While the pandemic has meant a ‘paws’, Stef Spode and partner Jon Crotty are fighting to resume Wild Ones Adventure Dogs.
The couple launched their service in April 2019 and, after a slow start, things picked up just after Christmas and in the early part of this year everything was going well.
Stef said: “We have five collies, and we also breed collies.
“I worked with local councils for many years and have wide experience working with them on all kind of dog-related issues, from dog fighting to nuisance dogs.
“So when we moved here from England and started the company I knew exactly what form the business was going to take.
“Most of the issues around problem dogs stem from them not being exercised enough.
“They may have a walk in the morning and one in the evening, but if their owners are out at work, the dogs spend the day home alone, with no company and no stimulus.”
Stef explained that Wild Ones differs from other dog walking enterprises because they take the dogs (up to a maximum of four at any one time) out for two hours on hikes, along forest tracks, up hills – so that the dogs get a thorough work out.
Stef said: “We’re different to other dog walkers who will pick the dogs up, walk them round the park, and then drop them off.
“This means the dogs get hyped up, and that energy comes out at home in barking, chewing things and generally being disruptive, because they have had only a small amount of exercise and are not tired out.
“In a two hour hike with us the dog burns off a great deal of energy in a natural environment, where they experience different scents and sounds, and with a small number of dogs we can build a bond and give them much more personal attention.
“ Things have got complicated because of uncertainty around changing regulations.
They were allowed to open up but with the proviso that dogs must be on leads.
Stef and Jon have gone to the Scottish Government to plead their case for taking the dogs out without leads, as having them on leads goes against their business ethos.
They are still waiting for clarity on the issue.
A future option may be to start boarding dogs, and this is something they are considering.
So Stef and Jon’s dog adventures remain in hiatus at the moment, as with people at home or out of work, they are able to give their dogs more attention than normal.
No doubt once lockdown eases further and the pair get positive news from Holyrood, they’ll be back in the hills and forest tracks with their devoted canine clients.