Some of the successful dog-friendly businesses in Surrey

PUBLISHED: 12:04 27 August 2019

Clare Walpole loves working with dogs in the great outdoors (Photo by Clare Warpole Photography)

Clare Walpole loves working with dogs in the great outdoors (Photo by Clare Warpole Photography)

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Dogs are a man’s best friend, so it’s no wonder pup-friendly businesses are booming – especially here in Surrey

We are said to be a nation of dog lovers, something that we at Surrey Life strongly agree with. We have an office dog, Bruno the boxer, who lifts our collective spirits whenever he springs by and our county is one of the best places to enjoy a scenic dog walk. It's no wonder then that doggie businesses are booming in Surrey.

For most people their dog is seen as a member of the family, a sentiment that dog photographer Clare Walpole aims to capture in her portraits. Based in Addlestone, Clare combined her two greatest passions, dogs and photography, by setting up a business specialising in dog portraits four years ago - Clare creates her beautifully lit portraits of pooches in her Addlestone studio, but also has a mobile studio that she can set up in people's own homes. Her biggest passion, however, is capturing dogs enjoying life in the great outdoors.

"I absolutely love photographing dogs with a sunset in the background or splashing through water and some of my favourite places to shoot are Virginia Water, St Anne's Hill, Horsell Common and Newlands Corner," she explains.

A recent study found that dogs evolved 'puppy dog eyes' to help them get on better with humans. Capturing the look that tugs at our heart stings so well is a big part of Clare's work. She says: "I believe a dog's personality is reflected in its eyes and so I make it my main objective to capture their character this way."

They say you should never work with animals or children and convincing a dog to sit still for a portrait does seem like somewhat of a fool's errand. However, Kerry Jordan, the woman behind dog photography business Fur & Fables, says there are some tips and tricks you can learn to get your pet to strike a pose. "I ask the owners if they can do some sit and wait training before the shoot - it makes a huge difference and I only need a fraction of a second to get the shot. I also have a plethora of weird noises I make to get their attention. If that fails, a duck caller or scrunching up a crisp packet usually works," she explains.

Based on the Sussex/Surrey border, Kerry set up Fur & Fables after years as a wedding and family photographer. "In 2013 I created a page for photographs of my own whippets - gradually I started getting commissions from people for their dogs. Last year I decided to go 100% dogs and it's the best decision I could have made," she enthuses.

Like Clare, Kerry loves photographing dogs in Surrey's beauty spots and cites Devil's Punch Bowl and Frensham Little ponds as her favourite spots. But she likes to work collaboratively with owners and says it's important to work with each dog's individual personality when deciding where to shoot. "I want the whole experience to be as fun and stress free for both the owner and their dog," she says.

When your dog is a member of the family, you don't want to leave them at any old dog kennel when you go on holiday. This is especially true if your dog requires lots of exercise and was the reason why Caroline Osgood decided to turn her Ockley home into a hotel for greyhounds earlier this year.

"We worry so much about who will look after our babies when we go away, and as any greyhound owner knows, greyhounds are so different to other dogs. We could never put them in a kennel due to their previous life experiences and as other owners must find, it's so difficult to find somewhere suitable with someone you trust," Caroline explains.

To solve this problem Caroline and her husband set up Parklands Farm Greyhound Hotel at their 16th century farmhouse, which is set in the rolling Surrey Hills near Leith Hill. At the hotel, greyhounds can enjoy exercising in an acre of dog-friendly grounds, daily walks in the fields and woodlands, their own lounge in the farmhouse with their own TV and plenty of homemade biscuits. Caroline has been passionate about greyhounds since she was a teenager and rescued her first dog in 2005. She likes to treat all the dogs at the hotel like one of the family during their stay and even offers a tailored dog wash treatment and pet portrait session with a local photographer.

Most dogs will eat almost anything given half the chance, but one treat they really love is fish. This came as something as a revelation to fish industry worker Stewart Irvine and led him to co-found Surrey-based fish snack company WOOFS in April 2017.

"Together with a friend of mine, David Judd, we came up with Wild Ocean Omega3 Fish Snacks Ltd., to trade under the acronym WOOFS. We decided to be the first in the industry to provide the consumer with full traceability and provenance. We agreed that we would, whenever possible, manufacture MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) accredited products in a plant in the UK, to give consumers complete peace of mind, as to where the goods come from."

WOOFS currently produces a range of fish-based treats for dogs, including cod cookies, cod fingers, cod crunchers, cod cubes, dried sprats and a cod skin granola. 2019 was a big year for the company as it saw them trade at Crufts for the first time

As important as a healthy diet is exercise - for both dog and owner. Canicross, which allows owners to cross country run with their dogs attached to their midriff with a harness, has become an increasingly popular sport in the UK. Guildford-based DogFit not only sells all the equipment needed to get started but also has a team of certified trainers, who deliver the sport of canicross throughout the UK.

DogFit also works with Surrey dog charity Rescue Remedies to help limit the distress often seen in dogs living in kennels. Nicky Helyer, kennel co-ordinator at Rescue Remedies, says: "Introducing canicross to our rescue dogs has been one of the best things we've ever done. We've seen hugely positive changes in the dogs including a significant decrease in frustration based behaviours and their confidence levels substantially increasing." 


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