Pet Sitting is not for sissies

Some names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Pet Sitting is not for sissies – I saw this comment and thought how true it was, Dog Walking and Pet Sitting is also not for clean freaks, the squeamish or people of a nervous disposition!

Only this morning I was walking a dog who did his business and then did that thing where they scrape their feet backwards as if to spread their scent. I bent down to pick it up but no, he hadn’t finished ‘spreading his scent’ and I got a face full of grass and mud and I dread to think what else! People wonder why I carry a back pack when I’m walking dogs… it’s full of wet wipes and tissues to wipe the mud and crap off my face!

One of the things I’ve learned is the need to have a spare pair of shoes and socks in my car. Not only for the changeable and untrustworthy weather here in the UK but also foIMG_8307r those instances where a dog decides to use your leg as a tree… the problem is if they decide to do this half way round your walk you still have to walk for half an hour back to the house with soggy feet. Again those wet wipes are needed! I’m sure they don’t do it on purpose but there was the time Prince the Frenchie walked round the other side of a fence and decided to aim through the gap and onto my leg! I had to admire the accuracy of his aiming skills though.

 

I once looked after a cat whose owner informed me (after they had left for their holiday) that the cat was on antibiotics and needed to be given his medicine by squirting it into his mouth. This immediately filled me with dread knowing what this cat was like…he was not going to take this willingly. I googled the easiest methods which involved oven gloves, a large towel and eye shields, this did not help settle my nerves. So I ended up asking the owners how they give it to him. They suggested holding him by the scruff of the neck, prizing his mouth open, and quickly placing the syringe in his mouth and squirting the medicine in. Again this did not sound like it was going to go to plan. Can you imagine an angry cat that doesn’t like being held, having his jaw held open by a stranger and liquid squirting in, nope, it wasn’t going to happen. Needless to say after many attempts I mixed it into his food instead….

One of the things I do before meeting a new customer and their pet for the first time is ask their name and their breed. I don’t discriminate against or turn down any dog breed but just ask purely out of interest and future reference. There was one occasion where I was arranging to meet a new customer and her dog whose name was something very pretty and girly (we’ll go with Poppy) and I later realised I hadn’t asked what kind of dog it was. Oh well I’ll find out when I get there I thought, imagining a spaniel or something like that. I arrive and follow the lady into the kitchen to discover ‘Poppy’ is the biggest Doberman I have ever seen, who was the other side of a stair gate standing on two feet and was the same size as me! The lady then informed me Poppy doesn’t know any commands in English as they speak Polish and that they will be getting a new extendable lead as Poppy had snapped the last one again! I have to say I was a little anxious about this but to be fair she was a lovely dog…and I learnt some Polish.

 

Skincare Secrets

Working outside all day in the wind, rain and sun can take its toll on your skin so I do all I can to protect and look after it. I’ve always had a good skin care routine but since becoming a dog walker I like to take extra care of it. In this post I thought I’d share my skin care secrets and absolute favourite products.

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Something I have used religiously every morning and night since I was around 18 is this Aloe Vera Moisturising Lotion by Forever Living. I absolutely swear by it, it’s my favourite moisturiser and the few times I have tested other moisturisers I have always gone back to this one. It contains aloe, jojoba oil, collagen and elastin which Forever Living states ‘leaves the skin feeling soft and supple whilst maintaining natural PH balance.’ I’ve never used anti-ageing creams and for 32 I think my skin looks pretty line and wrinkle free which I’m positive is down to this lotion. It also acts as a good primer and base for make up. You only need a small amount to cover your whole face which is great.

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Even though the Aloe moisturiser is amazing I felt like I wanted to start using an overnight oil or serum to add as much moisture as possible, especially as I am outside all day. This Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-oil by The Body Shop has been a great added moisture boost. It contains wheat germ oil, sunflower, jojoba, sesame and soya oils from Community Fair Trade farmers which is another plus to this product. I noticed a difference after the first use of this oil, the next morning my skin felt silky smooth and it’s definitely a product I will be re purchasing. Although you only need a few drops so I can imagine it will last for months!

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For a little treat for my skin and a more intense clean once a week I use the Mask of Magnaminty face mask from Lush. It contains peppermint oil, ground aduki beans, vanilla and honey. It smells amazing and when I wash it off it just feels like it’s really deep cleaned my skin and leaves it feeling refreshed and smooth.

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Then there’s good old fashioned water. My boyfriend bought me this water bottle which has really made me drink so much more water than I used to. I drink at least 3 of these bottles a day and I find having the times written on the side does make a difference and helps me keep track of how much I’ve had and how much more I should be drinking.

Shadow – A dog’s point of view

Its nearly lunch time she’ll be here soon.  If I just wait here at the bottom of the stairs at the usual time I’ll see her coming to the door.  I need to check that everything smells the same, where is she?? Oh hang on is that the door…. She’s here! Yippeeee, must control my excitement, must control my excitement, must control.… nope I can’t I’m gonna have to lick her face.

Right harness on, lead on, I’m ready! Open the door, open the door, open the door….. woo hoo walk time!  Ahhh all the smells, hang on I’m sure that bush smells different today, who’s been here??  I’m gonna have to wee on that.  Oops missed the bush.  Well if you will stand in the way lady!  Come on let’s go!

La la la oh what was that??  Squirrel!  MUST GET SQUIRREL.  I know I can’t climb trees lady but I can stare at it for 5 minutes can’t I?  Maybe it will come down?  Oh she wants to keep moving, maybe she wants to check the smells too, ok squirrel I’ll come back for you later.

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So many smells so little time, come on lady hurry we need to get to the bridge.

