Loneliness and the Power of Pets.
In this article Holidays4Dogs looks into the high profile subject of loneliness in people. Loneliness is a very real issue for many people from all walks of life and this is something that the late Jo Cox MP recognised through a commission on the issue, which she worked on until her death in 2016.
In 2018, loneliness was added to the portfolio of the country’s Minister for Sport and Civil Society in order to include the issue as part of parliamentary debate. In the same year the government launched its Inaugural Loneliness Strategy which says is, “for everyone” and that, “to get there requires society-wide change”.
In a recent BBC Radio programme, this subject was highlighted through their ‘BBC loneliness experiment’ – a year long study involving questionnaires and interviews with 55, 000 people from 237 different countries, which has been deemed the largest survey of its kind in the world. The results show that almost anyone, of any age, can be affected by feelings of loneliness and a third of people who took part in the survey claim to have felt lonely often, or very often.
Experts suggest that most loneliness is transitory, but when it is felt over a long period of time it can become chronic and debilitating. However, there are solutions suggested by participants in the survey that can help to combat feelings of loneliness.
High on the list of solutions was to find distractions in the form of new study, hobbies, social activities and smaller things such as starting a conversation with someone you don’t know. The latter idea can help lonely people to feel more connected to those around them but this can be difficult for some people; not just because it can be hard for those less confident, but because the BBC survey showed that there is still a stigma attached to loneliness and rarely do people want to admit they may be lonely.
Caring for pets as an antidote for loneliness, in particular dogs, was not something that was raised in the survey; however, Holidays4Dogs argues that this perhaps should be more widely suggested as a valid means of combating feelings of loneliness.
It has long been accepted that dogs are capable of creating feelings of well being in people and that the human-animal bond can provide a unique form of social support which helps people to feel loved and wanted. In addition to these health benefits, dogs help people to meet others – dogs are great ice-breakers and owners often stop and chat to each other when they are out walking their dogs; it is not uncommon for these brief daily chats to develop into new long term friendships.
At Holidays4Dogs we have hundreds of dog carers across the UK who look after a pet dog while their owner is on holiday or away. Dog Carers understand that having a dog can help people to get out and about and meet new people and that’s one of the important reasons they join us. Loneliness is a very serious subject and one which the government’s loneliness strategy highlights as being important to our physical and mental health as well as our social connections and how this impacts on our well being.
The key is to choose something that is suited to you – so if you are a dog lover, this could be of real benefit. Holidays4Dogs is not like any other dog home boarding company and by joining our team as a dog carer, it could just be a suitable solution to combat loneliness. Not only do our dog carers get to build friendships with many dog owners, they welcome different characters of dogs into their homes all the time, creating interest and something to chat about to other people. As a company, we are highly supportive of all our carers and there is always someone on the end of the phone 24 hours a day.
There should be no stigma attached to loneliness – all of us become lonely at some points in our lives and so we should all try to help to alleviate loneliness felt by ourselves and others. As stated in the government’s loneliness strategy, this not only includes individuals and families, but the wider community, including businesses and local authorities.
With our UK wide network of dog owners and the carers who look after their dogs, have the power to connect people together and this is something that Holidays4Dogs are extremely proud to be able to do as our way of helping to combat the very real effects of loneliness felt by so many people at different times in their lives. Find out more about looking after a dog in your home by contacting Holidays4Dogs.co.uk