I have always been an outdoorsy type, loving nature, wilderness and animals. I was very lucky to own a horse as a child and teenager and again as a young 20/30 something.
I was always fascinated with the relationship that could be developed with an animal even with the speech and species barriers. This encouraged me to study natural horsemanship and understand how animals communicate with one another, their psychology; what is important to them, what helps motivate them and why.
This helped me realise that our increasingly demanding lifestyles frequently puts pressure on many pet owners who, whilst unquestionably love and care for their pet, fail to meet some of man's best friends' instinctive needs and wants.
A seed was sown and it didn't take long for a business idea to develop that could provide a solution. I wanted to create a day care environment which would not only be a secure, loving environment for dogs to receive all the exercise and attention they need, but to help owners enrich their dogs lives by providing activities for a dogs mental, emotional, social and behavioural needs.
Pawprints was officially born in 2015, but it was a very tough ride to get there. I found the perfect location, yet it had nothing there except for pigs, mud, mud and more mud. No facilities at all and the council needed to grant me permission to turn the site from agriculture to a business class. That was the first, monumental hurdle as permission was declined. Eventually after a lot of committee meetings, presentations and talks on the benefits of the business I successfully got the decision overturned and the go ahead was given.
Then started the build. This was tough. I had to get water, electrics and drainage installed. My bank balance was dwindling, as was my strength. There seemed to be an obstacle at every turn, but eventually the site was set up and business could commence.
Initially it was a team of just me. I look back and have no idea how I did it. I had dog clients to look after 12 hours a day, human clients to engage with, endless site management tasks and business admin to do in the evenings and weekends. I was on the go so much I developed Plantar Fasciitis in both feet and every step was like walking on broken glass. I remember being so exhausted one evening my partner suggested we go out for supper, I sat down in a pub and nearly fell asleep while eating! This was a far tougher ride than I had envisaged.
Luckily the business grew and with more clients I was able to slowly grow the team, but I then sadly had to face a series of personal tragedies. My beautiful horse died, my partner and I split up, my devoted dog died and then my mum died. It was the hardest time of my life. Pawprints was all I had. I was broken in so many different ways I didn't know how I could carry on, but my friends, Pawprints and all the clients held me up and gave me strength and purpose.
The business continued to grow and with that we expanded the size of the centre, and developed new exercise areas. The team was settled and enjoyed each day managing the daily/weekly/monthly challenges that all businesses have to face with a smile on our face and determination in our hearts, until 2020 and the year of CoronaVirus. This hit us hard and we had to close for several months. We have reopened but with vastly reduced numbers. My hope is that the new normal establishes itself soon and that people's lives and work patterns are reestablished so that we can once again help to care for and enrich clients' dogs lives.
Pawprints is my life, my pride, my passion and my privilege.
Thank you for listening to me.