)
1. Why did you get Kiwi and Goose?
They are both rescue dogs, and both were a love at first sight!
2. What would you say is the best thing about being a dog owner?
The unconditional love that you get in return for a pet.
3. What is your favourite memory with Nellie and Goose?
Both of their first days at home are incredibly special to me, as well as taking holidays with them.
4. Has there been a time in your life when Kiwi or Goose have helped you through a difficult patch?
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since my early twenties, and got Kiwi a few months after receiving my first official diagnosis. She’s been with me through thick and thin, through good days and bad days, and break-ups and house moves.
Having a dependant, and a little furry face that needed me to get out of the house and take care of her was the biggest motivator to take better care of myself too.
For the longest time I felt incapable of enjoying the things that come with your twenties, and having the structure and comfort of Kiwi by my side has helped me feel so much more confident and settled and braver.
Meet Kelly & Her Dog Reggie
Breed: Cocker Spaniel
Celebrity personality: Michael McIntyre crossed with Lee Evans
1. What is your favourite activity with Reggie?
A long walk to his favourite place, followed by cuddles on the sofa.
2. Can you tell us what you think is the best thing about being a dog owner?
The unconditional love they give with no judgement.
3. Has there been a time in your life where Reggie has helped you through a difficult patch?
We lost our first pup Indi at sixteen months on the evening of our wedding day. My mum got the call and told us the next morning.
We had always wanted two dogs and as we knew Indi was unlikely to make his second birthday, we'd got ourselves pup number two as a wedding present to ourselves, and for company for Indi as he loved playing with puppies.
We picked Reggie up three days after our wedding and losing Indi. Reggie helped us heal from losing our Indi.
Meet Tiffany & Her Dog Elsie
Celebrity personality: Celine Dion, because she fills the room with her voice and presence!
1. What is the best thing about being a dog owner?
Just feeling that presence of another being in the room when you're waking up and going to sleep. She's the perfect companion and best friend.
2. What would you say is the hardest thing about owning a dog?
I can’t think of one thing, they are a complete joy. However you do worry about them too, their health and if they are happy that day.
3. What is your favourite memory with Elsie?
My favourite memory is watching her grow as a puppy. Just feeling really happy when she was finally here and snuggling with her at night. Also teaching her to sit was so joyful.
4. What is one thing Elsie does that makes you laugh?
Snuggling her elephant, she’s had this as a baby. She also loves peanut butter and will sit by the cupboard and wait for it.
5. Has there been a time in your life when Elsie has helped you through a difficult patch?
Elsie really pulled my mum out of a dark time. She spent some time in hospital last summer and when she got out she lived alone. I had to go back to London and I just knew I had to get mum a dog.
She loves animals and really needed something to get her back into a routine, give her some confidence to get up and concentrate on something other than her feeling poorly. It’s the best choice I could have made and I was so happy I could do it for her.
We are so lucky she’s the best dog and has brought so much joy.
Meet Colin, Paul & Their Dog Beau
Breed: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Celebrity personality: The bats vine girl - freakin' bats and halloween
1. What do you think is best thing about being a dog owner?
Unconditional love, devoted companionship, constant entertainment - to name a few! There are so many great things about being a dog owner but for us, we’d say how it’s improved our lifestyle.
Managing our small businesses, we have a never-ending list of things to do with days in the week that start early and finish late. Prioritising time for Beau, makes us better manage our daily schedule. A twenty minute walk with Beau around the park is the perfect opportunity to clear your head.
2. What's the hardest thing about owning a dog?
The hardest thing for us is managing our feelings of guilt when we leave him - even though he is never alone! When we’re both at work, Beau enjoys being spoilt by his ‘grandparents’ who he has a very close bond with.
Many dog owners, us included, can feel guilty when we leave our companions but thanks to Beau’s chill nature, we’re very lucky to have family and friends who would jump at the chance to watch him for us..
3. What is your favourite memory with Beau?
Wow - There’s too many to count! A lot of the ‘first’ moments always standout. Like his first birthday party and his first time playing in the ocean. But we’ll never forget the day we brought him home and how he melted into our lives like as if he’d always been a part of our family.
