A dog-lover’s guide to Surrey - best walks and doggie pubs to stunt double dog trainers
- Credit: Penelope Malby
Long known as a county of dog-lovers, here we meet just a few of the people in Surrey who have devoted their lives to our four-legged friends, as well as finding out their favourite walks in the area, plus some great ideas for pet-friendly pubs
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2015
Our canine companions have been at our sides for thousands of years and, to this day, they remain an essential part of many people’s lives. With an endless aim to please us, a buoyancy of playfulness and a loyalty that never runs out, it is easy to see why Surrey has fallen under their spell.
Long known as a county of dog-lovers, this was borne out by the record turnouts this summer at doggie events such as DogFest at Loseley Park in June, which included demonstrations from Channel 4’s Supervet among other highlights, and Painshill Park’s Pooch Day in July.
So, not surprisingly, from dog trainers and rescue workers to dedicated animal photographers, there are a plethora of individuals across Surrey who devote their lives to these intelligent creatures.
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One such devotee is Ripley-based dog trainer, Colin Skeaping, a former stuntman to the stars, who has played the stunt doubles of James Bond, Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker in his adventurous career. During this time, professionals would bring their dogs onto the film sets as he had a natural flair for training them.
“The dogs could have a variety of reasons for which they needed training, such as being frightened on set,” he says. “So I would take time to train them in order to help tackle their issues.”
Nowadays, training and competing with dogs has been a huge part of Colin’s life for the past 30 years and he competes primarily with bearded collies, as he believes they are working dogs that enjoy learning and keeping their brains occupied.
Colin, who has three dogs of his own, says: “My dogs love being active and I also teach dog training and agility lessons in Ripley three times a week.
“My job is so rewarding. If the dogs love you, they will always be on your side. Their love and devotion is extraordinary and 90 percent of my life revolves around them.”
Over the years, Colin has often had his dogs photographed by Penelope Malby, who began her career as an animal trainer on films, photo shoots and commercials.
She is now a dedicated animal photographer and also runs Surrey-based training venture, Dog Communications, with her business partner.
“With my involvement in animal training and behaviour, it was a natural progression for me to do more and more animal photography,” says Penelope. “I needed to be at home more for my own dogs, so starting my own photography business in conjunction with Dog Communication made sense.”
Penelope works from her home studio in Tadworth where she has access to the wonderful Surrey countryside to use as her photographic backdrop.
“My priority is always the animal’s emotional wellbeing so that they feel happy and relaxed,” she adds. “If a dog or cat doesn’t feel happy, it is reflected in the photos too.”
Earlier this year, Penelope had the exciting experience of photographing for Crufts, which she describes as a ‘dog photographer’s dream’.
“It is great to be able to spend so much time with and around animals – whether they are dogs with issues at Dog Communication – or photographing them in my studio,” she continues.
“I feel so fortunate that I have found a way to make my living by doing two jobs that I absolutely love. I meet so many lovely people and even more gorgeous dogs.”
Best in show
Another individual who puts dogs above anything else is the owner of Epsom Canine Rescue, Nikki Weeks-Taylor. The centre has been a registered charity with a handful of dedicated volunteers since 1995 and homes dogs within a 20-mile radius of Reigate.
“We do all our own home checks and follow-up visits as we feel that we know best what type of home is suited to the dog in need and pride ourselves on getting the right home first time, therefore alleviating any further stress for the dog,” says Nikki.
“In spite of all the heartache and challenges, anyone who is involved in some form of rescue will agree that it is so worthwhile seeing a dog that has had a poor start in life, happy and settled in their forever home.”
From rehoming to behaviour problems, Pauline Gloyens started Surrey Dog Training in Guildford after Lucy, her black lab, was in need of some serious obedience training.
“She was so badly behaved that the first person I told, that I wanted to be a dog trainer, laughed for ten minutes – Lucy and I were probably the most unlikely candidates in Surrey.
“To this day, I believe that without her I might still be working in insurance in the City. We lost her a couple of weeks ago, which was very sad, but like all Labradors she was stoical, wagging her tail and enjoying biscuits until her last breath.”
Dog training has been part of Pauline’s life for over a decade and the experience has taught her that it is extremely easy to be outwitted by a puppy as they are absolute experts at doing what you ask of them if you have a treat in your hand.
“You can have the illusion that you have the dog under control when really you haven’t,” says Pauline. “The truth usually comes out in the end when the last morsel of sausage has been consumed.”
