An Interview with Charlie - The Pet Nanny
Hi Charlie, thank you so much for being involved in the Girl Gang Chat. Please introduce yourself: Hiya! I’m Charlie, also known as The Pet Nanny. I live in Beckenham with my 2 dogs; Echo, 9, is a Weimaraner and a complete mummy’s girl. She is the 2nd in command when it comes to things running smoothly and isn’t afraid to show the others what they should and shouldn’t be doing! She is a great role model and I’m so lucky to have her in tow. Jupiter, 2, is an American Bulldog mix that I rescued March 2018. He is full of beans and is great for the younger dogs to play with – people are often wary as he’s a big boy, but he is so gentle and loving that within minutes of meeting him they’re besotted by him. He loves nothing more than chasing a ball, and would do it for hours on end if he could!
How did your business ‘The Pet Nanny” start?
I’ve worked within the doggy day care industry for nearly 5 years. After my 4th year, I decided to leave the company I was employed by and set up on my own. It was the scariest thing I have ever chosen to do, but by far the most rewarding! Is there anything better than being greeted by a smiling doggy with a wagging tail!? I was encouraged by friends, family and clients to take the leap of faith and have never looked back! It took off much quicker that I ever could have anticipated, and I’m now on the hunt for a field to rent to expand the business further!
Have you always had a love for animals?
Even as a young child, I have always been obsessed with all animals both large and small. I would spend time watching every David Attenborough documentaries and studying all types of wildlife books. A trip to the zoo or aquarium was a perfect day for me – I even had my heart set on becoming a zookeeper. I studied Animal Care, Management & Sciences at college for 4 years, before training in all sorts of animal related jobs; from vet nurses, to dog grooming, to pet shops, to stables, I’ve covered almost everything!
I know it is mainly dogs you look after, what other animals do you also care for?
There is no animal that I wouldn’t be happy to care for. Although I spend most of my day out in the parks with the dogs, I’ve also been booked for to care for cats, rabbits, chickens, parrots, rats, hamsters, snakes and lizards – there isn’t much I haven’t looked after; I was even booked to maintain a tarantula breeders’ collection whilst he was away!
Looking after dogs all day everyday must make each day different and unpredictable, is there anything you find challenging?
When you’re surrounded by dogs, you learn a trick or two in predicting what’s about to happen. Each day is different, but in the best possible way. Dogs provide so much entertainment if you just observe them (hence why I’m always taking photos and videos and uploading them to my social media!) and I spend most of my day laughing and amazed at these clever creatures. The most challenging thing for me for sure is the weather! You have days when it’s chucking it down and windy, and your brand-new waterproof gear has proven itself to be useless, so you’re soaked through to the bone, and I find myself thinking… I can’t wait for today to be over! But then you glance over at the dogs, who are running care-free and normally caked in mud, and it doesn’t seem so bad! On the flip side, there’s nothing better than strolling through the park on a summer’s day, catching a tan and watching the dogs play. I can’t imagine being stuck behind a desk in an office rather than frolicking through the fields with the pooches!
Have you ever been in a situation where you have had to handle an aggressive or unruly dog?
In the past, I have handled dogs with all sorts of behavioural issues, from fear aggression, lead aggression, reactive dogs, agoraphobic dogs, people aggression and dogs with no recall. We were able to help train some of these dogs, and as a result were happier and living a fuller life. By no means would I call myself a dog trainer, but with experience comes knowledge, and I’m confident when it comes to these troubled doggies. When I first meet a dog & their owner, we cover everything, so I know all about the dog before I agree to take them on. If it’s something I feel I can help them with, I will of course spend time working on any behavioural issues, and if I feel like it’s beyond my capabilities, I have some great contacts within the dog behaviourist industry that I recommend, normally with the view of working with them to get the dog to a point that I can take over and they can join us on our walks. Dogs are pack animals, so it's
important that they know from the off that they’re not in charge. This is the reason so many dogs act differently with their walker than they do with their owner – we put strict boundaries in place from the very first walk so they know what is expected of them and what is acceptable and what isn’t. I believe that you can, of course, teach an old dog new tricks.
What do you enjoy most about your job and having your own business?
The reason I do what I do is because of how much I love spending time with my own dogs. They’re with me most of the day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the fact I have the freedom to pick which parks we walk in, and building personal, 1 on 1 relationships with both the animals I care for and their owners. I can choose the hours I work and the doggies I care for – and luckily, I have a bunch of dogs that are amazing! I also bring my granddad along to some of the walks I do, which I would never have been able to do previously. Towards the end of last year, he lost his own dog, who was his companion for some years, and found himself with a void he couldn’t fill. The dogs we walk together love him tremendously, and they spend the entire time looking for him until he joins us!
What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting their own business?
My advice would be… DO IT! If you have a passion for something, or a hobby you love, and you can make a career from it, you’ll regret it if you don’t try. I spent a few years working at a job I didn’t enjoy and it takes over your life! I hated getting up in the morning and would spend the whole day watching the clock and waiting for the day to be over. Now, the time flies by and I spend the whole day doing what I love to do! It doesn’t feel like work. As with anything, it can take a while to get it up and running, and things may not always run smoothly, or pick up as quickly as you may like, but the only way you can fail at it is if you stop trying. Keep focused and keep going!
Finally, what is your ‘me time’ moment?
When I’m not caked in mud or throwing balls in the park, I like nothing more than to snuggle up with my dogs and get stuck into a good thriller – I can often finish a book in a few days if the dogs stay asleep for long enough! Weekends are often spent with friends and their dogs, exploring new places and stopping off at the pub for some lunch!