January, with a heart as cold as ice and a soul that's darker than a Monday morning commute; however you look at it, it's a callous and unforgiving 31 days.
Blame it on the overdose of merriment throughout the festive season, New Year's resolutions that are already last year's news, weather that is hibernation-inducing and a bank balance that it's best to avoid eye contact with; it's no wonder that in the Northern Hemisphere January 21st has been fittingly branded as 'Blue Monday'.
Let's face it, we're all trying to get through each day in the first month of the year unscathed. To find our worth, our meaning, the reason to get up in the morning and to turn in at night feeling like we've achieved something. But January, you sure do have a way of throwing a spanner in the works; leaving us longing for the short and sprightly little whippersnapper that is February, with its promise of longer days and the tantalising emergence of spring's green shoots and the hope of a better tomorrow.
There are many ways to try and banish the blues, but top of the list has to be Pooch Power. This is not a revolutionary, or newfangled idea. People have been benefiting from dog ownership since the dawn of time in their pursuit of happiness.
We all know that stroking a dog for just 15 minutes a day releases our funky, feel-good hormones whilst giving their evil sibling, cortisol, the heave-ho, but there are so many more benefits to having a dog in your life when it comes to dealing with anxiety, depression, loneliness, disability, and myriad other conditions.
Here are a few good reasons to introduce a dog into your life, for January...and beyond -
1. We all need love in our lives. A dog loves you unconditionally. They are your Number 1, your Plus 1, your raison d'être, your Everything.
2. They follow you everywhere, including the toilet, so you are literally never alone.
3. They need walking. Walking is good for you. Walking takes place outside in the fresh air. Fresh air is healthy. Walking keeps your weight down meaning you can eat more food. Eating is life.
4. You always have someone to talk to. They agree with everything you say, making them a much more congenial accomplice than, say, a partner/teenager/goldfish.
5. They need feeding. That entails making an effort to provide your beloved dog with a healthy food option. That means you have someone to care for, because, unlike owning a sheep, you can't just open your door and leave your dog to feed on grass from your garden.
6. They provide a cunning little route in to talk to complete strangers when you're out and about. No longer will you look like a weirdo when you have a dog by your side. Having a dog is your 'Completely Normal Human Being' badge.
7. Dogs are funny. They make you laugh. Laughter is like a magic medicine. Here are some people in Australia having a fun time doing 'Laughter Yoga' with their dogs.
8. Therapy dogs. That is all.
And if you can't own a dog at the moment, there are some brilliant alternatives...
Why not borrow one? https://www.borrowmydoggy.com/
Or sign up to this wonderful website so you can house and pet sit whilst a dog-owner is away on holiday - https://www.trustedhousesitters.com