Nine years ago this week, Friends for Pets was launched! Initially the plan was to offer a local pet care service to a few pet owners living in the Cheddar Valley area of the West Country. A little business that could be run by Becca alongside looking after her own pets and her Animal Science lecturing work. With little advertising, within a couple of months word had spread and three pet carers were recruited to help provide these services (Liz and Margaret, two of these original pet carers are still with us after all this time even though Margaret keeps trying to retire!! Thanks ladies for your amazing work and commitment to FFP).
Within the first couple of years, enquiries started to come in from all over the country and increasingly in some of the more densely populated areas like Bristol and Bath. At one point Becca had 85 pet carers working for her on a part time basis. The company was now running her! To allow things to grow at a more manageable pace, in 2011 FFP was set up to be franchised to allow local managers to manage smaller teams of pet carers therefore maintaining a higher standard of service. The first franchisee was Julia Barnaville, who as well as owning the Bath team now owns a neighbouring franchise also. As of July 2017 we have a few more franchises over the South of the UK and we hope to slowly build on these whilst continually improving the services that we offer to our clients.
It has been a whirlwind of nine years. As with everyone that runs their own business will know, there are lots of ups and downs and it does take your heart and soul to make things work sometimes. The people and pets we have met along our business journey make it all worthwhile and the passion that our team leader and pet carers have is inspirational to work with. Huge thank you’s to all of our managers, pet carers and clients for your support and commitment we will keep trying to improve things everyday! xxx
By Tash Myers
As I was training to be a qualified Canine First Responder Instructor, I had quite a few people asking me ‘why do you need dog first aid?’ and ‘Why would I need a certified course?’. Once upon a time I was one of those people asking those exact questions. To me it’s a very simple answer. If you have a dog, work with dogs in any profession (dog walking, dog sitting, working in a dog rescue centre, dog trainers or groomers) or have a beloved dog as a pet, what if something happened to a dog in your care? If it collapsed, stopped breathing, had a serious bleed, would you know what to do?
It’s not until someone asks you that question until it makes you think. Calling the vet is the obvious answer, but what if you were not minutes from a vet and your dog needed assistance before you could get to a vet, what would you do? Would you know how to reduce a serious bleed? Would you know how to help your dog breathe again? Our certified courses are very much there to give you the knowledge and skills to provide first aid to the casualty whilst the professionals are on their way to you. Most businesses have their own human first aid responder let’s make it the ‘norm’ for the pet industry to have their own canine First Aid Responders too!
That time of year has come round again when we are starting to find ticks on our dogs that we walk. So why are they such a problem?
With changes in temperatures, ticks are starting to feed earlier and earlier in the year.
With the introduction of pet passports and the increase in international pet travel, not only ticks but other parasites, are able to easily introduce new diseases to countries where they did not used to be present.
Very serious diseases can be transmitted via ticks such as Canine Babesiosis and Lyme’s Disease as well as commonly causing localised infections around the entry site.
Have a chat with your vet about preventative methods. There are many products on the market which if used routinely during the tick’s active months can keep ticks at bay.
Check over your pet frequently and remove any ticks that you find. This is not always easy with longer haired pets!
If you find a tick on your pet, you should ideally remove the whole tick including the head which bury inside your pet, with a special tick removal hook which can be brought from most vets or pet shops. This should be rotated until the whole tick comes away.
Don’t try and remove it by pulling it off or burning it as parts of the tick can remain inside your pet leading to either an infection of the site or another disease that the tick was carrying.
If the area is very swollen or red, do not be afraid to get your vet to give your pet a quick check over.
When Becca went to the APGAW Dog meeting at the House of Commons at the end of 2016, some Veterinary researchers gave a talk about The Big Tick Project run by Bristol Veterinary School. It is running again this year. If you want to find out more about it then please see http://www.bigtickproject.co.uk/ This site contains some great pictures of the different ticks you might find on your pets too!
Our Bradford-on-Avon and Corsham dog walking team are lucky to have some fantastic dog walks to take their clients on! Here are some of our favourites:-
1. The Kennet and Avon Canal Path- A gorgeous dog walk along the towpath that stretches all the way from Reading to Bath. The dog walk passes through Bradford-on-Avon and is a good flat path for buggies and wheelchairs too.
2. Corsham Court and Lake- A great dog walk near Corsham with plenty of variation for your dogs. There are parts with water, woods and fields. You are able to let your dogs off in parts but just be careful to keep them on the lead and under control when sheep are present. There is a free car park too!
3. Slaughterford- Not far from Corsham, a dog walk with lots of variety- woods, fields and a little beach with a pond for dogs to play in. Lots of great places for some off lead playtime and some lovely dog friendly pubs in the area too to make a day of it!
4. Box Woods – Not far from Corsham and Atworth, with some incredible views stretching over Bath and Box, this is a beautiful dog walk through bridlepaths and woods. Occasionally livestock are present in fields along the way so please remember to keep dogs on the lead and under control for everyone’s safety.
5. Woods and Fields around Neston- a quiet, pretty dog walk around Neston, between Corsham and Atworth. Lots of places to let your dogs have a run off the lead but please keep them close and under control re is plenty of wildlife in the area.
