Rob Osman from Bristol in the United Kingdom has dealt with depression and anxiety for his entire life. But throughout the difficult times, there was always one thing that helped - walking his dog.
Realizing the huge benefits that animals and getting out into nature can bring, Osman decided to set up Dudes & Dogs to help other men going through the same thing. Their goal? "To get men out in the fresh air together for a walk and talk."
On the group's website, Osman explains his own battle with depression and how walking his dog helped.
"I think I can consider myself one of the lucky ones in life. I had a good upbringing, fit and healthy, got an amazing family. I guess I fit into the ‘big jolly guy’ category. I hope I do, that’s nice. But yet, I’ve suffered a bit too. I broke my back which put paid to my hopes of playing at a decent level of cricket. I then had to have an operation a few years later when I thought everything was getting better and was reduced to living in my sisters windowless basement smoking far too much weed to care."
"But yet, I’ve suffered a bit too. I broke my back which put paid to my hopes of playing at a decent level of cricket. I then had to have an operation a few years later when I thought everything was getting better and was reduced to living in my sisters windowless basement smoking far too much weed to care."
"I lost my dad in my 20’s. Not that unusual, but still something that can have a massive effect on my mood. The bit that very few know about; I’ve suffered with social anxiety since the age of about 10. When I was younger it manifested in basically throwing my guts up in pretty much any social situation, especially where girls were involved."
Osman goes on to explain how getting a dog helped with his mood, writing: "Picture the scene. It’s one of those horrible wet and windy c****y cold days that we do so well in the UK. There’s no way in hell I want to go out in this, especially not the way I’m feeling."
"But there’s the dog, she doesn’t care that I feel like crap today. She doesn’t care that the weather is rubbish, she just wants to get out and play. With me. Really? Yes really. And you know what, it’s been the best therapy I’ve ever had."
He went on to explain why he set up Dudes and Dogs, writing: "I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do something to help people, just never quite sure what. I started to get a good idea of what it was and decided the place to start was a psychology and counselling degree with the Open University."
"In the meantime I’ve been looking to see where else I could help, through talk groups and charities, but I also started thinking about what had helped me hugely, and that was the fresh air and getting out with my dog, the good it does me is for another time."
"But when I was reaching out to others, part of my message always said, come on a dog walk and it reaffirmed what I already knew. This was a way I could help people. By giving them what I had. That time out, that time away, no signal, no noise but nature, just time."
Dudes & Dogs seems to be working, with plenty of men taking Osman up on his offer.
"The whole concept of dudes & dogs is fantastic," one regular wrote. "I am having a pretty c**p time of it lately and meeting Rob and the dudes is gonna be a massive help and I must admit to a couple of blossoming bromances which is awesome. Can’t recommend this highly enough."
While another added: "I joined the trial walk on Saturday morning and if the trial is anything to go by, I can confirm that a Dudes & Dogs Walk takes you to good places, both physically and mentally."