As in the last few years, the month of December was filled with thousands of miles driven by the Teixeira-Dykes family to ensure that our dogs spent Christmas with us. Every year we make our way to Folkestone where we board a train to Calais, shut the engine down and relax for half an hour waiting to be transported to France. Of course this means driving more miles than if we used the ferry services from Plymouth to Santander or from Portsmouth to Bilbao, but we prefer having the dogs with us the whole time and making a city break of it by overnighting in different cities on the way down and then again on the return journey. It also means avoiding the choppy waters sometimes encountered during the crossing.
In France, we have explored Lille, Amiens, Rouen, Le Mans and of course Paris (amongst others). In Spain, our top choice is always Bilbao, which we have fallen in love with. Not only do we book dog-friendly hotels on the way but also try to find cafés, bars, restaurants and parks where Oscar and Ollie will be welcomed and fussed over. This seems to be the case in most places in Europe but we still encounter the odd business that doesn’t allow dogs inside, so our choice is more often than not to spend our dosh elsewhere. Of course there are places that we would rather enjoy alone, just the 2 of us, so it’s important to know that we can leave them safely in the comfort of a hotel room. You’d be surprised to see how many receptionists offer dog bowls, treats and cuddles and how many waive the dog charge when they realise how quiet and well-behaved our dogs are.
The highlights of our trip (apart from being overfed by the extended family during the festive period) are always finding beaches, lakes, fountains, any water whatsoever where these 2 can get wet and expend their endless energy. These moments also make for good photo and video opportunities.
Sometimes the Christmas drive is interrupted by a work trip which means leaving Paul and the dogs in Portugal, flying back to London for work and then back to Portugal again. The things you do for your dogs…
Some of the things to remember when driving through Europe with your dogs are (sounds obvious but we have forgotten them in the past…) taking their Pet Passports, ensuring that their vaccinations are up to date, but most importantly remembering to have them booked-in for worming before they return to the UK; this is something that isn’t really checked on the way out but is definitely a deal-breaker on the way back. Not only do you need to have the date but also the time recorded in your pet’s passport. Forget one or the other and you’ll have problems clearing the Calais Customs. You are given the opportunity to visit a local vet but it will probably be at a premium emergency cost and you’ll be asked to wait 48 hours so that the treatment takes effect. Nightmare!!
The other thing to remember is that all dogs must be chipped. This check is done by scanning the back of the dog’s neck with a device the size of an arm. A lot of dogs don’t like the look of it so owners are encouraged to do the scanning themselves. If the dog is chipped and is not showing any obvious signs of sickness, you’re on your way to check-in and if you’re early you can even board an earlier train. Just don’t be late as it can prove an expensive experience.
Every year we witness other travellers in distress trying to sort out dog-related problems minutes before their train departs. The closest we’ve been to this was in our first year after the Portuguese vet recorded the date of the worming treatment but not the time. This is important to ensure that at least 48 hours have passed since. Another time we left the UK without the dogs’ passports but luckily they weren’t needed on the way out and we travelled for over a month so we had them posted to us abroad. Phew…
If you can, arrive at the terminal with plenty of time. Not only will you be allowed to take an earlier train if space is available but also take advantage of the tax-paid offers on booze, fragrances, etc and also let your dog run around in the dog agility area provided. All in all, a great option if, like us, you don’t fancy putting your pet in a plane’s cargo compartment. Just make sure you book early to avoid extortionate prices.
When I was a lot younger I always wondered about a career in hairdressing, I always thought it was something I would enjoy and could be good at. Hairdressing wasn’t meant to be, I ended up in retail, banking and then cabin crew… but hairdressing of another sort came to be my passion and route to happiness!
In March 2017 I took Voluntary Redundancy from my cabin crew job and decided to take the plunge into the mad world of dog grooming! I spent a few days with some friends of friends in their dog grooming salon in Putney to get a feel for it and I was hooked. I enrolled almost immediately with Dogs Delight in Chiswick and did their intensive 28 day course. It was a crazy 28 days full of fun and a lot of hard work. This gave me a City & Guilds qualification in dog grooming and the start I needed to make my own salon a reality. I’ve had fantastic support from my partner, friends and family during the transition and the creation of Byron’s Dogs! I settled on Byron’s Dogs as Byron is our rescue Staffy X we got from Battersea 5 years ago, he’s been quite happy having me home 95% of the time and making lots of new doggy friends.
Dog grooming can be a hard and sometimes lonely job. But the positives vastly outweigh the negatives. The happiness I can help bring to our customers when their beloved pooch goes home all freshly trimmed and smelling divine is lovely to see. It’s equally rewarding seeing the improvements in behaviour of dogs that have had a tough time with grooming before slowly getting used to it and becoming more and more comfortable with me and being groomed. I couldn’t be happier with the change in career and hope we continue to grow our experience and knowledge!