If you would like your dog to join one of our dog walkers on one of these gorgeous dog walks please get in touch with Sarah on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01225 667245
The Barry and Vale of Glamorgan dog walkers that provide dog walking services in Penarth, Dinas Powys, Llandough and surrounding areas are lucky to have some gorgeous walks to take the four legged friends on! Here are some of their favourites:-
1. Lavernock Point – Very close to Penarth for our dog walkers. Provides a gorgeous coastal walk and amazing views across the channel. Parking can be difficult especially on more pleasant days.
2. Bryngarw Country Park – Gorgeous park for a dog walk near Bridgend. Convenient (paid) parking and café on site, parts of the walk are along a disused railway and although you are allowed to let dogs off keep them close as there are plenty of cyclists around on warmer days.
3. Llanwit Major Beach – This is a lovely spot for a dog walk during the winter months (dogs are banned from the beach during the summer months). Convenient car parking too near the beach. A lovely little town to have a wander around as well.
4. Dinas Powys – With stunning countryside there are lots of beautiful places to explore on a dog walk around Dinas Powys including the lovely Salmon Leaps Walk. There are some wooded areas and open fields. If you are lucky you may see some wildlife with kestrals, buszzards and pheasants commonly seen. At some times of year there may be livestock in the fields so please keep dogs on the lead and under close control to keep livestock and dogs safe when our dog walking.
5. Porthkerry Country Park – Beautiful footpaths and woodland to explore whilst dog walking in Barry. With a car park on site, this is great dog walk for the warmer summer months when you are trying to avoid hot tarmac and missing the beaches!
6. Watchtower Bay – a lovely beach walk in Barry. The beach is close to the town so parking is usually quite easy and there are also toilets on site.
7. Cosmeston Lakes & Country Park – Can be an extended dog walk to incorporate a countryside and coastal walk. The actual park has two lakes, good footpaths making it a good choice for wheelchairs and pushchairs as well as dog walking. Due to the amount of birdlife around the lakes please keep dogs under close control at all times.
8. Knap Gardens – A great place for a dog walk in Barry all year round. Beautiful gardens around a lake visited regularly by birdlife. A good walk for buggies and wheelchairs as well as being popular with dog walkers.
9. Jacksons Bay – This is a quiet secluded sandy beach and the locals best kept secret. It is popular with dog walkers due to allowing dogs on it all year round. You can also walk round the Coastal Path to Barry Island though that does have dog restrictions at certain times of the year.
10. Merthyr Mawr – This walk is easy to find from the M4 and again dogs are allowed here all year round. Start by exploring picturesque historical cottages before wandering the wilds of the sand dunes. Dogs
will love running up and down the dunes including the Big Dipper! Reach the top of this one and be rewarded with all the surrounding views.
If you would like your dog to join us on one of these gorgeous walks then please get in touch with Catherine on email@example.com or 07502 316670
At the end of 2016 we launched our new Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan
Catherine and Tess
dog walking team. Our dog walkers and pet sitters are now able to provide dog walking and pet care services in Penarth, Barry, Dinas Powys, Sully, Llandough and the surrounding areas.
Our small team of fantastic pet carers are managed by the wonderful Catherine. Catherine lives locally and, as well as being a busy mum of two young children, has her own lovely rescue dog Tess who is frequently seen out assisting Catherine with her dog walking services.
Our Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters in Penarth, Dinas Powys, Barry and the Vale are able to provide a wide range of pet sitting services from a dog walking service tailored to your dog’s requirements, doggy day care, dog holiday care, cat sitting and small pet boarding, as well as a variety of options for house sitting.
As with all of our Friends for Pets teams, our dog walkers and pet sitters are:-
· Fully Insured.
· Do not arrive in marked vehicles announcing your empty home.
· Are DBS checked.
· Are able to provide references.
· Undergo our pet sitter award scheme including training in dog behaviour, nutrition, health and disease and much much more!
· From summer 2017 all pet carer will undergo pet first aid training.
Our team over a tailor made service to suit your pets needs rather than you having to fit with us. For all dog walking and pet sitting enquiries in Barry, Penarth, Dinas Powys and the surrounding areas of the Vale of Glamorgan please contact Catherine on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07502 316670.
For us as Dog Walkers and Pet Carers it is really important to know what breeds are more susceptible to certain conditions. Some have known genetic links, other conditions are just found to occur more frequently in certain breeds. Below discusses some breeds and some common conditions found within them (this list is only a guide and of course not every dog of that breed type will have this condition. Always get a Veterinary Professional to examine your dog if you are in doubt over any health issue).
Husky – With their thick coats small skin problems can sometimes be missed leading to larger sores on their skin and hair loss in the affected areas. Eye problems such as glaucoma and cataracts can be common in older dogs as well. These can usually be helped with veterinary intervention.
Bull dog – With very pure breeding lines, certain features of dogs have become more pronounced. These smaller dogs with flatter faces, small nostrils and narrower internal respiratory structures can develop breathing difficulties particularly suffering in very hot weather as panting and an increased respiratory rate is used to cool the body. If the dog is physically unable to pant then they can become overheated and overtired leading to potentially life threatening problems.
