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On World Mental Health day (10 October) Homesitters Ltd, one of the UK’s home and pet sitting company, is stressing out the beneficial effects spending time with animals has on our mental health, and encourages dog lovers to consider becoming pet sitters. 

According to a study commissioned last year by the Butcher’s Pet Care food company, dog owners are “fitter and healthier” than whose without dogs, and that 73 per cent said they enjoy exercising while looking after a dog. However, the effects on mental well-being are just as important, lowering stress levels and making pet owners less likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression. 

With a high number of older people experiencing loneliness in the UK, it’s no surprise that many seek the companionship of a pet. While owning a dog is not an option for everybody, becoming a home and pet sitter is an excellent way to spend some time with pets, and has become a popular form of employment among older people. Homesitters Ltd has seen a 10 percent rise in the number of homesitters in the past two and a half years – most of them between 50 and 70 years of age.

Martin and Kristine Bell, from Collingham, began homesitting when they lost their West Highland Terrier; they missed caring for a dog, but couldn’t bear to have another – so becoming homesitters was the ideal compromise, giving him the joy of looking after a dog without the responsibilities of ownership.

Martin says, “There’s no better way of spending an evening than with a dog on your knee or by your feet to stroke while you’re reading, it gives us a great feeling of contentment.”

 Sue and Gordon Heels, a retired couple in their mid-sixties from Bedfordshire, have been homesitters since 2010. They list the possibility of looking after pets as one of the major perks of the job, as do about 72 percent of people employed by Homesitters.

Sue says, “Home and pet sitting provides us with a complete change of scene and we love spending quality time together taking the dogs for walks. One of our regular assignments is at a home surrounded by beautiful woodland where we take daily walks enjoying the wild flowers and the birdsong.”

Image by Homesitters Ltd.

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