4. What's one thing Beau does that makes you laugh?
There’s his “Beau-spoke” sleeping habits. He lets you know when it’s time for bed by sitting at the bedroom door - any later than 11.00pm and he gets cranky! And you must let him up for a cuddle but to be honest that could be more for us than him.
Then the snoring - who knew such a small dog could make such a noise. And he will only sleep in his bed if you lay that days t-shirt for him to settle on. We like to think that’s because he dreams of us but that might just be our opinion.
4. Has there been a time in your life when your dog has helped you through a difficult patch?
When my father passed during the pandemic, inter-country restrictions meant I was unable to travel to Thailand to be with him in his final moments. Beau would constantly be by my side or under my feet through my mourning process, and I’ll be forever grateful because he made sure I was never alone.
Meet Amy & Her Dog Maya
Breed: Boston Terrier
Celebrity personality: A sassy one!
1. What would you say is the best thing about being a dog owner?
Maya has quite literally changed my life. Her personality makes me laugh every day and it’s so true what they say about a dog being your best friend!
2. The hardest thing about owning a dog?
Knowing that she won’t be with me forever.
3. What is one thing that Maya does that makes you laugh?
4. Has there been a time in your life when Maya has helped you through a difficult patch?
The past few years haven’t been easy, I went through a tough time with my job, had health problems of my own and found out that a close family member had breast cancer. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten through it all without having Maya at my side. At the toughest times she’d always know when to come for a cuddle and is great at licking tears away!
Meet Laura & Her Dog Bella
Celebrity personality: Beyoncé - the attitude and sass is real
1. What does quality time with Bella look like?
Spending time together. We go everywhere together, whether to my mums, the garden centre, a meal - everything we do we make sure it’s dog friendly! We don’t like being alone, so why would our pup?
2. What is the hardest part about being a dog owner?
Everything I do is for Bell, although she occasionally wakes up in the night for the toilet, it’s all worth it.
The hardest part is probably leaving her to go to work. She’s with my mother in law and another dog, but I just miss her!
3. What about the best thing about owning a dog?
Giving Bella the best possible life I can. Seeing her play, meeting other dogs, running around, and having her treats. I love just seeing her happy.
4. Has there been a time in your life when Bella has helped you through a difficult patch?
I significantly suffered with my mental health growing up to the point I attempted to take my own life. I am now on medication, but Bella is the best medication.
She gives me purpose, she relies on me to feed her, to love her, to care for her, to walk her. I love being with her, I talk to her as if she could talk back, but she responds in her own pup way.
She’s almost one years old now, and watching her grow and develop has just been so rewarding. I feel like you develop a bond with your pup like no other and that saved me.
Meet Ellamae & Her Dog Luna
Celebrity personality: Jo Jo Siwa
1. What, for you, is the best thing about being a dog owner?
The love, compassion and independence you get from having a dog.
2. What is your favourite memory with Luna?
Her cuddles and bringing her home to my three children.
3. What do you think is the hardest thing about owning a dog?
Leaving her when I have to go to work.
4. Has there been a time in your life when Luna has helped you through a difficult patch?
My daughter has respiratory issues and our dog alerted us once when she was having an attack, and saved her from becoming really unwell.
So I guess the point here is that she helps me ease the anxiety of my daughter's illness, as I know she is likely to alert me when my daughter is unwell, and will look after us while we await the medical attention she requires.
She makes friends with the paramedics and showers them in kisses as a thank you.
Meet Kay & Her Dog Meeko
Breed: French Bulldog
Celebrity personality: Jack Whitehall
1. What is your favourite memory with Meeko?
Meeting him for the first time and taking him home from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
2. What is the best thing about being a dog owner?
The endless, unconditional love.
3. What is one thing Meeko does that makes you laugh?
Piggy noises and grunting!
4. Has there been a time in your life when Meeko has helped you through a difficult patch?
I have been in hospital a lot of my life, struggling with my two stomas and often felt lonely and depressed.
I was in so much pain I no longer wanted to live, however still receiving pictures of Meeko and having face times with him gave me some hope and something to wake up for everyday.