A dog-sitting service says that looking after a four-legged friend could be the perfect antidote to the problem of loneliness in modern society.
Barking Mad, Teesside, Cleveland & Darlington says caring for a waggy-tailed companion on a temporary basis and meeting other like minded dog lovers can really help to overcome feelings of isolation.
The regional branch of the national franchise is run by Tracy Johnston, of West Park, Hartlepool.
Barking Mad offers the opportunity to care for dogs in your own home while their owners are away on holiday and experience all the benefits of dog companionship without any of the emotional or financial responsibilities of full time ownership.
Tracy is looking for more hosts in the area.
She said: “In the Teesside area we have about 20 hosts. We are always looking for more.
“Loneliness is a big thing at the moment, especially with the dark nights.
“A lot of people who are on their own like to go for a walk but don’t feel comfortable on their own which they may if they had a dog with them.
“The hosts get to have a dog of a short period of time, sometimes overnight, sometimes a couple of weeks, and they build up a bond with the dog.
“They live dogs, they just want the company of a dog but not on a permanent basis.”
And although loneliness is often associated with older people a study from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests it is young adults are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups.
And advances in technology mean the number of freelance and remote workers is rising with ONS data showing that 4.2 million people regularly worked from home in 2015.
Tracy, who owns two schnauzers, added: “Whilst remote working has obvious advantages, working alone under pressure and not having the physical presence of a team to support you can lead to loneliness that can’t be fixed by any kind of app.
“Caring for a friendly dog not only provides canine cuddles (far better than any virtual hug) but also the motivation to go and take a walk at lunchtime, increasing the likelihood of adhering to New Year fitness resolutions.”
To find out more about becoming a Barking Mad host call Tracy on (01429) 860846 or visit https://www.barkingmad.uk.com/local/county-durham/cleveland/