‘Walkies’ have taken on a whole new meaning during lockdown...

Willie Runte, a photographer based in Gledhow, Leeds, has created a fun and fabulous portfolio of photographs focusing on how dogs have been fundamental in keeping many of us sane during lockdown.

Willie says: ‘It’s been proven that having a dog improves your mental health and boosts your physical activity. Mine, Suki, has definitely helped keep me happy. I started the project when lockdown began where I shot portraits of dog walkers while walking her in Gledhow Valley Woods.’

‘I didn’t expect many people would be interested but they kept saying yes and I now have dozens with the collection growing every day. It was also a great way of getting to know people who, before the pandemic, I crossed paths with every day but did not talk to.

‘Some of the people I met were living alone and their dog was their only companion, so they were extra grateful during this period. I also met people who were borrowing dogs to go for a walk and people completely in love with their own dogs who vouch for them being the best cure for sadness. Another aim of this project is to encourage people to adopt dogs by demonstrating the benefits to mental health a dog can bring. Just look at how happy everyone looks!’

Here are some of our favourites but you can see all of Willie’s portraits on his Instagram page @willierunte and his website willierunte.com