The benefits of pet ownership for health and wellbeing are well-documented, reducing loneliness and anxiety, lending daily structure, and lifting mood.

And that’s in normal circumstances, and this year has been far from normal with the coronavirus lockdown tough on many. But, according to new research, owning an animal companion boosted mental health and reduced feelings of loneliness. Pets proved a lifesaver for many, providing companionship, consistency, joy and helped to keep their owners active, demanding routine and daily walks, pandemic or not!

Natalie Bruce owner of NB Dogs has always been aware of the benefits of pet ownership. Natalie began working with dogs, running a professional dog walking business and volunteering for dog rescues, whilst her children were young. She says; “I had always loved and cared for animals but there was a point in my life where I realised just how much I needed dogs, and just how much dogs need us too. Although I loved my career in social care, I always came back to working with dogs.

From humble beginnings as a pop-up shop in Whynot? on North Berwick’s High Street (where it still has a presence), business quickly grew and Natalie opened East Lothian’s first dog boutique at its Fenton Barns location in June last year. Stocking premium dog products, training aids, bedding and natural dog foods, the inviting and calming space is tastefully decorated with rustic handmade furniture, potted plants, sheepskin and a comfy Chesterfield sofa to relax on. Natalie says; “Our mission is to create long-lasting relationships with each of our customers. We appreciate every visit, even if it’s a quick hello or you need some advice. There is never, ever any pressure to buy at NB Dogs and we are genuinely happy to just hang with you and your dog for a chat.

And with more than a fifth of UK households estimated to own at least one pet, it’s no surprise Natalie and her team are kept busy. So much so, that Gullane has become home to their third store – a new Dog Boutique with a Cat Corner too. “Gullane has felt like home to us for a long time. Our children attended primary school there and we’ve made many good friends over the years, both humans and dog! What we love most about Gullane is that there’s a real sense of community and we’re really lucky to be a part of that.” explains Natalie.

Which ever location you visit you’ll be sure of a warm welcome, good advice and a gorgeous array of premium products. Dogs of all shapes, sizes and temperaments are welcome (and their humans too).

Main St, Gullane
open: Tue to Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Unit 2, Fenton Barns Retail Village, North Berwick
open: Sat & Sun 11am-3pm
WhyNot? High Street, North Berwick
open: daily 10am-5.30pm