5 Experiences that shaped my career

I have learnt many things along my journey to this point, and I continue to learn all the time – not just new methods or other useful things that affect how we look after pets but life lessons. The things you cannot learn from a book or a course, but through life’s experiences and challenges (and a little bit of trial and error!) Here are my top five moments that have shaped my journey to where I am today.

1. Leaving my secure employment for the great unknown – making this decision was the single most difficult one I have had to make to date. I tried to juggle my employment with my new business for a while but that was never going to work, leaving meant I had nothing holding me back but a greater need to MAKE it work and prove to myself as well as others that I could. It was so scary, but I am so glad that I took the leap of faith and all the relentless working paid off. I have to mention that I would never have made this decision, or got back up after so many hurdles, without the support from my other half – he is my biggest cheerleader and always finds the positive to motivate and remind me why I do what I do.

2. Saying farewell to my first client – It is no exaggeration when I say that I was an emotional wreak when one of my first ever regular customers told me that they were relocating up North. Of course I was happy for them but it hit me hard, almost like grief. It was here that I realised that I really loved my job, and all the hard work was so worth it…it resonated with me that the pets we care for are more than just simply numbers or an income, they are an extension to our family and I hope that all of our clients past and present know this.

2. Completing my degree – This was important for two reasons, firstly whilst job hunting I found that I was either under-experienced for the jobs I aspired to do or over-qualified for so many of the available industry-related jobs. This was so frustrating and worrying for me but it is where I began to consider starting my own business! Secondly, it gave me the confidence and self-validation in an ever-growing and competitive industry to just go for it.

3. Finding the ‘right’ team members – When you start something from nothing, have fought so hard and put your all into it, it is then so difficult to trust someone to do the job to your standards and represent you. I am so fortunate to have found two people who love this work as much as I do and have the same ethos of going above and beyond for the benefit of our furry friends; I am so grateful for them everyday.

5. Letting a client go – We work with so many different types of people and pets and it is only natural that at some point or another you will find yourselves in a position where you know you’re no longer/or not the right fit for that person. This has only happened once, and it was certainly a tough a decision but I knew deep down it was the right one. This was a big lesson and one that I have definitely learnt and grown from.

DIY Halloween Dog Treats

Halloween is upon us and we want your dogs to be able to join in on all the fun, so we have found two fantastically freaky DIY Halloween recipes for you to try. No tricks, just yummy treats!

DIY Pumpkin FroYo Bites for Dogs
Picture and Recipe from:

Spooky Fro-Yo Bites:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup natural fat free yogurt
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Mix together until you have a runny consistency, and pour into a silicon ice cube tray. Freeze for 3-4 hours or overnight until firm. To make these snacks even more spooky-licious, use shaped molds.

Top tip: Allow these to sit at room temperature for up to 1 min before feeding, this will allow for the cold intensity to wear off and avoid any becoming stuck to your dogs tongue.

Homemade Halloween dog treats shaped like pumpkins
Picture and Recipe from:

Monsterous Munchy Biscuits:

  • 1 jar of pumpkin/squash baby food
  • 1/2 cup wholewheat flour
  • water (if needed, add 1 tsp at a time)
  • frozen peas

Preheat oven to 180C. Empty the baby food into a mixing bowl, and incrementally add flour, mixing into a firm dough. Add a tsp of water to loosen if required. Hand roll into small balls, place on a lined baking sheet, and flatten gently with your hand. To create “pumpkin lines”, press the flat side of a fork or knife gently in the center. Top with a green pea “stem” and gently push into the dough to secure. Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Cool before serving or storing.

Top Tip: You can use any orange coloured dog-safe food for this. Puree pumpkin or mashed butternut squash/sweet potatoes are a good option!

Full links:

Recycle for Hallswood Animal Sanctuary

Hallswood Animal Sanctuary, a local charity, have created a recycling program where by they can raise much needed funds to help save injured wildlife, poorly livestock and companion animals through things that would usually go in your household recycling or even landfill!

They have multiple drop-off points around Norwich, including Taverham Garden Centre, All Chapelfield Vet Branches and Companion Care Vets (Longwater & Sprowston Branches) to name a few.

There a number of things that you can recycle with them, but one of the main reasons that I wanted to bring this to your attention is that as pet owners and working with them daily, we use many food pouches that go straight into the bin once used. THIS CAN BE RECYCLED & RAISE FUNDS! It just seems so silly to put these in landfill when they could be used for so much good.

Keep a box handy and use it as a caddy for all of your empty clean sachets and pouches! Once full, drop it off at your local collection point or let us know.

I am therefore hoping that many of you will stop throwing these away and take them to local drop-off points, or even leave them for us to donate in bulk for you.

For the full extensive list of things you can recycle at these points and for all of the current drop off points, click HERE. If you have any questions feel free to ask me or Hallswood directly – they’ll be so grateful for your support!

Yellow Ribbon Campaign

Yellow Dog UK is a registered charity created to bring awareness to dogs who need space, this is a campaign close to my heart both personally and professionally.

There are many reasons why a dog may need space, and these could include:

  • have health issues or be recovering from surgery.
  • be a rescue dog being rehabilitated. The world can be a very scary place for these dogs.
  • be in training, and so needs to be focused without distractions.
  • have had a bad experience with another dog or is not the kind of friendly dog which always want to say “hello!”
  • be a bitch may be in heat.
  • be very old and arthritic.
  • be nervous or shy of other dogs which cause it stress.
Paddy modelling his ‘I am nervous’ yellow harness

If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon, bandana or similar on the lead or the dog, this indicates the dog needs some space. Please respect this and avoid both yourself and your dog approaching them – the amount of space they require will vary so work on the side of caution and give them some time to move out of the way. This makes all parties have a more relaxed and enjoyable walk. We work with dogs that come from many backgrounds that all benefit from the Yellow Ribbon; some are rescued, have lacked socialisation early on, or have had terrible encounters and so are nervous and possibly reactive now.

