Taking your favourite dog for a visit could be the way to break the ice with lonely or older neighbours this Christmas! This year, Barking Mad are issuing a call to action to all dog lovers to join them in sharing a little festive spirit in our neighbourhoods this year.


It is so easy to be swept along on the relentless tide of commercialism at Christmas, but at Barking Mad we aim to inspire people to realise that the greatest gift they can give their community is time. It is a heartbreaking reality that many people will spend Christmas alone. Equally, Christmas can really amplify the desolating effects of bereavement, divorce or illness, as the nation is bombarded by advertising agency images of a seasonal wonderland filled with love and laughter.

We now know that a staggering 1 million older people are chronically lonely, and the NHS Choices website  offers the following advice on tackling loneliness:

“There are lots of ways you can do your bit to help lonely or socially isolated elderly people in your community. Volunteering for an organisation that supports older people is a key way of helping a lonely or socially isolated older person. But a simple friendly chat or phone call can make all the difference too.”

We can’t fail to be aware that we should all be playing a role in reaching out to community members who may be spending a Christmas bereft of family and friends. However, the reality of the situation is that it can sometimes feel a little awkward to begin a conversation and you may worry about being perceived as patronising or interfering. Dogs are a great leveller and are not influenced by social status; generally if someone is pleased to see them they are delighted to respond. Using your pet, or borrowing someone else’s, is a natural way to spark a conversation, which can lead to really positive interaction.


So how can you join in?

  1. Contact your local Barking Mad Dog Care branch – click here to find yours
  2. Explain you’d like to be part of your local Barking Mad community
  3. Take your dog* (or borrow one) and agree who’s day you will brighten up!

(*A common sense approach is obviously required though and the dog must be of suitable temperament).

Barking Mad founder and MD Lee Dancy enthuses:

“Great Britain is a nation of dog lovers but sadly it is not always practical for everyone to own pets. It only takes half an hour of your time to visit an individual who’d really appreciate the chance to see and stroke a friendly animal. We hope that through this initiative, we can help ensure that older people feel valued and included at Christmas.”

We will be promoting the initiative via our Facebook page throughout December and would absolutely love to hear from you, if you and your favourite dog have managed to spread a little festive cheer!

We place massive importance on the value of community in our business and are delighted to see the growth of our very own ‘host community’. Our hosts care for dogs who are on holiday and enjoy both canine companionship and the opportunity to meet like minded dog lovers at social events and dog walks. We have seen many friendships struck up through a shared love of dogs and at this festive time of year, our franchise owners organise Christmas social events aimed at ensuring that everyone has an occasion to celebrate.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a member of the Barking Mad Host Community, please visit www.barkingmad.uk.com/pet-holidays/become-host or call us on  033 33 44 3353