"I've always been an animal lover. I used to spend lots of my childhood talking to the cows at the farm. I know that sounds stupid. But yes, talking to cows. If a bird ever crashed into the window I was that kid who used to try and rescue it and bring it back to life. Yes, I've always been an animal lover. And I've always had pets, too. We’ve always had farm dogs and farm cats. I’ve always been around animals and I can't really imagine a life that’s any different to be honest."
We couldn't agree more. There's something so special about sharing your life with a family dog, but we must admit, they can be rather naughty at times, and Helen's dogs are no exception.
"About a month ago, my dog ate one of the kids toys and ended up having to have an operation so that was pretty naughty. It was just a little ball which you would think, being quite a big dog he would pass but he didn't. So that was obviously a bit stressful."
Helen's top tips for adopting a dog
Helen is a huge advocate for adopt don't shop, but what sort of things should a new dog owner look out for when looking to add a dog to their family?
"Before getting a dog, you need to think about what you like doing and get a dog that fits in with that, if that makes sense. So if you like long distance walks, get a dog that needs a lot of exercise. I think a greyhound is a great dog, because they want a big walk. And then that's it. So I’d advise to get a dog that will fit around what you want to do."
Dog training is also a vital part of having a good relationship with your canine companion and group training sessions are a great idea for socialising your dog.
"It’s important to start dog training straight away. I endeavoured to train mine with a mix of things like puppy classes, group sessions which are really easy to get involved with. Our last dog, Spider Man actually came from a breeder so he did a lot of training before he came to us."
Mum-of-three Helen also has to juggle looking after her dog with looking after three young children too, so how do the kids get on with their pet?
"My kids just love the dog. Every night we have to tuck him into bed. He’s like another baby in our house. They so get upset when he runs off with their toys and stuff though. The football is a bit of an issue."
Here at Yours, we all love our pets, but why is it that Helen thinks we're such a nation of dog lovers?
"I just think the companionship is what people like and rightly so. What's great about having a dog is that you come home from a long day and they're always happy to see you. I know that sounds very self indulgent and needy, but they're excited to see you and they want to be around you. I also think we're very blessed in this country that we've got so many places to walk the dogs near us. So I definitely think we're very lucky in terms of what we have to spoil them with for sure."
Helen's favourite dog walks in the UK
Speaking of the stunning walks the UK has to offer, we asked Helen what some of her favourite dog-walking routes are. Dog walking bags at the ready people!
"Ullswater way is definitely a good one. It’s up in Cumbria where I'm from. There’s also a really good coastal path along the Yorkshire coast. So along, sort of Whitby to Sands End. Jurassic Coast is also great as is Dartmoor.
How her dogs have helped Helen's mental health over the years
We know that there are so many benefits of having a dog. Our dogs have helped us through some very difficult periods of life, and Helen has found her dogs have been there for her when she was going through a tough time too.
"I've always found having a dog is really grounding. You've got to go out for a walk, you've got to do different things, you've got to invest in them and I think there's something very leveling about that. I really struggled to settle into London until I had a dog and then when I did have a dog, I found it a lot easier to settle.
"I moved to London, I didn't know anyone, I didn't have any friendship circles or any sort of life to slot into. I found that my dog Barney really helped me with getting into a routine. He gave me structure and purpose, so I feel pretty lucky to be honest that I've always got on with dogs because not everybody wants a dog or can have a dog."
Helen Skelton is working with Petplan, the UK’s no.1 pet insurer on its 2022 Pet Awards, encouraging pet owners to nominate their furry friends for an award to celebrate their exceptional personalities. Visit petplan.co.uk/pet-information/blog/pet-awards/ to find out more. Nominations are open until August 7, 2022.