THE joy of dog ownership dominated many of the conversations at this year’s Easter Dogs Day Out at the Oak Tree Animals’ Charity.

Hundreds of people - many in the company of their dogs - turned out for the event at Wetheral Shields, near Carlisle, giving their pets a chance to make friends, test their agility, or just soak up the sunshine and fun.

“It’s all about dogs,” said event coordinator Mieke Tenant. “Everything you can see here is connected to dogs, raising awareness about them, and what we do.

“It’s also about how important it is to have a good relationship with your dog - and about fundraising.”

Like many people at the event, Mieke spoke of the huge psychological benefits of dog ownership. “You have a friend for life when you have a dog,” added Mieke, the proud owner of golden retrievers called Bunter and Teddy.

Oak Tree’s general manager Caroline Johnson agreed. “Having a dog is about companionship, and friendship,” said Caroline, who has a border collie called Sam, a springer cross called Rosie, and another dog called Poppy. “A dog really is a great friend - non-judgemental.

“You know you’re going home to somebody who’ll be pleased to see you.

“We are so grateful to all of our supporters; they’re amazing.

“People love to celebrate their dogs: they’re a part of life in the UK. And you’re never lonely when you have a dog; when you walk them, people always stop and talk to you.”

June Metcalfe, 67, from Morton Park, Carlisle, said her rescue dog Flick, a border collie, had helped her cope with depression. “He helps a lot,” she said. “He’s always up to something that makes me laugh. Any animal that you can hold or stroke is good for your mood. It’s therapeutic.”

Mary Peel and her daughter Emma were at the event with her 11-month-old border terrier Rosie. “Dogs can be so loving,” said Mary, from Broadwath. “We’ve had dogs all our lives. Events like this give your dog a chance to mix with other dogs.”

Emma said: “You get a lot back from dogs.”

It costs about £800,000 a year to run the Oak Tree Animals’ Charity, which rescues and rehomes dogs, cats and equines.

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