Tell us a bit about The Darling Dog Company and how it all started
It’s been nearing 12yrs ago that I took the leap to work with dogs and make it my life’s work. Which sounds strange but I am obsessed with dogs, I always have been. I don’t feel ‘whole’ without them and it was realising this that made me know I had to be involved with dogs everyday of my life. I studied Sociology and Childhood studies at university, so I love finding out about how people work. I adore discovering the relationships between each family or owner and their dog/s. I’m not interested in obedience training, having the cleverest dog in the land, I just want a happy, well behaved and loved dog and that is the same as my clients. I like to work in a way that brings fun and play into my client’s lives, I’m also very honest, I won’t gloss it up but equally I want to empower you to get the best from your relationship, as when those things are in place, having a four legged best friend can be just the best thing in the entire world.
Tell us about Pip and how he came into your life.
In April 2019, I was out walking our rescue Great Dane, Fred, as he ran towards to me, in a game we were playing, he dropped down dead. I still wake up in the middle of night with nightmares about this moment, we had only had him 2.5yrs from Gt Dane Care so it did feel like we were robbed. He was such a huge presence in everyway, that I couldn’t contemplate getting a dog in any shape or form. I really needed a breather to sit back and consider how we as a family move forward. It’s my job to help families find the right dog, so I made a list of what we needed, I had a very strict criteria. My children are 7yrs and 5yrs, we were going through the process of discovering my 5yr old daughter has sensory processing issues and perhaps more. So I felt I had a lot on my plate! But I was also desperate to share our home with a dog. I met many dogs but none fitted, none were meeting our needs.
Then I was away for a weekend with my mum in Greece and my friend Elaine at Holly & Lil messaged me, telling she had taken a dog in to foster, as his owner had died suddenly and would I take a look at him. So when we returned, I went to see him, at the time I was considering him and a one eyed Labrador but the rehoming centre with the Lab couldn’t provide me with some answers I needed. So I decided to meet Pip. As soon as I met him, I knew he had the potential to be the dog we needed. I saw something in him, he needed what we had to offer him as a family (fun, laughter, energy, snuggling up on the sofa) and we needed what he had – a calmness, a desire to be attached, a love for children, a love to be outdoors. So one week later, we as a family, went to collect him.
How does your Pip fit into your general working day?
It really varies, as every week is different to the next. Depending on the clients I’m seeing, where I am headed and who I’m with. Sometimes he will be a stooge dog to help a puppy feel more confident, he accompanies me to my classes too if he is able to. There is no set pattern, as it depends on the dog I’m working with and what they need. If he isn’t with me then he’s with my husband and kids or he is happy having a couple of hours to himself inbetween things, when we first got him he was too scared to come on the sofa. We have changed that and he now adores a snooze on the sofa. When I work from home doing consults, he is usually under my desk or next to me.
When you’re not working where do you and Pip like to hang out?
Pip adores being with us as a gang, this was a crucial personality trait that I was looking for in a dog. As we wanted a dog who could come everywhere with us. He doesn’t’ enjoy traffic dense roads so I do have to factor that in for him. We have also done a lot of work on him in the car, as he used to despise it but now he understands that it leads him to adventures!
The Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, they let him sit on a leather bench seat whilst I work.
Primrose Bakery in Primrose Hill, my favourite bakery and then a walk in Regents Park where the kids can spot the animals, especially the Giraffes and Zebras, looking through the gates at them feels magical.
Tromso in Forest Gate, hand make their own cinnamon buns & you can walk straight up onto Wanstead Flats where we walk everyday.
The Olympic Park is never on anyone’s list and yet it is perfect if you have kids and a dog. They can cycle, the dogs can run alongside them, there are cafes dotted around, play parks and they have some of the loveliest wild flower parking you will find in London. We usually park around near Tina We Salute You café, get a coffee and walk.
What essentials do you always have on you when heading out for a dog walk, and what do you carry them in?
I use a zebra print bum bag, that is big enough to hold the essentials and it means my hands are free. If I’m just going out with Pip, I take a ball for him, his favourite is the heart one from Planet Dog, its light and springy. He actually loves a Frisbee too but I’m on the hunt for a new foam one as its easier for him to pick it up. Poo bags are tucked in every pair of jeans I own and then I usually have two different treats with me. One higher value and one that is a bit less exciting. When I’m out walking him, I don’t listen anything and I tend to turn my phone on silent, as I like to focus on him. Plus if the kids aren’t with me, then having the silence is blissful!
What adventures do you have planned with Pip for later this year?
Who knows what the world will look like in a few months time, but for the time being, I hope we will still get to see one of my oldest friends who is an incredible floral artist, she has moved into the Snowdonian National Park and Pip loves her house, her vast garden and the farmland around it. The kids and him can run free. It’s amazing.
We are huge fans of Suffolk and will be visiting our friends who have bought a windmill there, Pip runs off with the kids and their friends and adores it. He happily sits and watches them as they make up a show to put on for him! We also love Walberswick and their Summer fete but I doubt that will be on this year.
We are in the process of buying a bell tent, so we can set it up at my sisters’ forest school in Solihull and camp out in the Summer. After lockdown we are just desperate to be near my parents, my sister and her kids. Lets hope we will be allowed to do this!
Lastly, I would like to do a trip to the New Forest, my daughter loves them and Pip is extremely good with them, he has accompanied the kids on horse riding lessons and is totally unfazed.