A PERSONAL dog-sitting service based in Penmaenmawr is aiming to help tackle loneliness in North Wales.

Barking Mad Conwy Bangor & Anglesey say they provide "the best alternative to traditional dog kennels" in those three areas.

On top of that, the group is now offering people the chance to build relationships with furry friends in order to tackle isolation.

As a former nurse who now works from home, Barking Mad Conwy Bangor & Anglesey owner Karen Wright says she knows the isolation that a situation like that can bring.

"As a nurse I was used to working and interacting with large numbers of people on a daily basis but now that I work from home I meet less people," she said.

"While being self-employed has advantages, working alone and not having the physical presence of a team to support you, can lead to loneliness that can’t be fixed by any kind of app.

"Caring for a friendly dog not only provides cuddles but also the motivation to get out and take a walk, increasing the likelihood of meeting other people."

For those who are retired or work from home and spend a lot of time alone, caring for a canine companion on a temporary basis and meeting other like-minded dog lovers could potentially help them overcome feelings of isolation.

The perception of loneliness as mainly an issue for the older generation is now proving inaccurate, as a study from the Office for National Statistics suggests that young adults are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups.

Karen lives in Penamenmawr with her husband Andrew, and son Matthew. They have two dogs of their own; a very chilled out, friendly Labradoodle called Murphy and a comical and affectionate English Springer Spaniel named Poppy.

The dog-mad former nurse has lived in North Wales for over 20 years and spent her nursing career working at Llandudno Hospital's A&E department and Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital in Bangor before opting for a career change after 30 years in the field.

"I decided that a change was as good as a rest and took the plunge into starting my own dog care business," Karen said.

"I felt a professional home from home dog boarding service was much needed in North Wales and as I have always wanted to work with dogs, it all seemed to click into place.

"If you are a dog lover and would enjoy having doggy company without full time commitment, we would love to hear from you."

The community of Barking Mad host families mainly consists of active retired people but also includes those who either work from home or have extended periods away from work.

It offers the opportunity to care for vetted dogs in your own home, while their owners are away on holiday. Hosts experience all the benefits of dog companionship without any of the emotional or financial responsibilities of full- time pet ownership.

There is an added benefit in the form of arranged get togethers for Barking Mad Hosts where you can meet other dog lovers for a walk or chat over tea and cake.

To find out more about becoming a Barking Mad host, call 01248 800115 or visit www.barkingmad.uk.com/local/wales/conwy/