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  1. me and patch

    What a busy few months we have had!  We hope you all had a lovely festive break and that you and your furry family are looking forward to sunshine, spring and warmer, longer days!

     As you will remember from our last newsletter in August, we were just rolling out several fairly major changes to enable us to meet the challenges that face a small but rapidly growing business.  I am pleased to report that all but one of these changes have now been put into place and update you all on how their progress and success.

    Firstly, I am very grateful to our lovely clients who embraced Hannah’s new group walks and our gorgeous new van!  I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing it whizzing around Guildford, Godalming and Haslemere! The dogs have certainly been enjoying the comfort of the new van and our clients will be happy to know it has also been kitted with an electric fan to ensure constant cooling air flow during the summer months that are not that far away!

    Hannah is almost fully booked 5 days a week, which means that we are now in the process of recruiting several more members of the team with our new recruitment process.  We are looking for a holiday cover member, and a new walker to cover Haslemere and Godalming as Hannah is finding that the majority of her clients are centered around the Guildford area.  We have just interviewed several excellent candidates who are exactly what we are looking for and we are now starting our induction process, so expect updates shortly!

    Secondly, we were very sad that in November we had to let Kirsty go.  Unfortunately, as is so often the case at that time of year, business went very quiet, which could not have come at a worse time having just increased our cost base significantly.  So, sadly we had to let Kirsty go – however we are still in close contact and she has set up her own business in Haslemere, which we are pleased to report is thriving!  Thankfully, Hannah immediately picked up the role of co-ordinating bookings for our walks and cat sits, which I have found has worked very well, simplifying our communication for us and our clients!  If you do email us, please don’t worry if you do not have an immediate response, Hannah is walking during the day Monday – Friday and responds to emails in the evening.

    Sarah Sorgi and Hannah have now been promoted to the role of ‘Senior Dog Walker’ and they are jointly responsible for training our new staff and helping them find ways to work with any special requirements our clients may have.

    All of our staff received their uniform in September and October last year too – we just have a few bits for now, but there will be more soon!

    Lastly, the one thing that we are now just in the process of finalizing from our last newsletter is the anonymous feedback tool, this should be coming out to you all soon!

    So we are now very much back to business as usual and we hope that you, our very valued clients, have seen an improvement and feel that we are working on offering a reliable, professional and caring service that really takes the worry out of pet care needs!

    As you will see the rest of our newsletter is dedicated to just a few reminders on our cancellation terms (as we have lots of our clients asking) and information on how you can now pay us hassle free via Stripe, but what would a newsletter from us be without more grand plans?! So here’s what we are hoping to do this year:

    • We already have a new business plan drafted for a day care and training centre. This year we are going to be looking for premises to launch it!
    • I am analyzing some of our canine clients with more specialized needs and seeing if we can improve our services for them, by having a dedicated and highly trained walker focusing on improving their walks and general wellbeing.
    • Hannah has been signed up to begin her training as a dog trainer, starting with the APDT foundation course.
    • We are hoping to expand our walks to Woking and more of Haslemere.
    • I am training as an agility instructor!

    Finally some of you may have seen that I have had a new addition… Patch!  Patch is a 6 month old border collie, rescued from an Irish pound, just days away from being put to sleep as an unwanted pup.  I fell in love with him and brought him home to live with me, Matthew and the dachshunds, who bizarrely accepted him without even a bark!  He is still quite nervous of strangers, but every day he grows in confidence.  You will see him out and about with me, as he is going to be a ‘stooge dog’ and my agility project!

    So we hope that gives you a whistlestop tour of what we’ve been up to in the past six months since our last newsletter.

    As always, we are so grateful to you, our wonderful clients for your continued support and for choosing us for your pet care needs.  We hope that you have a wonderful spring and summer and we  look forward to seeing you soon!

    Corrine x

  2. The Importance of Play for CatsWe are all familiar with the concept of playtime with our canine companions! Go into any Pet Superstore or online petshop and you will find a huge choice of dog-toys. Balls in all sizes and colours, squeaky plush toys, Kongs to keep them occupied, maze games, memory games...the list is endless. Lucky pooches! There are toys galore to keep them happy around the home and out on walkies. We even brought our Border Collie, Gizmo, a bubble machine for Christmas! He loves it :-)

    But what about our feline family members? Don't they deserve the right to play! 