This includes my own dog Henry, he is a rescue and had not been well socialised. He is fine with those that he knows, or those I introduce him too, but is very unpredictable with approaching new dogs, and is wary of unfamiliar people. Unfortunately he has been targeted by a few ‘local’ dogs whom have all repeatedly tried to attack him – he is now very judgmental of dogs that look like those, the trauma has stuck. We work on his confidence daily and he has gotten so much better since we moved to a new area which is more remote, but still benefits from having a yellow ribbon when walking in busy place. We also had many run-ins with owners letting their large dogs run up to and try to initiate rough play with him whilst be was recovering from spinal surgery and on his yellow lead. Please bare in mind whilst you are out walking that not everyone wants to socialise and that we shouldn’t try to enforce this on someone, everyone has the right to walk their dog without fear.

I always come across people that have not heard of this campaign so either approach anyway with dogs off- or on-lead, or want to stop and discuss the campaign which isn’t always appropriate with certain dogs.

In short, if you see a dog with a Yellow Ribbon attached to its lead or wearing a yellow bandana/harness please recall your dog immediately and give this dog and its handler some space – it isn’t a lot to ask or hard to do but really makes all the difference and you will most definitely be greeted with a huge look of relief and thanks!

Please share this so that more people can be aware of this campaign!

5 Benefits of Hiring a Dog Walker/ Pet Sitter

Improving pet health: by using a dog walking service you are ensuring your dog receives regular scheduled exercise. This can be key to helping maintain body weight and condition, and can help loose excess weight that could lead to health deterioration.

Socialisation and mental stimulation: Keeping your dog healthy is more than just providing physical activity, socialising with their own kind is really important for their development and mental well being. We are able to facilitate socialisation with other friendly dogs and have seen the benefits this can have first hand. Dogs need to know how to greet and play appropriately and they can only master these skills through practice with other dogs.

Improved Pet Behaviour: many (but not all) undesirable behaviours are due to a lack of stimulation/a surplus of energy that does not have an appropriate outlet. Dogs that are regularly and adequately exercised tend to have less undesirable pet behaviours such as; excessive barking, pacing, mouthing and chewing.

Maintain, or Establish, a Routine: Having a walker can help establish a consistent routine around your work and other commitments. This might seem a little overkill, but this predictability creates a secure environment which is crucial for a happy and calm dog.

Peace of Mind: Things crop up, life happens, and unfortunately not all human events are dog friendly or appropriate for your furry +1, having a reliable pet carer to call upon provides you with a go-to person. You can enjoy these moments stress free knowing your dog is having companionship, as well as exercise, whilst you’re unavailable.

Why I Do What I Do

There are many reasons why I chose to, and continue to, work in the pet care industry but one of the biggest and most satisfying for me personally is the direct impact I can have with the owner and pet involved.

It is the rewarding nature of working closely with an owner and seeing a transformation that you could only have wished for, or offering continued open-minded guidance to a first time owner that makes all the difference in their confidence and thus their pets. All of this creates a relationship of being more than ‘just a dog walker’, and it’s these particular clients whom I develop a more special sort of relationship with, where I am more of an extension to their family.

I love getting postcard style messages from clients whilst they’re away on holiday with their dog, or pictures of their pet doing something silly or mischievous on a day off!

Helping clients whilst they celebrate amazing highs such as their wedding days and also supporting them through the lowest lows such as the horror of grief. This was something that never crossed my mind when I set out, but I am always so flattered to be involved in these moments, even if just a small part to assist them in reaching or getting through these milestones – that is the most satisfying part of my work and one that I am most proud of.

Product Review: Halti Training Lead

Lets face it, there are so many different types and styles of leads; from your pretty ones, to heavy duty chain, extendable/retractable or static long line leads – the options are a bit overwhelming and we often do not know where to start. Well, I have tried many types over the years and have found many that I really do not enjoy using but more importantly I can honestly say I have found my personal favourite.

Simply, I love the Halti Training Lead! I would not be without one, and that is why I have two in my kit bag. I purchased one a couple of years back with the intention of using it solely during training sessions however, I use it daily with many of my clients as my own personal preference as it is great for dogs of all ages and life stages.

I am often asked for recommendations or my opinion on many things, including harnesses and leads and I will always recommend one of this style to every single dog owner; they’re affordable and so very versatile. Despite its name, these are not limited to dogs in training or those needing leash training – you could have a dog that walks beautifully on lead and still find this incredibly useful.

The main reason I am such a fan of these double-end style leads, is that they are so adaptable. I can easily adjust the length of the lead to allow the dog to explore further or have greater choice of movement without loosing my control. They have multiple rings so you have three lengths to choose from which is great for switching from roadside walking to walking in the park.

You can use this lead like any other traditional style attached to a collar or harness but the biggest difference is that you can also attach this lead so that it has two points of contact. This gives you the ability to slow and steer your dog; whilst leaving their faces free and unaffected which would not be possible if using other anti-pull equipment. Using this lead has seen transformations with clients dogs that relentlessly pulled on-lead but it is also a fantastic tool for dogs with poor impulse control as well as very strong dogs.

Do you have one of these types of leads? If so, let me know why you like it and tell us why it has been useful for you and your dog.