4 Ways To Make Life #BetterWithPets 

I’m writing this last entry for 2017 on Christmas Eve, with Basil beside me and all is good. It’s been a busy year working like the proverbial dog, planning for my wedding next year and general life shenanigans (hence the lack of blogging) so the break could not be more welcomed. We’ve got some nice things planned but the key point on my Christmas agenda is re-charging with the help of my three pets (I have two cats too by the way).

This post is inspired by the Purina Better With Pets Media Event we attended in November, which explored the key roles pets will play in the future, and as a major player in the pet industry – Purina’s commitments to society to continue to make life better with pets. The overarching theme was how pets could be the answer to surviving the tech revolution and with humanity predicted to “change more in the next 20 years, than the previous 300 years”, we could all do with taking notice. 

Exploring the subject was leading futurologist Gerd Leonhard, who warned that as technology advances at a faster pace than ever before, our humanity could be at risk as our relationship with machines and tech threatens to replace real bonds. If you think this sounds crazy then consider your relationship with your mobile phone, Alexa, social media and more, and how their capabilities will only advance further. Leonhard stressed that while all this tech is great at giving us what we want, it does not necessarily deliver what we need so real pets (not robotic or AI pets) could be the answer to retaining our ‘humanness’. Gerd and Purina are definitely onto something here, as there’s nothing like wiping your dog’s bum in public to keep you grounded, or a cuddle with a dog to melt away a crappy day. Inspired by some of the commitments set out in the first Purina In Society Report, I’m sharing four ways for a #BetterWithPets Christmas and 2018.

Out of hours work emails, endless social media scrolling, multiple what’s app groups on the go, as soon as you wake check of your mobile phone… in today’s world it can be very hard to switch off. This technology treadmill isn't great for our mental health. Someone’s seemingly ‘living the dream’ Insta moment can make you feel like an #epicfail and an OOO shirty work email can easily cloud your entire weekend. Downtime with pet can lift the spirits, clear your mind or bring balance be a long walk with a dog to help iron out an issue in your head or a cuddle with a purring pussycat to hypnotise yourself into a happier state. Should you not have a pet of your own, get your fix with a service such as Borrow My Doggy or become a volunteer at your local pet rescue. 

As part of Purina’s commitments is to ‘promote responsible pet ownership programmes for children’ so they can experience the joy and responsibilities of being with pets, which is all the more important as ‘easy’ technology doesn't give people unconditional love. While I don't have (human) children, Basil is a huge hit with my friends’ kids, who I know adore his company. He has a 10-year-old friend called Matilda, who along with his mum cares for Basil when we are away, and she takes great pride in caring for him. In fact, her bond with Basil is so great, she’s been given the role of official minder at our wedding. 

It's not just the young whose life can be made better with pets; they give joy to the elderly too. Today, Basil and I did our Pets As Therapy visit to our local care home and it's magical. We try to get there every couple of weeks, and the residents really love seeing Basil. Pets As Therapy is a charity you and your dog can get involved with to spend time with both young and old but if you don't have the spare hours, there’s a little way you can make an elder person’s life better with your pet. Age UK recently released figures that almost a million older people face crushing loneliness this Christmas, which is truly heartbreaking and the reality of what this means is shown in their ‘Just Another Day’ vide below. Whenever I see the elderly out and about, and catch them smiling at Basil, I always make the effort to linger for a quick hello and to let them pet him because I consider that perhaps they may have spoken or interacted with anyone that day. It takes less than 2mins and could make all the world of difference so why not follow suit on your walks.

Purina also promotes pet adoption through collaborations and partnerships. Owning a Pedigree dog, I’d be a hypocrite to preach the ‘adopt don't shop’ message too heavily but hats off to every one of you who has adopted. If like me, you already have a dog (adopted or not), there’s lots of ways you can support animals less fortunate while having fun with your own pup. Sign up to take part in an animal charity event for example Battersea’s Muddy Dog Challenge or Dogs Unite For Guide Dogs walks. London charity All Dogs Matter also hosts loads of events throughout the year such as brunches and themed walks so hounds and humans have fun for a good cause.

Purina are bastions of dogs in the workplace, with all their offices having dogs as part of the ‘workforce’. They also have a dedicated Pets At Work programme encouraging businesses across Europe to become a nine to fido kind of place. This is a subject close to my heart, as it was something I personally lobbied for in a previous job. Unfortunately, I was unable to get one of my two bosses to budge and ultimately not being able to have a dog at work was one of the key factors in me launching my own business, where I have the freedom of Basil clocking in with me every day. He’s a brilliant co-worker, offering soothing cuddles when I’ve had a stressful morning of deadlines or getting me away from my desk for a walk, which is when I tend to have some of my best ideas. A great way to make your life and that of your colleagues better with pets, is to take part in Bring Your Dog To Work Day (23rd June 2018) or cut straight to the chase by visiting Purina’s Pets At Work website where you can get useful information to present to your boss to land a more permanent ‘contract’ for your dog.

To read Purina’s Better With Pets report, Purina.eu/pinsreport

Whatever you have planned for the Christmas break, Basil and I hope you have a super time and that it’s made all the more better because it’s with your favourite pet. Wishing you a Happy Christmas and wonderful New Year. Alex & Basil xxx

Photo credit: Rachel Oates Pet Photography

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