I believe there is nothing more heart warming than giving your time unconditionally to someone or something you hold close to your heart. 

This week is Volunteering week and I wanted to share what volunteering I do and why I believe this act of giving is so good for our health – both physically and mentally. 

I love all animals – but I especially love dogs for all the magical characteristics they display and their ability to always love us no matter what – they never have mood swings, hold grudges, gossip, judge – they just give and want to be close to us. Therapy dogs are becoming more and more a part of support now for both the elderly, in schools to help calm exam anxiety as well as for people suffering from mental health. 

Unless I am away, I go every Tuesday to Rescue Remedies Dog Rescue where I am a volunteer dog walker. Through this, I have met the most amazing group of people from all walks of life who all have their own motivations for wanting to volunteer – but we all share two values – kindness and compassion and of course our love for dogs.

Some fellow walkers have told me that they started volunteering to help with their mental health challenges like anxiety and depression, one walker used to come with her autistic child as the dogs calmed him. Others started for physical health reasons as they wanted to walk more and felt it was a shared benefit to get fit and to give so they not only improved their physical health, but also their emotional health. Others had arthritis which improved significantly with the number of hours walked. 

I had many mixed emotions when I first started 3 years ago as it was agonising to see all these innocent dogs behind bars for crimes they have never committed. Each one waiting and hoping that every new face was coming to take them to their forever home. I had to develop my emotional strength to help block out the pain of what suffering can look like and to always remain calm to help reassure the dog that I was a friend, as well as my physical strength to cope with some of the stronger dogs. 

It was my husband who reframed the emotional aspect for me,  as he said they are in a much better place now than they had been before they were rescued – one of warmth, good food and the best veterinary care as well as being love and walked by the many volunteers. Sadly, so many dogs who are living in homes aren’t walked or walked enough.

Each time I arrive, and I am greeted with that huge excited canine smile, I truly believe my heart gets that little bit bigger as I know I am making a small difference to some dogs lives and if we can all make small differences, together we will make a big one.

If you give of your time I would love to hear who or what you hold dear and if you don’t, then I encourage you to try and you too will also feel your heart getting bigger. Even if it is just for an hour a month, that hour will make a difference.

Enjoy the magical gift of giving x

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