It’s a dog’s life
One couple that understand the mischievousness of puppies only too well are Julia and Paul Cretu who run Doggie Day Care in Effingham Junction. They set up their day care business back in 2009, and often find themselves picking up pooches from London clients to look after them in the green open spaces of Surrey.
“Our clients mainly come from Clapham,” says Julia. “We are able to collect their dogs and look after them at the centre for as long as they need.”
Having gone from strength to strength since they opened, Julia and Paul currently take in up to 50 dogs at a time at their bespoke centre, which offers a range of luxuries for their ‘guests’ including a swimming pool, agility course, acres of grass to run on and an indoor cabin complete with sofas and heating.
“We are very lucky to have found a place in such a great location to look after the dogs,” adds Julia. “It’s a dream come true.”
With our rolling countryside, woodland walks and often pet-friendly pubs, there is no denying that Surrey is an ideal place to raise a dog, and our canine specialists, rescue workers and devoted owners are doing a great job of looking after them.
• Get in touch! From wonderful walks to pooch- friendly pubs, we’d love to hear about your own doggie adventures around Surrey, so do drop us a line. Send an e-mail to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us via Facebook and Twitter
Here, a few of our interviewees share their favourite local dog walks
Dog trainer/competitor, Colin Skeaping
“I have two favourites; the Surrey Hills going down to Newlands Corner, and The Canal walk between Send and Guildford.”
Photographer/trainer, Penelope Malby
“Here in Surrey, we tend to walk near to where we live in Tadworth, on the heath. Banstead Woods is another favourite – and I grew up walking our family dogs on Farthing Downs in Coulsdon.”
Rescue worker, Nikki Weeks-Taylor
“Epsom is a gorgeous area to take the dog out with plenty of parks and also woodland trails to explore.”
Dog trainer, Pauline Gloyens
“Without a doubt, if you have a young puppy, Pewley Downs in Guildford is perfect as it is both flat and open so you can see and plan ahead.”
Day care provider, Julia Cretu
“A stunning place to walk your dog in the summer is Nonsuch Park in Cheam – because it is full of acres of open space for my dogs to enjoy.”
Award-winning Surrey dog crèche business, Bruce’s Doggy Day Care, has launched a #DogFriendlyDining campaign to highlight great dog-friendly eateries in the county. They’re asking local people to send in their recommendations, which will feature on the Bruce’s Doggy Day Care website and social media. To kick things off, here’s their top five…
1 The Jolly Farmer, Guildford
Burdenshot Road, Whitmore Common, Worplesdon, Guildford GU3 3RN
Great for dog walks on nearby Whitmore Common followed by traditional food, fine cask ales and lovely friendly staff who happily coo over your dog!
Contact: 01483 234658 / jollyfarmerworplesdon.co.uk
2 The Old Plough, Cobham
Station Road, Stoke D’Abernon, Cobham KT11 3BN
Super-friendly with an amazing beer garden, this one’s always busy so make sure you and your four-legged friends get there in good time.
Contact: 01932 862244 / oldploughcobham.co.uk
3 The Bear, Oxshott
Leatherhead Road, Oxshott KT22 OJE
Another busy one, but well worth a visit for its fabulous atmosphere and roaring open fire in the winter; perfect for sleeping dogs!
Contact: 01372 842747 / thebearoxshott.co.uk
4 The Swan, Walton
50 Manor Road, Walton-on-Thames KT12 2PF
Situated on the river, there’s a huge beer garden here, with the added bonus of delicious, seasonal, home-cooked food.
Contact: 01932 225964 / swanwalton.com
5 The Thames Court, Shepperton
Towpath, Shepperton TW17 9LJ
Popular with locals from Shepperton and nearby Weybridge, it offers another fabulous riverside beer garden loved by four legs and two!
Contact: 01932 221957 / vintageinn.co.uk
• Bruce’s Doggy Day Care, Cobham. Web: brucesdoggydaycare.co.uk. Facebook: facebook.com/brucesdoggydaycare Twitter: @brucesdogdays
Colin Skeaping, Performing Dogs,Ripley
Tel: 07860 756708
Penelope Malby, Dog Communications, Tadworth
Tel: 07831 173773
Nikki Weeks-Taylor, Epsom Canine Rescue, Epsom
Tel: 01883 334515
Pauline Gloyens, Surrey Dog Training, Guildford
Tel: 07543 652840
Julia Cretu, Doggie Day Care, Effingham Junction
Tel: 07590 266 910