Friday, 27 February 2009

Home Dog Boarding in Brentwood

I have finally been told by Brentwood council that I am licensed for dog boarding! This is great news, as it means I am the only fully insured and licensed domestic dog boarder in the Brentwood borough (beware of illegal imitations)! I am still waiting for my nice, shiny laminated licence to come through the post, but I have been assured it is backdated to the day I applied so I am now open for bookings.

My (basic) charges are set at £25 per DAY (nights are free, half days £10). This should not be compared to the price of a kennel stay, because your dog will be in my home, mixing with my dogs (reminder – I have a terrier and a Greyhound who are very well socialised and used to sharing their home with many different foster dogs, as well as my extended family dogs), getting in the way of the telly as they probably do at home, snuggling up with me, and generally be getting all the love and attention I can give them. They won't be in a concrete, or 'luxury' tiled kennel surrounded by cages and other dogs and deprived of human company for most of their stay. I have a 60' secure garden (which I am not proud of, so no worries about the dogs enjoying themselves!), and three different parks/woodland areas within easy walking distance, plus my usual walking areas to enjoy. I have a soft spot for beaches too.

Obviously I am still dog walking, so this might not be suitable for every dog - as a popular dog walker I can be out for most of the day - I come home for lunch once (and usually twice) a day, so the dogs are not left alone for longer than four hours, and usually it's under three hours.

I can only take in one family's dogs at a time, and am limited to four small dogs, or two larger dogs, so if you are interested please get in touch sooner rather than later.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Confidence Booster - Beautiful Heelwork

One of my customers is a little Fox Terrier, around 6 months old. He's a terrible puller - oh so many interesting things just out of reach! So I take him out twice a week to teach him to walk nicely on a lead.

At this point my confidence takes a dive, as I worry that it's beyond me, I can't do it, how can I possibly be getting paid for this, I'm going to be shown up as a fraud, etc etc.

I don't train people, as I have no training for this, but over the last couple of years I've taught quite a few foster dogs the basics (and Fred, who was a terrible puller, now trots along with a loose lead quite happily) and passed the ideas that worked for that dog onto the new owner, plus this isn't the first puppy I've taught to walk without pulling, it's just the first time it's been the specific aim of my time. Even when I can see he is learning (offlead all round the garden, beautiful heelwork, pausing both sides of open doorways etc), I still worry that it's not working. I need some confidence!

Well, today I received a boost. I took the pup to a very quiet cul-de-sac, and practised. We do lots of turns at the moment, to keep him from knowing where he's going and so rushing ahead, and we're increasing the forward distance slowly. We got up to around 20 paces in a straight line successfully on-lead (around 12m) a few times, so I didn't push it any further. Then I dropped the lead, went back to lots of turns, and got 10 paces of wonderful heelwork a few times! Still didn't want to push it too far and go terribly wrong. As we were working, another dog owner came round the corner. I spotted it first, so was able to collect the lead and have a controlled greeting. I told the other dog owner we weren't ready to add in dogs as distractions yet, but he told me how impressive he thought Nelson was anyway!

I reported back to Mum and she said she and her husband had both noticed a difference, so I must learn to credit myself that this is something I can do! I can't wait for my John Rogerson course in August, which I hope will be another confidence booster for me, and I look forward to picking up some new techniques.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Introducing Inky!

Here's Inky, a rare moment captured when his nose was not snuffling through the undergrowth. It took me about 10 goes to get this picture, as I walk Inky at the end of the day (Mum is home but needs a hand to walk him for a while) and the light is going, so the camera takes so long to take the photo after I have clicked the button he's normally gone back to sniffing!

I've walked him with Fred and Beauty so far, as he likes the company. Walking two hounds at dusk might not sound a good idea, but the evenings are getting lighter, and Inky stays on the lead. Beauty I have let off, mainly because when I have a dog on a long line she often gets caught up and hurt, and the evenings are getting lighter all the time.

I've always liked Beagles - one of the best parts of my job is that I get to spend time with a lot of breeds I really like. The absolute best bit is each individual dog, and getting to know their character. And a side-benefit, there are lots of lovely men walking their dogs at that time of day (daytimes seem to be women/families/old men). An improvement to the view!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Cat on a Mildly Warmed Up Slate Roof

I must stress this is not a cat I am looking after! This is a neighbourhood cat in my lovely town of Brentwood - where the biggest risk of injury (to humans or pets) comes from traffic. I watched it jump from the balcony to the gutter, walk up the front of the roof and now you see it disappearing over the other side.

As a cat sitter I do my best to encourage cat owners to keep their cats in while they are away. I don't like turning up at an empty house, putting food down, then leaving without making sure the cat I am supposed to be looking after is safe and sound. Some owners are insistent their cats stay out, normally due to the 'yuk' factor of the 'disgusting' litter tray.

I appreciate poo isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's me who has to deal with it, not the owner, and I can clear it away and air the house before you get home, so please, if you use a cat sitter, consider keeping your cat home safe. If you get a reputable sitter they will not just turn up, feed, watch TV and leave, they will give your cat a proper work out!


If you have a puppy and are looking for a Puppy Package, I currently only have spaces on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

For dogs over 6 months old, I have no weekly Dog Walking spaces during the day at all as I am fully booked. I do have a waiting list which you can join - there will be spaces available from April - so please contact me so I can log your details. Any earlier vacancies will be published via this blog.

For dogs not needing to be visited every day there are spaces Tuesday to Friday, depending on your needs and area.

If you are at home and need your dog walked for you, I have space any day (or every day) in the mornings, before 10am or after 4pm (I do walk after dark where necessary, a reflective jacket is provided for your dog).

Cats, rabbits, reptiles, rodents, places are available.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Horses for Courses

Only without the horses.

