This summer feels particularly special because so many of the events we love have made a comeback.

The county shows have returned, as have music festivals, garden parties, fetes – and my personal favourite, Suffolk Dog Day is coming up on July 31.

With that very much in mind, I’m following last week’s column on loneliness with some thoughts on the benefits of owning a dog. I do know cats and other animals are vitally important to many of you too, but will write about them another time.

There’s lots of research about the way pets of all kinds protect our wellbeing, however dogs get the major share of the attention. And I think the reason for that is they not only provide wonderful companionship but are so very versatile in everything else they offer.

Their impact on our physical health is well-documented. For example, in 2019, the journal of the American Heart Association published a review of studies conducted in six countries over a period of some 70 years which concluded that dog owners are 24% less likely to die of anything compared with those without canine company.

And that figure goes up to 31% in adults who have had a stroke or heart attack.

There are plenty of studies too on the social and psychological support we garner from them.

Last year, I published a novel called So Many Ways of Loving, in which I made a miniature schnauzer a central character and the saviour of a widow who was struggling with grief.

This was based on a mixture of real case histories and that’s probably why it had the ring of truth, and also why an unprecedented number of readers got in touch to share their stories of the power of their pooch.

In my broadcasting career too, I’ve often witnessed how amazing dogs can be. Back in 1979, on my Anglia TV feature Round Robin, we raised serious money by asking our viewers to donate Green Shield stamps, which in those days clogged up kitchen drawers throughout the nation.

As a result, we were able to sponsor 12 guide dogs. And we worked with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association over two years, to film a litter of puppies from birth to qualification and their new career with their blind owners.

It was such a special project and I’ve been a huge admirer of the organisation ever since. I’ve also made films about Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and various other support dogs including those working for Pets for Therapy.

As you probably know, this is a charity who bring joy and solace to many by taking animals into hospitals, schools and hospices. They celebrate their 40th birthday next year.

To come back to Suffolk Dog Day, I’m sure there will be a considerable influx of people driving across the Suffolk boundary from Essex, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, joining those of us who live in the county at this popular occasion.

And what they’ll find when they get there is a marvellous mix of fun competitions to find the dog with the waggiest tale or the canine in the best fancy dress.

There’ll also be demonstrations featuring police dogs, drug detection dogs and the Lowestoft Dog Agility Display Team as well as a host of other activities and attractions. And while we’re all having a great time, we’ll be raising money – hopefully something in the region of £60,000 – every penny of which will go to local charities.

This year there’s also a Health and Wellbeing theme as we celebrate what our four-legged friends have done for us through the pandemic – and the focus of that will be in the Pound Gates Happiness Hub where you’ll be able to seek support or offer it. The three charities sharing that space will be:

1. The Rural Coffee Caravan which does so much to help people feel less isolated and lonely in country areas.

2. Our Special Friends. An organisation committed to breaking down the barriers which prevent people from benefiting from animal companionship. These include looking after animals while their owners deal with crises such as homelessness, or fleeing from domestic abuse, and also supporting dog owners who want to keep their pets but are frail and can no longer look after them properly.

For instance, OSP provide dog walkers for individuals who are unable to exercise their own animals. So, if you’re lacking in canine company and would like to volunteer to walk someone else’s dog, this is the place to come.

3. BSEVC. This charity offers community transport in Ipswich & Mid Suffolk, as well as a family carer support service, providing information, advice, counselling and social activity and carer groups, and also a telephone service, seven days a week for people aged 65+, anywhere in the county.

Suffolk Dog Day will be a heart-warming, funny, inspirational, companionable event which will benefit many local causes. Hopefully, it will see the biggest crowds yet. And if you turn up, you’ll find me commentating in the Helmingham Ring alongside my great friend, SCF head of public affairs, Tim Holder, so do come and say “hello”

Suffolk Dog Day is at Helmingham Hall on Sunday July 31