    When we collected our two gorgeous kittens in October 2015, my hubbie was thoroughly bemused by the amount of 'cat-stuff' that Gabriel and I came back laiden down with from a pet-shop. If our gorgeous old duchess of a cat, Mo, could get by with simply indulging in her favourite pastime of hunting and playing with the odd blade of long-grass for amusement...why couldn't the kittens?

    Now, I know it is widely acknowledged that cats 'do their own thing' – usually sleeping...but ever since I was young, I have strongly believed that cats are just as much entitled to playtime as dogs. It is a vital part of their development as kittens and it is just as much about fun when they are adults. It also plays an important part in how we build a bond with our cats.

    Despite the mutterings that the kittens were being spoilt, Safi and Toothless happily spent their kittenhood chasing balls, jumping in and out of cardboard boxes, stalking feathers and going cat-nip crazy. Quite often, if they were playing individually to start with, they would eventually barrel into each other and play together. It was a lovely sight!

    Sadly, one day we lost Toothless to a passing car, and I was worried that Safi would lose her enthusiasm for play and become depressed. Playtime became essential to making sure she didn't feel alone or isolated without her sister. And one year one from that sad time, we have a cat who still very much loves to play. Safi now even expects her playtime (preferably when the hound is out and about, so that he can't muscle in on the game). She will often communicate which toy she wants to play with – currently the favourite is the fishing rod with feathers on the end. She loves playing football in the garden, and has even made use of the slide on Gabriel's climbing frame on more than one occasion! Picture 1 – Safi on slide 

    Cats PlayingLuckily for me, through looking after our ForPaws feline family, I see a wide selection of the cat-toys that people use to entertain their kitten-cats. I get to spend time encouraging our ForPaws Felines to chase 'red-dots', feathers, bouncy balls and string, or to roll around and go "catnip crazy" on an assortment of catnip-stuffed toys. It is fantastic to know that other people put just as much stock in the notion that playtime for cats is important as I do. And it doesn't have to cost a fortune either. One of Safi's strong favourites is simply an old walking boot-lace with a bell from one of her old collars tied to it, excellent for garden-chase and stalking games.

    I also love that there are a wide range of cat-games that cats can play on your tablet. Seriously...go on to YouTube and type in "Cat games for Cats only" and you will find umpteen games to keep your kitten entertained! Who says a cat can't be part of the Digital Age! 

    Safi on slideOne of my current favourites is the treat-puzzle (Trixie Cat Turnaround) that the lovely Lily loves to play with. According to Lily's mum, she got the hang of it very quickly and is amazingly good at getting her treats! And the fishing-rod feathers has been a massive hit with Safi along with ANYTHING CATNIP!!! I am sure as Safi gets older, she will become less inclined to play, preferring to find a nice cosy spot where she can snooze her time away. But, whilst she wants to play..I am more than happy to be her playmate.

    So, with so much inspiration around for enhancing our cat's leisure-times, we would absolutely love to hear what sort of things you, our ForPaws Family, do to entertain your cat or cats! 

    It may even help us on those occasions when we are lucky enough to look after them for you :-)

  3. Cheeky Dog WalkingI must confess, since I made the move to work with pets from working in IT, conversations when I meet new people are MUCH more fun.  Tell someone you work in IT and you can instantly see a slight flash of horror on their face as they mumble something about Windows or rebooting PCs, or start quoting lines from the IT Crowd at you.  Tell someone you work with pets for a living and most of the time, their eyes light up, the phone is whipped out and you are regaled with stories (and accompanying photo evidence) of this person's cherished pet - which are always adorable. At some point, they may take a break to tell me just how wonderful my job must be, and I smile, nod and agree and internally start giggling at all of the times that it has not been quite so wonderful!

    It is so easy to assume that because you are making a living out of your passion that every day must be pure bliss - which inspired me to write a new series of blogs, all about the business of being a dog walker and why, on some days, I may be feeling a slightly stronger kinship with Cruella DeVille, than a Disney Princess surrounded by helpful animals...