This week while I've been off work I've done a couple of business courses. One included some information about marketing, which was REALLY useful, and I will be getting my website updated in the near future (and possibly going on a dedicated marketing course).

One of the things that came out was to put myself in my customers heads and really think about what is important to THEM rather than ME. I thought I was already doing this, as I am a pet owner, but gave it a go anyway, and then asked my pet owning friends on Facebook for their top three important things when looking for a dog walker/pet sitter.

Obviously I can't go into detail about my trade secrets, but my number 1 benefit is so far running at number 2, while my number 4 is topping the charts at number 1! So it's been a useful exercise.

I'd be very interested to hear what anyone else thinks are the three most important things

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

All in a Day's Work

I put a name tag on each of the dogs I walk (and am considering asking cat owners to do the same if they allow them out while I am looking after them), and to make sure I don't end up with no fingernails, I use a small carabiner for easy but secure clipping and a waterproof capsule with my details inside.

I like the capsules, because they are a reasonable enough size that in an emergency anyone can see there is something on the dog (I like them so much I am considering dumping my dogs' metal tags and using them on mine) without them being too annoying for the dog, and the size means I usually remember to remove them when I go home. It doesn't matter if they get dragged through water and they are sturdy enough not to be flicked off by bushes and branches. And with the new 'fashion' for really thick metal bars on collars, there is no risk of a split ring being bent out of shape and working free.

It works for most of the dogs I walk.

Just not for Max.

Sometimes I arrive a little later than planned. Brentwood has two roads closed right in the middle of the busy high street (which is also a 'short cut' when the A12, A127 and/or M25 is causing problems - and I live the other side of it from all my customers) and there is so much housebuilding going on there are temporary traffic lights popping up all over the place. It's all delays, and they spring up overnight so sometimes it can take me a little longer to get around town than expected.

I felt really guilty when I saw how much Benson needed the loo today...

Anyone got a mop?

Fingers Crossed!

Yesterday I put in my application to board dogs at home. Unlike some other councils Brentwood do not licence specifically for residences, so I've had to write in asking for consideration to be given to some of the 'kennels' type conditions, and to ask if I can have a reduction on the fee!

I don't know how long they will take, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Saturday, 7 February 2009


Okay, so not much to do with dog walking, other than these are the things I see while...

The snow we had this week is either a) the worst we've had for 18 years, or, b) the best we've had for 18 years depending on your point of view. So because it's been such a long time, there are loads of under 18 year olds who don't have sledges. They don't let that stop them though - it seems they will hurtle down a hill on anything!

As I am at the age where I am scared of teenagers (in another 20 years I'll get back to being annoyed by them, as I was up to about 5 years ago) I didn't walk in some of my usual places around Brentwood until they'd gone back to school (HA HA!). Here are the sledges they've left behind...

None of these items were in the fields the day before the snow.

Sorry about the awful layout - it looked better in preview!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009


If you have a puppy and are looking for a Puppy Package, I currently only have spaces on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

For dogs over 6 months old, I have no weekly Dog Walking spaces for dogs who need to be walked alone, and only one weekly space for a dog who can be walked in a group.

For dogs not needing to be visited every day, I do have spaces most days (Mondays are extremely busy and spaces are limited to Brentwood town centre/station area).

If you are at home and need your dog walked for you, I have space any day (or every day) after 4pm.

Cats, rabbits, reptiles, rodents, places are available.

My next holiday is 16th - 20th February when I will not be able to take on any boarders or home visits and will not be available for appointments. I will still take phone calls, but won't be able to see clients until 21st February. Current clients I am always available via phone or text!

Snow Angels

Here are two of the dogs I missed seeing yesterday!

When in doubt, Conrad says, just stuff your head in the snow! Or, if you're Nutmeg, just run off into the distance!

Today I discovered that wearing heavy boots you don't wear often in the snow is possibly a mistake. They may keep me dry, but my legs are killing me now!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Snow Babies!

I make no apology, I love the snow! I had more cancellations during the day, but here are some photos of the snow babes I did manage to get to see today.

First walk of the day, Fred and Beauty. Fred can't wait to get out there and stuff his head in a snow drift, it even made having to wear his jumper worthwhile!

Next up, Bingley, my new Whippet puppy. As he's so tiny he borrowed Fred's jumper. He wasn't so keen, but we had a good walk anyway.

Then we stopped by for TJ. He managed to gather so many snowballs we cut the walk short a bit. He'd have been uncomfortable lying in bed, as I didn't know where the hairdryer was kept! I towelled most of them off, so he should have had peaceful sweet dreams in the warm for the afternoon.

My final job was Benson and Scarlet - as the ground was frozen I let them out together for a play - when it's wet they get too muddy as they are turning the lawn into a mudbath, and not too good for the lawn either!
Scarlet was demonstrating one of the best bits of a walk - the aftersnooze.

And last, definitely least, and probably the only glimpse you'll see - me! I may look stupid, but I was warm and dry and the dogs don't laugh!

And after all that - the van only managed to catch three snowballs!


The first day of real snow for a long time - it's about 6" deep out there, which I know isn't deep in some parts, but we rarely get this much anymore (not like when I was a kid etc etc) so I'm very excited.

I expect when I come home dripping wet later on I'll be miserable and hate it, but for now, I think it's beautiful. I've already had one cancellation, hopefully that will be if for the day, but I might bump into more owners if they are working from home.

I've got two pairs of socks on, three pairs of trousers, three jumpers, possibly two hats and two pairs of gloves so I'm ready and willing for walking those gorgeous dogs. I'm sure I'll be snug - let's just hope my little Hijet is up to the job of getting out of my road, let alone around Brentwood!