TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson with her pooches Nessie and Leo
They might be a man’s best friend, but dogs can also be the companion of a lifetime for women — according to Ulrika Jonsson anyhow.
Having recently finalised her third divorce, the TV presenter has revealed that it was her English bulldogs Nessie, eight, and puppy Leo who helped her keep going when she found herself in the grip of depression after her 11-year marriage ended.
‘Because dogs give so unconditionally, I’ve always had a soft side for them,’ she said. ‘My dogs are always by my side — they’ve seen all the highs and lows.
‘They’re amazing company. I suffer from depression, and what dawned on me after a few years of having them is that I might not be here today if I didn’t have those dogs.’
She added that although she can’t envisage having another man in her life, any future partner would ‘have to be a dog person’. It seems she’s not alone.
Here, four happily single dog-loving women say they would choose their precious pooch over a man every time…
MEN FIND IT ALARMING I SPOON MY DOG IN BED
Jackie Frith, 50, is a spiritual life coach and reiki master. She lives with her 13-year-old westie, Charlie, in Sheffield
Jackie Frith, 50, is a spiritual life coach and reiki master. She lives with her 13-year-old westie, Charlie, in Sheffield.
Dogs don’t care if my hair and make-up isn’t done. They don’t take up as much room in bed and I’m never waiting around to see if a dog texts me.
Although it would be good to have a man around so he could look after Charlie when I’m away.
I’ve always loved dogs but Charlie is my absolute world. I got him as a puppy and he’s such a character.
He likes to know where I am at all times. He sits by my desk while I’m working, sleeps in my bedroom and even follows me to the bathroom.
He’s got arthritis so I’ve put little steps next to my bed so he can climb up and nestle next to me. He even comes under the covers and we’ll lie like spoons.
I know for a fact this has put men off dating me. I went on a couple of dates with one guy a few years ago and as soon as he found out that Charlie slept in my room, you could see in his eyes that he found it alarming.
We dated for a while but I ended it; he kept his dogs outside the whole time, so that’s not the kind of man I would want to be with anyway. Another man was put off by the fact Charlie jumped up onto us when we were in bed together.
But I’m not about to kick my dog out and shut the bedroom door in his howling face. So that man had to go, too.
I’ve only had one major relationship in my life and that was for five years starting in my late teens. Since then I’ve just had lots of short relationships. Some people ask why I’ve never married and if I feel like I’m missing out, but that really niggles me.
Why should everyone conform to the ‘marriage and 2.4 children’ model? I’m happy with Charlie.
Of course, there are some times where I think it would be nice to be with someone — and Charlie won’t be around for ever — but I’m happy as I am. Dating is just too much hassle.
LOVE FOR MY ‘BABY’ ENDED RELATIONSHIP
Sarah Marles, 46, from the Wirral, runs a dog walking company and lives with children, Issy, five, Issac, six, and their dog Elsa, a seven-year-old pointer cross breed
Sarah Marles, 46, from the Wirral, runs a dog walking company and lives with children, Issy, five, Issac, six, and their dog Elsa, a seven-year-old pointer cross breed.
There’s nothing a man can do a dog can’t. Well, apart from the obvious…and putting up a gazebo. But that’s about it.
Dogs don’t give you any hassle. They never argue and they’re always happy to see you.
You never feel lonely when you have a dog. Yes, they take up bed space, but I feel protected by them.
There’s none of the aggravation that comes with a man.
The main thing for me though is loyalty. Unlike men, dogs will never let you down.
Though I got my first dog, Cola, aged 11, it was my second, Bebe — a gentle American bulldog cross breed from a rescue centre — who really cemented my love for dogs.
I got her in my late 20s with a man I was engaged to, and when the relationship ended, Bebe was the only thing I took with me.
Bebe was my baby, and the love of my life. We had a real connection, and my feelings for her didn’t diminish even when I had children with my next partner, who was a farmer.
Sarah (pictured with her dog Elsa) said: ‘There’s nothing a man can do a dog can’t. Well, apart from the obvious…and putting up a gazebo. But that’s about it’
He had dogs, too, but we had very different attitudes towards our pets. His sheepdogs slept outside, while Bebe used to sleep in bed.
I often wondered if he was jealous of her, and when we broke up in 2015 she did have a lot to do with it.
We had completely differing views about the way I wanted to treat her in her old age.
Once it was just me, the kids and Bebe, I finally felt in control of my life. I started a dog walking business, PAWS, and was able to care for Bebe the way I wanted.
My children adored her, and when she died I felt as if I’d lost a family member. Now I don’t want to go back down the path of having a partner.
I got Elsa, another rescue dog, and she’s always with me. My clients call me Mrs PAWS because it’s as if I’m married to my dogs.
I have been asked out a couple of times, but I always politely say, ‘No thanks’.
I enjoy having the freedom to make my own decisions, and while I don’t mind looking after kids and dogs, I can’t bear to look after a grown man, too. Some of my friends agree with me; others think it’s a waste and I’ll change my mind.
I see myself surrounded by dogs well into old age. They’ll always give me unconditional love — what man can promise that?
I HAD AN EXTENSION SO SHE HAD OWN ROOM
Helen Turier, 53, from West Sussex, is a reflexologist and wellbeing coach
Helen Turier, 53, from West Sussex, is a reflexologist and wellbeing coach. She has three children, Josh, 25, and twins Victoria and Georgina, 23, and lives with her dog Glinda, 12, a cocker spaniel.