Finally we’re at the top….aaah look at that view I can see for miles, it is beautiful.  Hang on she’s taking photos of me again she thinks I haven’t noticed.  Let me just give her my best pose in case these photos go on the internet like the last ones.  My mum always tells me I’m beautiful, I reckon I could model for doggy Vogue.

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Oh my gosh there’s another human coming towards us, she looks nice, I wonder if she’d like a hug, I think she would.  Hey lady, want a hug? Yeah ya do! Yes managed to lick her face too, I think she liked it cos she’s smiling, or is that laughing? Same thing.  Why’s my walking buddy apologising, who wouldn’t want a hug from me?!

Dum de dum…Oh what do we have here…another dog on my patch…don’t think so mate. WOOF! That told him….

Looks like we’re turning back home now, we can’t have been an hour already!  I am a bit peckish though.  Right back home, I’m gonna pull out the puppy dog eyes so she feels sorry for me and stays a bit longer.  She won’t be able to resist.  Harness off, paws dried aaaaand zoomies!!  Ok enough of that I’m worn out now.

I think she’s going now she’s putting her back-pack back on and talking in that strange soppy high pitched voice.  There she goes again telling me how beautiful I am and looking forward to seeing me tomorrow.  I’ve always been a ladies man.  Yawn I’m pooped, think I’ll finish my lunch and have a snooze. Same time tomorrow lady!

Making The Leap

I’d always worked in admin, it was something I fell into when I was 18 and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or what career path I wanted to go down. It will do for now I thought. 11 years later and with the prospect of turning 30 and still not feeling like I was where I wanted to be, I decided I needed to make some changes. I’d thought about the idea of starting a dog walking and pet sitting business many times over the years, even came up with a name and logo at one stage but always ended up telling myself I couldn’t do it or it would be too difficult and many other excuses. It did seem a risk going from a guaranteed monthly income to being self-employed but it was always in the back of my mind and having had such special bonds with my own dogs I knew I wanted to work with them in some way.

I can’t remember exactly what that final push was. Maybe it was being told that I had to start recording my every move, including how long I stopped to talk to a colleague and how long I was in the toilet for, seriously?! Or having to come up with 3 things I wanted to achieve in my admin role for a personal development review with my manager. I couldn’t think of 1 let alone 3! My heart really wasn’t in it. I looked at all the research I had done into starting my own business and daydreamed of what it would be like to be my own boss as well as working with animals all day. I looked out the window from my office one day with its scenic view of the car park opposite and thought do you know what I’m going to go for it!

After a lot more research and planning I came up with a business plan and that was it, I’d made up my mind, no going back, it was going to happen. When I started telling people my plans I was mostly met with surprise as I had kept my plans so quiet but also a lot of positivity and wishes of good luck. There were of course a few negative comments, “Ooo do you think that’s a bit risky?”, “Are you sure?”, “What if it doesn’t work?”, “Who’s going to pay someone to walk their dog?” This only served to make me want to go for it even more.

My last day in the office was a strange one, I was excited to start my new career but also sad to be leaving the team I had worked with for the last 4 or so years. They weren’t just colleagues but friends and we had so many laughs and good times in between the seriousness, sadness and stress of a Children’s Social Care department. Although when I walked out those doors for the last time I did feel a sense of relief and freedom!

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A week or so later I had my first walk with one of my first customers, a handsome black Labrador called Rocky, such a lovely natured boy and a real character. I soon came to realise he had a talent for finding the biggest stick and not letting go of it for the whole 1 hour walk, and sometimes this big stick was more like a small tree! He also seemed to enjoy whacking me on the back of the legs with it! From then on I knew I was going to love my new job 🙂

My first blog post

So here goes my very first blog post!

It was my first day back today after 10 days off over Christmas and New Year and boy did my legs get a shock! My arms and shoulders too for that matter! After not much physical exercise and eating my weight in chocolate over the festive period I was not prepared for that first cold and energetic power walk of 2017. I’m starting to think I should do warm up exercises in the mornings as I definitely felt like I’d had a full body workout after an hour of brisk walking along with my arms being pulled in every direction trying to stop Obi the Doberman cross from grabbing the loaf of bread somebody had kindly left on the path, I’m assuming for the birds. Obi can sniff out a dropped slice of pizza, half eaten sandwich and random edible objects from a mile away. She could be a police sniffer dog if there were ever a crime involving a cheesecake that is…


Like Obi I was greeted by my other buddies throughout the day with excitable barking, wagging tails and licks to the face. I like to think their greetings are because they’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed them but It’s probably more to do with me being ‘the one that takes us for long walkies and then gives us a treat!’

One of my 1 hour walks was with a beautiful Labrador who is just bursting with energy and so I decided I would put her on an extendable lead so she could have more room to have a wander around and a little run. Unfortunately for me I didn’t anticipate that she was going to start sprinting like Usain Bolt! With me still attached to the other end of the lead you can use your imagination as to what happened next, ouch!  Most of my customers like me to keep their dogs on lead so I seem to have something inside me that says ‘DON’T LET GO!’

My last walk today (now with muddy jeans) was with Jack, I walk him once a week through The Cinnamon Trust which is a charity that I signed up with last year. It’s an amazing charity that helps elderly and terminally ill people and their pets, finding volunteers to walk or foster pets if the owners are not able to themselves. Very rewarding and something which I’d love to write about in more detail in the future.

When I got home I have to say I was pretty tired and my calves were aching, probably from trying to stop myself face planting the mud earlier! Still, I’m looking forward to whatever the day has to bring tomorrow 🙂