The dog’s honest truth

Why all dogs are champions who change our lives for the better March means it’s Crufts time again, which will see stunning breeds from across the world competing for the revered title of Best in Show. And, while your canine chum may not boast a pedigree certificate that reveals five generations of champions, for those of us who are devoted
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9th March 2023

Why all dogs are champions who change our lives for the better

March means it’s Crufts time again, which will see stunning breeds from across the world competing for the revered title of Best in Show.

And, while your canine chum may not boast a pedigree certificate that reveals five generations of champions, for those of us who are devoted to our dogs, no such paperwork is needed to prove just how wonderful our faithful four-legged friends can be.

Having a dog companion – or indeed any beloved pet, whether that’s a cat, bunnies, guinea pigs, ferrets, hamsters, chinchillas, rats or other adorable small furries – can be life transforming.

And you don’t just have to take our word for it. Here are some thoughts to ponder on – from animal experts to academics – on five key benefits of having pets and why we should cherish this very special relationship...


“A dog can provide company and friendship, turning your house into a home. You can go on walkies with them and chill out together, and they’ll become a much-loved part of your family.” Dogs Trust


“More than a third of people in a recent Blue Cross survey described their first pet as a best friend. Pets make us laugh, cheer us up when we’re feeling at our worse or are unwell and they are a non-judgemental shoulder to cry on. They never share our secrets and bring us comfort when we need it the most. Pets can become our soulmates without uttering a single word.” Blue Cross

“Children often form a deep bond with their pet; the love for their animals and positive experiences with pets creates lasting memories that many adults cherish. Children that have pets in their family often feel socially included – they love being able to discuss their pets with friends, teachers and family. And of course, no matter how their school day or friendships have gone, they’ve always got their faithful friend at home waiting to comfort or celebrate with them.” PDSA

“More than half of people surveyed said their first pet taught them unconditional love or the meaning of friendship. Studies show that having pets during childhood can improve levels of empathy in youngsters and help to build up confidence. Research has even shown that reading a story to a dog can improve a child’s literary skills. Indeed, pets can teach people of all ages about responsibility and kindness.” Blue Cross

“What began as a mutual-services contract between two very different species became something much more like love. None of that makes a lick of sense, but it doesn’t have to. Love rarely touches the reasoning parts of the brain. It touches the dreamy parts, the devoted parts—it touches the parts we sometimes call the heart. For many thousands of years, it’s there that our dogs have lived.” Jeffrey Kluger, Why Dogs and Humans Love Each Other More Than Anyone Else

The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award takes place at Crufts each year. It celebrates the unique relationship people have with their dogs, the important role human’s best friend plays throughout our lives and the support they give us in the face of adversity. This year’s shortlist (who are all winners in our eyes) are:

You can view their amazing, heart-warming stories here >>


“Pets get us out exploring the world with them and can even act as icebreakers that encourage us to meet new friends when we’re out and about; almost a quarter of pet owners recently surveyed by Blue Cross said they had met somebody through their four-legged friend.” Blue Cross

“Pet ownership can also help you build better connections within your community. A 2015 study found that pet owners were more likely than non-pet owners to get to know local people. A new dog could bring you a wider circle of friends and more happiness.” Dogs Trust

“Pets also provide company to ease loneliness and encourage social interactions between people – if you walk with a dog in a park, you’ll know how often other dog owners stop and talk to you. Dogs, then, are often mediators of social contact, which is a vital function in a society where people increasingly live alone.” Robert John Young, Professor of Wildlife Conservation, University of Salford


“There's no motivation quite like someone you love needing you to step up to the challenge! Dogs need walking every day, which means you need to walk as well. When the weather is wet and cold, most of us would prefer to sit in front of the fire with a cup of tea and a good programme on TV. It's all too easy not to bother, but those puppy dog eyes and waggy tails won't let you off the hook – just what you need to kick start a healthy lifestyle!” PDSA

“Getting active with your pet can make you feel good. It may also help provide longer-term health benefits. A 2019 study found that dog ownership was associated with a longer life, especially among heart attack and stroke survivors.” Dogs Trust

“Pets are care-free and live life to the full, so can be the ultimate role models for humans. They may also be more effective at motivating people to achieve their healthy living and wellbeing goals than celebrity workout videos and social media fitness experts, Blue Cross research has shown. Indeed, pets only drink water, exercise every day, sleep well and – with responsible owners – they usually eat a healthy diet. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed by Blue Cross agreed that their pets would inspire them to achieve their healthy living ambitions.” Blue Cross

“The physical and mental health benefits of pets – and especially dogs – are well known. With recent research showing that a lack of exercise was a higher risk factor for health than obesity, dogs may be one way to encourage all-important physical activity. Taking advantage of the physical and psychological benefits that pet ownership brings is estimated to reduce UK healthcare costs by £1 billion, according to data published by the Society of Companion Animal Studies.” Robert John Young, Professor of Wildlife Conservation, University of Salford


“Our pets can be an absolute lifeline for us, they not only provide companionship and add structure to our day. They are comforting, entertaining and loving which helps to reduce our anxiety as we focus on them.” PDSA

