Photo by Elly Rose Photography from Dexter’s first photoshoot!
For as long as I can remember, I have loved dogs. I grew up with Dalmatians, now have this gorgeous Goldendoodle in my life, work for an assistance dog charity and just generally feel approximately 110% better when dogs are around. I’m that person that will coo in the street when they see a dog walking by.
Dogs are not only cute to look at, but they are pure and want the best for their humans and tbh, they could teach us a lot. Less about the self-grooming and expecting people to pick up their poop, more about the unconditional love they have for their owners.
Recently my parents went away on holiday and asked if I could look after Dexter, the aforementioned gorgeous Goldendoodle. It was the longest they would be away from him and so I had no idea how well he would react to being without them. He was a very good boy, I’ll tell you.
But aside from enjoying being around a happy go lucky, well behaved doggo for a week, the experience of dog-sitting taught me a few things about my mental health. I thought I’d share my experience because dog owners will likely nod along, and those like me not fortunate enough to be around a dog all of the time might think again about turning down the next invite to dogsit for family or friends.
When you don’t usually have to go for a walk twice a day, the idea of dog walking might not exactly be ~appealing~, but actually, it’s not just good exercise, it’s also really great for blowing away the cobwebs. Every morning and evening, rain or shine (we had a bit of both) I’d take Dexter out for about 40 minutes and always felt much more awake for it.
There’s also the social aspect of walking a dog. Not only did I get to meet fellow dog owners and say hello to their cute doggos, Dexter draws a lot of attention for being gorgeous so I even got chatting to people who can just appreciate a glorious Goldendoodle.
You know what’s great for breaking up the day? A game of fetch in the garden.
Playing with Dexter and his favourite toy “squeaky” was a great stress relief and because Dexter is hilarious and leaps about like a giant lamb, it’s a lot of fun playing with him and laughing as he completely overshoots his run and skids all over the place with his comically long legs. What a silly sausage.
Fuss and cuddles
Dexter likes fuss on his own terms. He’s not an overly cuddly dog, but he loves a good chest or belly rub – or a back scratch. He might even come and sit next to you if he’s cold.
It’s no secret that fussing a pet reduces stress and is ~hella comforting~, so having Dexter’s fluffy coat to stroke whenever I (well, he) wanted had a lovely calming effect.
Having never owned my own pet without parents to do all the necessary things to make sure it didn’t die, being responsible for Dexter during the time we spent together helped to break up my usual routine of just feeling responsible for tackling my workload and the washing up.
I felt productive without obsessing about it. Making sure Dexter had a walk, food, play or fuss when he needed it and was allowed in the garden to do his business were all little tasks that were a welcome distraction from the to-do list.
Speaking in a high pitched cheery voice makes you feel better – FACT. Probably because it’s near impossible to do without a smile on your face. Declaring Dexter as a good boy in a pitch specifically reserved for good doggos is definitely impossible to do if you’re in a bad mood.
He only really listens to what you’re saying if you reassure him he’s a good boy, so the majority of the time with him was spent speaking that way. “Good boy, this way!”, “good boy, let’s go!”.
I mean, he is a good boy and he does deserve to be told it at every given opportunity, tbh.
Whether you have your own dog or dog-sit from time to time I’d love to know the impact it has on your mental health down in the comments!