Pug – With their flatter faces and bulgy eyes, Pugs can suffer from a condition where their eyes can pop out of their socket ie. When rough playing with another dog. If this occurs then cover the eye with a damp cloth and get them to the vet asap!
German Shepherd – Again with very pure breeding lines sometimes the ball and socket joint of the hips don’t fit together properly. This can lead to pain, arthritis and problems walking. In German Shepherds this can be screened for as there has been a genetic link determined.
Labrador- With their kind nature, persuasive eyes and ‘always hungry’ personality, labradors can easily become overweight so they need lots of exercise and healthy snacks such as raw carrots or apples.
Beagle – Epilepsy and fitting as been shown to occur more frequently in beagles than other breeds.
Boxer – Have been shown to have a slightly higher risk for certain types of cancer ie lymphoma and mast cell tumours (skin cancer) which can cause secondary cancers in internal organs. However both types are treatable if caught early and the dog is otherwise healthy.
Dachshund – With their long bodies they run the risk of back injuries and spinal disk problems. Limiting jumping up and down on things and keeping at a healthy weight will help prevent injuries.
Doberman – Occasionally the chambers of the heart are bigger due to the cardiac muscle being stretched out and therefore not being able to pump blood as effectively. Due to the known genetic link, screening and medication can help regulate the heart’s rhythm in known sufferers.
Cocker Spaniel – With their ear shape and that they are hairy, this can lead to ear infections. Prevention can be helped with regular cleaning and allowing the air to circulate around the inside of the ear as much as possible. Ask a veterinary professional for advice relating to your specific dog.
Rottweiler – and other large breeds are at risk of joint problems as they are fast growing puppies and sometimes their joints to fully finish developing until they are around 18 months old. Being very careful with the amount of exercise, surfaces they are exercised on and maintaining a healthy diet can all help joints develop correctly.
German Shorthaired Pointer – Can suffer from a heart condition caused by the narrowing of the main blood vessel from the heart causing strain on the heart as it struggles to pump enough blood around the body. This can be quite common in other larger dog breeds too.
Maltese – can suffer with tremors caused by inflammation of the cerebellum (the part of the brain that helps with movement). The tremors can be helped with corticosteroids.
It’s that time of year when sometimes it’s more difficult to take your dog out for a long walk. To help keep you dog fit, active and entertained you could play some indoor games with your dog. Here are some ideas for fun boredom busters for you and your dog..
1) Hunt the treat – Hide some of your dog’s favourite treats around your house and get your dog to sniff them out! They may find it difficult at the start so hide them in sight of your dog. With practise you may be able to hide them without your dog seeing so they start to utilise their sniffing rather than their sight to detect them. If they struggle with finding treats within a room to start with you could just make them choose which hand the treat is in. You could use a choice of upturned cups with a treat hidden underneath as well for them to sniff out.
2) Toys and treat dispensers – such as Kongs or Nina Ottoson can entertain whilst you can’t!
3) Family Circle – If you have children and your dog is happy and safe with them, get everyone to sit in a circle with some treats and then they can take it in turns to call the dogs name. When the dog comes to the right person calling them, they receive a treat. Make the circle bigger and bigger as the dog gets better at the game. You can eventually end up in different rooms. This really encourages rapid recall.
4) Tug of War – Although there is a lot of different views on playing this with your dog (i.e. If they win then they perceive you as being submissive), a recent study (http://www.npr.org/2011/05/26/136497064/the-new-science-of-understanding-dog-behavior) has shown that actually the more you play with your dog and let them win at a game, the more they like you. The more you win, they less they want to play with you. Just ensure that you halt the game if they get a bit over enthusiastic with the tugging!
5) Obstacle course – If you don’t have ‘proper’ agility equipment to hand (as most owners won’t!), you could make a DIY course for your dog by rolling up towels or blankets for little jumps. Walk them through the course first and then let them have a go themselves. This is also a good way to get your dog to stretch certain soft tissues in the joints without over exerting them on a walk i.e. After surgery etc. Always follow your vets instructions for how much exercise and what type of exercise your dog can do though. Kitchen chairs or a coffee table could be used as a tunnel, a stool to balance on etc.
6) Name Game – Studies have shown that dogs understand around 200 words. If they like to play with toys, you could give a name to each toy and teach it to them, giving a reward when you say the correct toy and they bring it to you. Teach them one toy at a time and keep repeating the name until they associate it with the specific toy.
7) Basketball – Teach your dog to drop their toy or ball into a washing basket. Ensure they know the ‘drop’ command first and then show them first what you would like them to do and then reward as they start performing the desired behaviour. Once they can do this you could expand on this to get them to tidy up all their toys into a basket (please send them to live with me when they can do this!!).
Rather than sending Christmas cards to all of our amazing
Christmas thank you letter
clients we give a donation to a pet-related charity. For Christmas 2016 we chose to donate to Hounds for Heroes. Here is their lovely thank you letter.