I’ve heard it said that we choose our dogs more wisely than our partners, and Glinda is loyal and devoted in a way no man I know has ever been.
She always has my back — which isn’t always the case with men, no matter what they might say.
I got Glinda a few months after my dad died. I was a single parent and he’d been the male figure in my kids’ lives, helping with childcare and school pick-ups.
We were all grieving and his sudden death helped me realise that life is short. I hoped having a dog would give us something to focus on and help us to live in the moment.
As it turned out, Glinda chose me rather than the other way around. She was from a litter of local pups, and instantly glued herself to my side. She’s been like that ever since.
She comes on holidays with us, often dictates what we do on days out, and we even had a utility room built at the back of our cottage just for her to sleep in.
Having a dog is about 100 per cent commitment, on both sides. Glinda is easy to be around, adaptable and knows when no means no — not something men always understand!
She’s happy for me to be the boss, but equally I trust her instincts and her opinion counts.
I went on a few dates in the past, but when Glinda was uncharacteristically clingy and anxious around one man, I didn’t take it any further. I’ve now given up on dating altogether. Anyone I have a relationship with would have to accept her and meet her approval, because I’d pick her over a man any day.
Glinda is 12 now, and has had a few health scares. I don’t even want to think about what a world without her would look like. When she dies, I know it will be as bad as losing a human companion.
For now, every day I have with her is a blessing. She’s definitely my longest and best relationship.
DOGS WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN
Nicola Boldy, 42, is a community learning disability nurse. She lives with daughter Mya, eight, and one-year-old Theo, a Lhasa Apso, in Bradford, West Yorks
Nicola Boldy, 42, is a community learning disability nurse. She lives with daughter Mya, eight, and one-year-old Theo, a Lhasa Apso, in Bradford, West Yorks.
Dogs are so much more reliable than a man — they will never let you down. After splitting from my partner of nine years in 2016, I tried meeting someone else and went on nights out with friends, but I discovered that the men on the dating scene are either too old, too young or just want a bit of fun rather than a relationship.
I don’t want to be messed around. I have difficulty trusting men now and have got to the point where I’m happy just as I am.
I’ve always loved dogs. You are their world and they will be there for you no matter what.
I’d always promised my daughter I’d get a dog one day, so last year I bought Theo.
He’s like my little shadow, following me everywhere I go.
He is always happy to see me and will never argue with me — I’ve had enough of falling out over the years, and I never want to fight with a man again.
I’d always thought I wanted another child but Theo is better than a baby because he lets me have a lie in! I admit I’ve become quite selfish with my own space since splitting up with my partner and I’m not sure I could face sharing my house — let alone my bed — with a man again.
I won’t even let Theo sleep on the bed.
I’d never say never to another relationship but the perfect man would have to love Theo and I’d also prefer him to live in his own home rather than with me.
I’ve never really been single since my teens and although I have some male friends, Theo is the only man I need in the house.
It took us a while to bond, as he was a bit of a giddy puppy and is still a little jealous of my relationship with Mya (he always wants to play with her toys rather than his own).
But she loves him to bits and we’re now a happy threesome.
PARTNER SAID IT WAS HIM OR THE DOGS; I CHOSE THE DOGS
Niomi Carroll, 48, from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, rehomes strays and lives with her daughter, Jaimi, 29, and six dogs: Regan, a seven-month-old Tibetan Mastiff; Winkle, a 14-month-old bulldog; Kahn, two-and-a-half, a Great Dane-mastiff cross; Tallulah, four, a Bloodhound cross; mongrel Mencho, eight; and Dodger, 15, an Aylestone Bulldog
Niomi Carroll, 48, from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, rehomes strays and lives with her daughter, Jaimi, 29, and six dogs
My last relationship ended two years ago, when my partner gave me an ultimatum. It was either him or my dogs… and I chose the dogs. Since then, I’ve been happily single, and I plan to stay that way. I’m not interested in romance and I don’t need to bother with dating; my ‘boys’ are my life.
Growing up, I was always surrounded by animals. Mum and Dad used to rescue everything from stray dogs to horses. Once they even brought home a crocodile from a London market. So it’s no surprise that since my twenties I’ve always had a little pack of my own. I also rehome mistreated strays from countries such as Turkey and Bulgaria. My kids, Jaimi and Alfie, 24, have grown up around them, and regularly joke that I love dogs more than them.
While that’s not true, I definitely get more love from my dogs than I’ve ever had from a man. They’re always there for me. When my longest relationship, with my children’s father, ended, my boys looked after me during an incredibly bad time. They gave me a reason to keep going. I get so much enjoyment from them, and talk to them constantly – and they don’t moan about household chores.
Being pestered by a man in bed? No thanks – I’d rather sleep surrounded by dogs. Every morning we have cuddles and they’re always pleased to see me. You wouldn’t get that from a man.
I agree life would be easier without animals – I worry about them if I have to go away and Winkle often trashes the house. But they give me incredible peace of mind.
Of course, I’ve been asked out on dates, but I explain I’m dedicating my life to my dogs. I don’t think it’s that unusual – I have several friends in their forties who’ve ‘been there, done that’ with men and feel the same way.
For me to enter another relationship, it would take someone very special, who had dogs of their own and treated theirs and mine like children rather than animals. But I don’t think that person exists – no one could love my dogs as much as I do. They’re all I need to be happy.