The Suffolk Fairydogmother shares the secrets of her dog walking business
- Credit: Archant
Tracy Root believes life is better with a dog. She should know - she’s the Suffolk Fairydogmother. Photography: Paul Nixon
It all came about when my good friend asked me to walk his dogs. A few months later I found myself out of work and he said, why don’t you start a dog walking business? At first I thought he was mad, but I gave it some thought and decided . . . why not?
My previous jobs were hairdressing and working in pubs, and at a photographer’s studio, so this was right out of my comfort zone. But something inside me made me take the plunge to start my own business. I’d never done it before so it was very scary. I’ve always worked hard for other people so now I’m doing it for myself.
I remember when I worked in a pub I would always spoil the dogs, getting them a treat and a drink, and someone said, ‘You’re like the fairy dogmother.’ The name stuck in my head, so I called my business The Suffolk Fairydogmother, as I’ve always lived in Suffolk.
I’m very lucky to have such supportive family and friends who encouraged me to do it. I had a friend who was involved in Suffolk Dog Day, the big charity event. She helped me to get insurance, my CRB check, a domain name for my website and all my dog information forms.
Another friend from M&M signs swiftly got to work with all the decals on my car. It looked amazing. She has since redone them on my new, bigger car! I took photos of the dogs I take walkies. It always makes people smile when they see it. My website was designed by Glenn, who owned The Lemontree Studio, where I worked. Then Hot off the Press put my logo on my teeshirts and on all the coats for my doggies.
I started out offering just dog walking, but now I offer day care, holiday stays and house sitting (and even the odd cat feeding). I’ve always loved photography, so my doggies go home with a photo. And I’ve always been a bit crafty, so I love making dog leads, collars, bandanas, coats, drying coats and personalised dog hooks.
My partner, The Dogfather, is now making a bespoke dog kennel, so the dogs can have somewhere to relax out of the sun.
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Doing my job is like winning the lottery – you’re free to do what you love every day. Being in the fresh air, walking in the countryside whatever the weather. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. It keeps me very fit and healthy, walking, on average, 14 miles a day. I have an ever extending family of dogs and I’ve made some wonderful friends.
Having a dog is very sociable, as you get to speak to so many people. As the saying goes, ‘Dogs aren’t our whole life, but make our lives whole.” They’re always happy to see us and live in the moment. They keep us fit and give us a reason to get up and go for walks, whatever the weather. They love unconditionally and seem to know how we’re feeling. If only more people were like dogs the world would be a happier place! They give us so much and are so good for our mental and physical well being.
I organised a charity dog walk from The Tuddenham Fountain around the beautiful Fynn Valley. It was wonderful. I thought no one would turn up, then 42 very excited dogs arrived. I did a raffle and gave out rosettes and everyone went home with dog treats. We made over £300 for The Dogs Trust and it really was the best day, watching all the dogs play, and the owners chatting, and finishing off with a lovely lunch.
The funniest moment has to be when I was looking after this gorgeous weimaraner puppy, Alfie. I always took a video as I walked in the door, as I wasn’t sure what I would find. This particular day, it was very quiet. I found him on the sofa, looking guilty. He’d bitten through a bean bag there were beans everywhere. All I could do was laugh. You can see the video on my Facebook page.
Golden rules. I’ve always said, if I do a job I have to do it properly, so that means good insurance and a CRB check. I’ve done a dog first aid course with Rhodes to Safety as I wanted to be confident that if something happened I could deal with it.
I always carry a first aid kit. And I’ve attended years of dog training classes with Simply Paws. Sarah has taught me so much about training, dog behaviour and dog signals. Dogs communicate with signals and it’s fascinating to watch what they’re saying to each other.
Find out more about The Suffolk Fairydogmother on Facebook