There is plenty of evidence that dogs are more than good friends, they also help boost our health, both physically and mentally. Rob Horsman is a Bristol-based man who understands this all too well. He had struggled with social anxiety and depression but found that walking a his dog, Mali, a Hungarian Vizsla, helped to ease the suffering. It helped so much that he wanted other men to experience the same benefits to their mental health. That is when Osman set up a dog walking group, Dudes & Dogs and started inviting men to talk about their feelings.
“Picture the scene. It’s one of those horrible wet and windy crappy cold days that we do so well in the UK. There’s no way in hell I want to go out in this, especially not the way I’m feeling,” says Osman.
“But there’s the dog, she doesn’t care that I feel like crap today. She doesn’t care that the weather is rubbish, she just wants to get out and play. With me. Really? Yes really. And you know what, it’s been the best therapy I’ve ever had.”
Osman is a firm believer that dogs help us to look to the simple things in life. Taking a few minutes to walk your dog in the sunlight or through the woods can really work wonders.
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Now the father of one is giving encouragement to other men to join him on those walks. He wants to create an environment that will be comfortable so that men can open up about their feelings.
“It is a good way to do so because you do not have to look at each other in the eye and are in an open space,” says Osman. “It is at their pace and there is no expectation for them to have to talk- it could be that they just listen the first few times.”
If you happen to be in Bristol and want to go for a walk and talk about your feelings, you can find more information on the Dudes & Dogs Facebook page.
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