There’s a guy in my life right now who brings me endless joy. I only have to look at him and my heart implodes with love. Unfortunately it would be illegal for me to marry this guy because he’s of the canine variety and churches don’t allow dogs.

Anyway – that’s a weird way of saying that I really really love my puppy Reo. He’s a tiny little hound who is a Boston Terrier crossed with Pug, namely a ‘Bug’. I met him two years ago through the website ‘Borrow My Doggy’ and have been dating, sorry dogsitting, him twice a week ever since.

It’s difficult to write this blog without going down the route of Crazy Dog Lady, but it’s hard not to gush over an animal that has stopped me losing the plot on many an occasion. There are so many ways that he improves my life.

He gets me out of the house for a walk, when I might otherwise have stayed under my duvet. Random strangers stop and chat to me in the street and in shops. Children stretch their chubby hands out of pushchairs to stroke him. Handsome men stop by my table in the pub to tickle him. Reo is a people magnet, and in a world of phone-addicted cyborgs (me included), that can’t be a bad thing.

Reo knows when I’m feeling blue, he sticks to my heels and snuggles next to me on the sofa. He has the sweetest, gentlest soul and even a five-minute nuzzle gets my frown turned upside down.

And it’s not just me, there’s research on the power of the pooch. Miami University psychologist Allen McConnell and colleagues invited pet owners into their lab. Even though owning a pet won’t banish all our problems, they did find that a lot of pet owners had better self-esteem, were healthier and less stressed. And research this year from Cambridge University found that pets are good for children, boosting their social skills and emotional well-being.

I’ve just got in from a stroll around the block with Reo and now I’m watching him snooze with his snout twitching, he’s clearly dreaming of wagging tales and Bonios. He’s the perfect antidote to a stressed out world.

I promise I don’t work for Borrow My Doggy – but boy, what a life changer.

By Ruth McDermott