Dogs are too damn precious for this world, and understandably steal the show wherever they roam. Case in point, James Middleton brought his dog to the GQ Awards last night and demonstrated the strong bonds an owner can share with their furry companion. And Ella, the cocker spaniel, is even more special as she is Middleton's therapy dog and was at the awards to support him and also bring awareness to the UK charity Pets As Therapy, as Popsugar reports, who provide support and therapy to those who need it across the country.
"I think I should win the award for the best date for the GQ Men of the Year Awards," Middleton captioned a post of him and his pup on Instagram. If you happen to follow the entrepreneur's account, you'll be pretty familiar with Ella and her pup siblings that include Zulu, Inka, Luna, and Mabel. In December 2018, he gave Ella some well-deserved spotlight when she first became a PAT dog.
Ella now works alongside dozens of other PAT dogs who help "enhance [the] health and wellbeing in the community through visits of trusted volunteers with their behaviourally assessed animals" by visiting and supporting people "in hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues all across the UK," as the charity notes on their site.
"Animals can provide a sense of calm, comfort, or safety and divert attention away from a stressful situation and toward one that provides pleasure," he captioned the post. "Advocates of animal-assisted therapy say that developing a bond with an animal can help people develop a better sense of self-worth and trust, stabilise their emotions, and improve their communication, self-regulation, and socialisation skills."
Middleton has spoken very candidly about the love and appreciation he has for his dogs, most recently during an interview with the Evening Standard last month at the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Here he discussed his admiration of them, and how they've helped him immensely with his mental health.
"Fundamentally inside me I know how much the dogs helped me. I find it easier talking to the dogs than I sometimes do to humans," he explained. "With just putting dogs in the right places in hospitals and mental health centres, you really break through because people just chat about the dog, and you have conversations."
"I know it can work — so Ella came to all my therapy sessions with me and that's why I'm so supportive of it and I want to do more myself."
Middleton wants to spread as much awareness as he can about making mental health a "part of everyday conversation, the same way that if I said 'I have hayfever' it would be a normal discussion." Dogs being the catalyst for this sort of discussion, along with the immense bond and friendship you can share with a pup, is an added bonus. "Mental health should be as easy to talk about as that, as opposed to it being this behind-closed-doors type of conversation."