Man’s best friend makes for a great plus-one, according to James Middleton.
Duchess Kate’s younger brother, James, is being praised for taking his therapy dog as his “date” for a red carpet appearance in London on Tuesday. The 32-year-old bachelor has made headlines in recent months for opening up about his secret, longtime battle with depression, further advocating for mental health awareness and animal therapy.
On Sept. 3, James stepped out at the GQ Men of the Year Awards with an elegant lady on his arm — his black cocker spaniel, Ella.
“I think I should win the award for the best date for the GQ men of the year awards,” the businessman joked on Instagram.
All dressed up for the big night out, trained therapy dog Ella sported a “pet therapy” vest and kilt as she posed for the cameras, AOL reported.
Instagram users thanked James for seizing – and sharing – the spotlight with his special pup. One user described his “best date” as “a great way to bring attention to the fact that pets can help combat anxiety and depression.”
“Thank you SO much for this! It's very encouraging and inspiring to all of us with depression and anxiety…” another user commented. “Hopefully the stigma surrounding mental health can be lessened with education and examples of people like you speaking out.”
“Thank you for bringing awareness to mental health and how dogs can help,” one echoed. “My husband has PSTD and his service dog is truly incredible. The purest of hearts beat in the chest of a dog.”
In January, the duchess’ brother revealed his struggles with depression and anxiety for the first time in an op-ed for The Daily Mail, detailing how his dogs helped him out of the lowest depths of a “morass of despair.”
“I recognize, too, the role my dogs — Ella, Inca, Luna, Zulu and Mabel — have played in my recovery,” he wrote.
Today, James serves as an ambassador for U.K.-based charity Pets As Therapy, while Ella works as a certified therapy dog for the organization.