Marilyn – Dog care HampshireMarilyn Gilbert 

My husband and I both still work part-time; my husband works mornings and I work from home as a Nutritional Therapist.

We have had our own dogs for 30 years, both golden retrievers. Calla, our first, delighted in showing customers the menus and wine list in our restaurant we owned and ran in Wingham, Kent. She was also always seen wrapping herself protectively around our baby son. Yaegar, our second, who lived healthily till nearly 16 (thanks to Chappie I am sure and his 3 x 50 minute walks a day), just loved to accompany us on our 5-mile walks at weekends, leaping over stiles and landing in mud etc. as boys do. We have never left our dogs in kennels as I could not bear to see those doleful eyes that retrievers can easily portray – they smile and I always wanted to see our dogs smile. So we have always rented cottages in the UK and taken our dogs with us.DSCN0321

I decided to become a Holidays 4 Dogs carer when we had Yaegar as we both love dogs and thought a few more occasionally would be lovely. The best thing about being a carer is that we meet many different dogs with different personalities (or dogalities!) as well as their owners who are as discerning as we are about where their dogs are left when they go away. I do my best to ensure their dogs will be well looked after and I liken it to when I used to be a registered childminder, which I did for 11 years – it was always the mums who needed support, not the babies and I used to encourage the mums to phone at, say 11 and again at 2 for the first few days to find out how their little ones are settling. To this end I take it upon myself to e-mail my clients during their holiday to inform them how their dog is settling and what he/she has been up to. All of them are most grateful for this contact. It is so gratifying to see them settle in so quickly as I believe that dogs, like children, practise mindfulness, living for the present, so they soon forget missing their owners and just enjoy their time with us.DSCN0314[1]

DSCN0312[1]We try to emulate their life at home as much as possible with food placed in a similar room at the same time, treats given at the same time, walks taken appropriately, with lots of play, cuddles and interaction and sleeping arrangements that they are used to. I do draw the line at dogs sleeping on our bed now as Yaegar used to jump off in the middle of the night and wake everyone up – in his later years he used to literally fall off, which was not acceptable. However, dogs are welcome to share our bedroom; most of them prefer this as they feel they can protect us better when they are with us, which makes sense, as that is how dogs think! I am sure we all sleep better because of them sleeping in our bedroom.

It is very sad when our guest dogs have to go home as we have begun to get used to each other, and the house is quiet again, but it is lovely to know the owners have had a relaxing holiday, happy in the knowledge that their beloved pet has been well looked after and had a happy holiday too. We look forward to meeting you and your beloved pet.

Marilyn  x