Trina Lyon walks J-dog (left) and Bruno at Tonga Park in
Dunedin yesterday while being filmed by Dr Cath Smith.
Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A University of Otago study that films dog walkers with
chronic health conditions, starting in Dunedin today, hopes to
reveal how exercising a four-legged furry friend affects
School of Physiotherapy associate dean Dr Cath Smith said a
previous research project on men with multiple sclerosis
revealed many of them would not exercise at all if they did
not own a dog which required regular walking.
''That is what sparked my initial interest. I thought maybe
dogs are a unique support system for helping people with
She had previously interviewed people about their dog-walking
experiences but discovered most people focused on the
benefits, so she set out to film, with a helmet camera, up to
16 people with chronic conditions to capture the whole
experience, both positive and negative, to reveal the
benefits and stresses of walking a dog. She had recruited
five people and needed 11 more.
''We are still recruiting people with anything from
depression to diabetes and heart disease. We are trying to
recruit a range of conditions.''
The research would start today with the filming of Trina Lyon
walking her two dogs on Middle Beach.
Miss Lyon, of Dunedin, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis
in 2011 and owns two dogs, Bruno and J-dog.
The dogs made her feel less self-conscious about the
staggering and falling associated with her condition.
''When I'm walking with them, nobody's looking at me and
thinks I'm drunk at 8.30am because they are all looking at
Bruno, asking if he is a horse,'' Miss Lyon said.
Anyone wanting to take part in the study can contact Dr Smith