“Be a man and suck it up.”
“Boys don’t cry.”
“Man up, bro.”
How many times have boys and men heard these types of phrases throughout their lives? Society has long taught men to suppress their emotions, so it’s no wonder that men experience such high suicide rates and that many are so resistant to going to therapy or simply talking about their emotions with their friends.
One man from the UK, however, has found a simple, yet novel idea to get men to open up about their feelings: get a dog involved.
It all started when Rob Osman, who has struggled for most of his life with mental health issues like anxiety, went for a walk with his Vizsla named Mali. He realized that even when he didn’t want to go outside, that didn’t stop Mali from needing the fresh air and exercise. She became his motivation to keep getting out of the house, and when he was outside with her, he realized that he immediately felt more relaxed and at-ease.
Rob realized that this type of activity could have the same impact on other men, lowering their walls and helping them feel more comfortable talking about the deeper issues in their lives that were affecting their mental health. So he started “Dudes & Dogs” — a community initiative that aims to get men out of the house for a group dog walk to encourage them to talk with other men about what they’re going through.
The effort is in its infancy, and so far, there’s just one big dedicated group for walks. But Rob is hoping to expand the initiative throughout the UK and possibly the world! The walks are free to join, making it even easier for men in need to access a group of other men who are willing to talk and listen.
We love this idea, and if you do too, make sure you check out the Dudes & Dogs website to learn more!