From personal experience, I know a dog is good for well-being – Kenny MacAskill

Kenny MacAskill’s dog requires exercise – from which he also benefits – and engages him in conversations (with other dog walkers).

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 11:40 am
A dog will get you out the house and talking to other dog walkers (Picture: Phil Wilkinson)

The loneliness crisis isn’t just because of the time of year when thoughts turn to family and friends but is down to wider societal changes. Families are fragmented and communities dislocated.

I can still name almost every family in the street I grew up in but struggle to know anyone in the tenement I now occupy.

There’s no single solution. Restoring communities or building up new ones is essential. It’s also part of a long overdue recognition of the challenges we face with mental health and well-being.

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Some of the former requires specialist resources and even medication. Much though is far simpler. Just as doctors dispense exercise, something I find both invigorating and healing, I sometimes flippantly wonder why we don’t have them prescribe pets?

A big dog for some or just a small lap dog for others. For the dogophobe, then maybe a cat.

I confess to having found my own four-legged friend a real boon for well-being. It’s not just the company she provides as well as the exercise she requires, but the conversations she engages me in – it’s true that dog walkers chat incessantly to each other.

I know that as I was bereft when I lost my last dog and walking alone neither offered the companionship nor opened the conversation.

So I know it’s flippant and not for all, but a trip to the Dog and Cat Home might be better for many than a GP appointment for an unnecessary tablet.