Could you tell us about the Walk n’ Roll story – what inspired you to start it up?
My inspiration has been three fold.
Firstly, my own dog Dita who is a five year old Jack Russell terrier. She is wonderful and has taught me the importance of exercise for a dog. I know how calm and balanced good exercise makes her feel and act. Since adopting her in 2007, I have read a lot around dog behaviour and ownership. The relationship between dogs and humans fascinates me and I love to work with them. I enjoy bringing a dog back to its house tired and content, knowing it will be relaxed until its owners return. I have always been an animal lover and really enjoy working with all kinds of pets. I feel the same skills and qualities apply whether it is a dog, cat or snake I am looking after. Respect the animal, be calm and assertive and ensure they are safe and content.
Secondly, I studied business at college and taught enterprise education to teenagers for five years, so I’ve always had a dream of starting my own business. I used to say to the kids, ‘You can only set up business in something you are passionate about’, and, well, I guess that’s another reason for doing what I’m doing now!
Thirdly, my partner and I used to live in Northern Ireland and for a while we struggled to find a service for Dita that we were happy with. Then we watched one day as new neighbours arrived opposite and pulled up in their van with Paws Patrol on the side. We couldn’t believe our luck. A dog walking and sitting service right next door. Paws Patrol are amazing, run by husband and wife, Andy and Stephanie, Dita used to bound up to their door, tail wagging. I cannot explain the relief of finally being able to head off on holiday and not worry. I use their business as an inspiration.
What’s the ethos behind Walk n’ Roll? Is there a particular service/ services you aim to offer, and what makes your business unique?
Walk n’ Roll’s objective is to offer both professional and caring services. I am fully insured and use the recommendations of the National Association of Registered Pet Sitters as a benchmark for my operations.
I adore animals and genuinely care for each that I work with. I take time when I first meet a client to get to know their needs and the needs of their pet. In the case of dog walking I offer to go on a walk with the owner and dog on first meeting so I can witness first hand their preferred walking experience. I don’t charge for this as I feel it is a necessary part of the introduction process.
I text updates when I have a pet in my care, and post pictures and videos on facebook.
As I operate solely on a bike, I start exercising the dogs the minute we leave the house. This is especially beneficial for dogs who don’t like cars, or those who are still being socialised. I don’t walk large packs of dogs, instead maximum two or three, and only if I am sure they work well together. I ensure each dog gets attention and has fun during their walks. I can often be seen running around with a dog in the middle of Roath Rec, playing.
Walk n’ Roll’s service is aimed first and foremost at the animal, but I am very aware of the positive impact on the owner(s). With this comes a responsibility to be reliable, punctual, to communicate well and fit my service to their lifestyle as best as I can. I like to think I help alleviate their worries about their pet. I help make their working day run smoother, their holiday more relaxed. I find immense job satisfaction in achieving this.
Why did you choose to open your business in Roath?
Myself and my partner (and Dita) decided to move to Cardiff last year. We made a few trips over to research the city and fell in love with Roath. It offers everything we were looking for; a good music and art scene; varied restaurants and bars; great parks for Dita. There’s a cool friendly vibe about Roath and the people we’ve met so far have been great. It made sense then to focus my business around the area in which I lived, hence why Walk n’ Roll operates mainly around Roath.
What sort of response have you had from customers so far?
I have had a great response so far, and, slowly but surely as more pet owners hear about me, my phone is ringing that bit more. I work with wonderful animals and enjoy getting to know each of them. I wake up looking forward to my day ahead. Today for example I am going to finish this then head off to walk one of my regulars, Gwenu. She is a stunning wheaten terrier with bags of energy and a love of everything.
I am lucky enough to now be in a position where I have both regular day to day dog walking clients and also repeat pet sitting clients. That’s not to say my diary is full! I am taking on new bookings for the foreseeable future.
I must also mention that I have had a great response and support from local businesses in Roath. I have met others in the same role, who have been open to sharing their experiences and offering me words of encouragement. The local veterinary practices have also been very supportive, offering advice and allowing me to display flyers. Heath Vets and Marlborough Road Vets in particular deserve a shout-out.
Do you have any 2013 plans you can share with us?
2013 will be an exciting year for me. The business will be established and I will be looking for ways to immerse myself further in the local animal welfare community.
Is there anything else you would like to add?