Why I'm a dog man
Model David Gandy, an ambassador for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, explains why he has a soft spot for man's best friend.
Being an ambassador for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, I shouldn't be biased, and in truth I adore all animals in all their environments. However, my love and admiration for dogs can and never will be denied. They’re my favourite creatures - and this from a person who has been within inches of gorillas, held baby orang-utans, swam with giant turtles and last year was a little too close for comfort to a pride of male lions.
Don’t get me wrong - I see the tremendous appeal of cats. They fend for themselves, they are not dependent on us, they clean themselves, feed themselves and take themselves for walks. And I do love them, but for me the dog still comes out top, by a whisker.
To me, cats are a little bit like that girl you fall for whom you really shouldn’t. You love them wholeheartedly yet somehow you're left a little flat as they don't show you the same affection in return. They turn up when they want to and then leave when they want to, They have dinner with you, but you know they are probably having dinner with two or three people that same evening. And when you buy them a gift, they bring you a dead mouse. OK perhaps not the last analogy, but I'm sure you know what I mean.
David Gandy with Cocobean / BDCH
At Battersea last year, I saw the worst case (and one of Battersea Dog's Home's worst cases) of neglect and cruelty that I have ever seen. A young Staffie bitch, almost a skeleton, was curled up with one of Battersea's wonderful volunteers in her kennel. She had been used as a breading machine, beaten, starved and then put in a suitcase and dumped in the local park.
She was actually sniffed out by another dog whose owners then investigated the whimpering sounds coming from the case. Staffies, more than many breeds, crave a human bond and contact, yet this little one had been so awfully treated by the people she had trusted, who could have blamed her for not feeling that way. However, we were astonished when, visiting this little Staffie with my mother and standing by her kennel to see her, she actually started wagging her tail. Although too weak to eat or walk, she tried with all her might to get up to come and greet us. If any dog had earned the right to be mistrusting of - or aggressive towards - humans, it was her. But instead, her desire for human companionship and love was overwhelming.
It's that sense of companionship with people, that need to please, that special bond, which makes them dogs truly man’s best friend, for me. Dogs are apparently the only animal that, like humans will turn their head to the left, when they are trying to understand or sympathise with us. Research has shown that having a dog as a pet can increase your life expectancy, lower your blood pressure and make you less likely to suffer from heart attacks.
When you stroke a dog the hormone oxytocin is released into your bloodstream. This is a chemical responsible for inducing feelings of love and trust, and the oxytocin spike is experienced by the dog as well, forming that deep emotional bond. Next time when you look into your dogs eyes and feel a little bit silly for experiencing such absolute love, just remember it's a natural, chemical reaction; an instinct that has been going on for hundreds of years.
Over the centuries, we have used dogs' natural abilities to help us in all aspects of life. We use dogs' intelligence and loyalty to guide the blind, their noses to sniff out bombs in wars, their endurance to pull us over treacherous freezing conditions. We use their sight and speed for hunting, and their strength for protection. Some say dogs may also have a sixth sense. Most people put this down to them having the ability to read our every minute movement. However, when I was young I always used to know when my grandparents were going to pop in unexpectedly as our spaniel used to sit by the front door 10 minutes before they arrived. At a young age I didn't think much of this, but now that memory astonishes me.
The world’s only international male supermodel, David Gandy, rose to fame as Dolce and Gabbana’s muse and face of their Light Blue fragrance. He was the only male model to take part in the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony and is an official ambassador for London Collections:Men. A regular, global magazine cover star and brand ambassador, he also writes for Vogue.com and reviews cars for GQ.com.
David Gandy is represented by Select Model Management