“My pets are part and parcel of our family routine and also support me in my daily happiness. I find going for walks easier to do because of my dogs. Research shows that dogs motivate their human companions to be more active and in turn, both dog and human have a shared pleasurable experience that boosts their happiness. Studies have found that family pets provide many benefits towards health and happiness, as they not only provide companionship but also reduce incidents of depression and anxiety while helping to boost our happiness and self-esteem levels.” Lowri Dowthwaite-Walsh, Senior Lecturer in Psychological Interventions, University of Central Lancashire

“The strength of the human animal bond has been known for a long time, but scientific evidence about how it works was first published only about 30 years ago when a psychologist, Alan Beck of Purdue University, and a psychiatrist, Aaron Katcher of the University of Pennsylvania, actually measured what happens physically when a person pets a friendly and familiar dog. They found that the person's blood pressure lowered, heart rate slowed, breathing became more regular and muscle tension relaxed-all of which are signs of reduced stress. Furthermore, a study published recently in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine not only confirmed these effects but showed changes in blood chemistry demonstrating reduced amounts of stress related hormones. These positive psychological effects work a lot faster than many drugs taken for stress, since all of these effects occurred after only five to 24 minutes of pleasantly interacting with the dog.” Stanley Coren PhD, DSc, FRSC

Is your dog a Burgess dog? Your cat a Burgess cat? Your small pets Burgess small pets? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards.

CARE MORE Find lots of useful advice on caring for all your pets from Burgess, the pet experts. Training, nutrition, grooming and general care. It's all here >>

Something tasty for every dog

Every dog deserves a first-class dinner. Burgess Pet Care is a British, family-owned company and all our dog foods are made in our own factory in the heart of Yorkshire. We use premium ingredients to ensure excellent quality and superior taste to help keep your dog happy and healthy – from puppy, to adult and senior.

We’ve also developed foods to meet the specific nutritional needs of sporting and working dogsGreyhounds and Lurchers and dogs with sensitivities. And we’re very proud of our Paul O'Grady's 'No Nasties' dog food range.

All Burgess dog food is a complete food. This means, whatever variety you choose for your dog, it will contain all the nutrients they need in the correct balance. By choosing Burgess dog food, you know you can feed your canine companion with complete confidence.

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SHOW YOUR PETS THE LOVE Make a pledge to your dog, cat, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, hamster, degus, gerbils, rats or mice that you’re going to be the best pet owner you can possibly be.

REMEMBERING ANIMAL HEROES In wartime, the British, Commonwealth and Allied forces enlisted many millions of animals to serve alongside their armies. Between 1943 and 1949, 54 animals received the PDSA Dickin Medal – recognised worldwide as the animals’ Victoria Cross – including 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, 3 horses and 1 cat.

A PET BY ANY OTHER NAME Want just YOUR dog to come when you call them? When it comes to the pet naming game, choose wisely...

JOBS THAT ONLY DOGS CAN DO From jobs that require incredible bravery and loyalty, to some more unusual canine occupations, there are certain jobs that, if you want them done properly, you need to enlist the services of a dog.

THE BEST BREED OF DOG IS RESCUE Rescuing a dog can be an incredibly rewarding experience – both for you and the happy hound who has been given a second chance. However, before you start your search for that special canine to share your life with, there are important things to consider – including where NOT to get your new dog from.

THE FAMILY DOG – MAKING IT WORK FOR PETS AND CHILDREN Dogs and children can be best friends. However, it’s vital that parents teach children how to stay safe around canines – to protect both child and dog.

COULD YOU ADOPT A RABBIT? Whether you’re a first-time bunny owner or want to adopt a new bunny chum for your existing rabbit gang, rabbit rescues across the country would love to hear from you.

THE GREYHOUND AND LURCHER TWO WEEK TAKEOVER Greyhounds and Lurchers make fantastic family pets – as long as you understand what makes them tick and can give them all the love, kindness and patience they need to thrive.

SMALL FURRIES NEED A SECOND CHANCE TOO As well as taking on a rescue dog or adopting a cat from an animal sanctuary, did you know that there are lots of small furries in rescue centres around the country that are looking for loving homes?

ARE YOU AND YOUR DOG GOOD SPORTS? One of the many things that canines and humans have in common is that we both benefit from physical activity. While going for a long country walk is one way to do it, there is nothing like a fun, teamworking activity to keep your dog fit, mentally stimulated and to build that special bond between you.

WHERE CAN I WALK MY DOG? If you’ve got a canine chum, being out and about is always double the fun. We take a look at some of the best places around the country to walk the dog – from seaside saunters and rambles in the forest, to ambles around stylish country estates. 

PET INSURANCE EXPLAINED Cat insurance, dog insurance, rabbit insurance – what pets can get cover? Can you get pet insurance for pre-existing conditions? Can you get pet insurance for older pets? Can you get multi-pet cover? We answer some of the most commonly asked questions to help you make an informed decision about pet insurance.

KEEP CALM AND CALL THE VET If your much-loved pet suddenly became unwell or suffered an injury, would you know what to do? What symptoms should you look out for that suggest the situation is serious? When should you call the vet? 

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