Merry Christmas to all and a prosperous New Year!
I have to confess. I used to be a cat person. I mean, I liked dogs too and I found them cute, but I knew how high maintenance they could be and as far as taking care of them… no way. Ever since I can remember, we always had lots of animals around us. We had almost every animal you could imagine: cats, dogs, horses, chickens, sheep, hedgehogs, mice and the list goes on and on.
I thought it was literally impossible for me to ever adopt a dog on my own. Little did I know, I just needed to be in the right place.
That was when my husband and I first moved to the UK from Canada. We chose a small beautiful village on the outskirts of Exeter to live in. I didn’t know anyone. Also I was working from home. That made me feel isolated at times. So we decided to adopt a dog to relieve the isolation.
I remember the first time I met Raisin, our toy poodle. I instantly fell in love with those little mischievous eyes. Through walking her, I got to meet a lot of people and I made many friends. The joy of taking care of Raisin inspired me to open an online dog shop called Your Fluffy Friend to provide quality yet affordable products. It was a bit challenging at the beginning because I didn’t know much about e-Commerce. However, today, after over a year of hard work, we are delighted to say that we have over 6,000 genuine subscribers to our store. We also carry the top dog product brands; such as: KONG, Gor Pets, Patento, The Company of Animals and etc.
Every year, Your Fluffy Friend contributes 10% of the store’s profit to the following charities: Children’s Hospice SW, Paradise Charity Group and Refugee Support Devon.
Have a look at our store and the great deals we offer at www.yourfluffyfriend.co.uk
The Muddy Dog Challenge 2018
I’ve never had dogs before and not really had much contact with them other than having friends with dogs and going on the occasional walk. Little did I know what I was missing. Terri and I brought Lottie, our wonderful chocolate cockerpoo, into our family just over a year now and could not have imagined how much joy and fun she would bring into our lives nor how many lovely people we would meet and new friends we would make when taking her for walks.
We decided to get Lottie after looking after Crumpet, a miniature schnauzer, and Belle, another lovely cockerpoo. We loved looking after them and hated it when we had to let them go back to their owners. So we started researching breeders, visited a couple and fell in love with little Lottie. She came home with us in November last year.
Lottie loves being out and about, running after balls and frisbees and being with other dogs. Living in London, we agreed we should try and do different activities with Lottie each weekend including visiting all the different parks in and out of London and take Lottie on runs together. The running hasn’t quite happened yet, still in training to get training, but it’s on the New Year’s resolution list for 2019!
This past July I received an email from Belle’s owner, Omi, who’d discovered a Tough Mudder for Dogs called The Muddy Dog Challenge, which supports Battersea Home for Dogs and Cats. She asked if we fancied signing up to do the Tunbridge Wells event with another one of her friends’ cockerpoo, the excellently named Colin. It would be a 5km run with lots of different dog-friendly obstacles including ramps, water and ball pools, and runs through muddy wood trails. What better way to spend a Saturday with friends and dogs than running round beautiful countryside and getting muddy? So we signed up and ‘The Three Cockerteers’ team was created.
The event was great fun and we were lucky to have a sunny September day for the run. It was well organised and registration for an owner and dog cost £35. For that you get a Muddy Dog Challenge T Shirt and bandana for your dog and your challenger number and bracelet. There is an easy to use website with videos providing training tips for the dogs in preparation for the run, instructions on how to raise donations along with the rules for the event. We set up a team Just Giving page to raise donations.
When you arrive, there is a great village fête atmosphere with loads of different dogs all getting excited to do the run. There are various stalls where you can get drinks, and a good variety of food and doggie gifts.
When you register, you are given options to set off at a specific time, we chose 12.30pm. A fitness trainer does a 5-minute warm-up session with the owners and dogs before you set off. When you do set off for the run, it’s up to you at what pace you want to go, so you can run it or just do a brisk walk. Either way it’s meant to be a fun event for everyone, so no pressure on being a major athlete. We met some lovely people on the way round, and Belle, Lottie and Colin were in their element chasing each other as we ran along. They loved the water and ramp obstacles, and we all got pretty muddy! We eventually crossed the finish line, had our photos taken and took the dogs to get washed off before having a well-earned hot cup of tea and chocolate brownies. We also managed to raise £300 for Battersea Home for Dogs and Cats.
It was a great day out, and I highly recommend it. There are Muddy Dog Challenges all over the country that take place during the year, including one in Battersea Park, and you can register here now for the 2019 events.