An­i­mal earn­ers:

The busi­ness of pets

Norfolk - - INSIDE - WORDS: Rachel Buller

Louise Ray­ment-Dy­ble, head vet and co-founder at All Crea­tures Health­care, Hors­ford, grew up sur­rounded by ex­otic wildlife at her par­ent’s small zoo in Bed­ford­shire. She set up her prac­tice in 2009 and around half her pa­tients are ex­otics.

“We reg­u­larly treat lizards, snakes, tortoises, par­rots, birds of prey and small mammals such as rab­bits, guinea pigs and fer­rets. We also treat fish and am­phib­ians.

“Our most un­usual case was do­ing den­tal work on a tiny puffer fish un­der a gen­eral anaes­thetic. Our pa­tients can range in size from a 30kg gi­ant Sul­cata tor­toise to a 5g crested gecko.

“We have per­formed a cae­sarean on a tiny mon­key, put an obese skunk on a diet, treated a penguin for arthri­tis, spayed a tor­toise, re­moved a metal nail from the stom­ach of a duck, made a pros­thetic beak for a cock­a­too and rou­tinely treat toothache in guinea pigs and vac­ci­nate pet fer­rets.”

She says there has been a growth in the num­ber of peo­ple own­ing ex­otic pets but that it is es­sen­tial to do your home­work and get ad­vice first.

“Some­thing that looks re­ally cool, like a chameleon, needs a spe­cial vi­var­ium, high hu­mid­ity and the right diet and sup­ple­ments so if you don’t get that right they won’t sur­vive. Don’t im­pulse buy – that beau­ti­ful macaw might look nice in your house and talk and en­ter­tain your guests, but it might live 20-plus years, it will be re­ally noisy – and I mean dawn shriek­ing – its beak can chew through your nice cur­tains and fur­ni­ture and if it gets stressed, un­happy or lonely it might pull all its feath­ers out.”

Treat­ment for ex­otic pets of­ten re­quires a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to con­ven­tional an­i­mals “If we need to op­er­ate on a tor­toise, first we need to cut through the shell with a DIY type cut­ting tool as it’s solid bone. Af­ter the surgery, we need to use stain­less steel wires and resins to re­pair the hole – it’s more chal­leng­ing than just cut­ting and stitch­ing!” all­crea­tureshealt­h­

YOU ARE PLAN­NING a hol­i­day but who will look af­ter your beloved dog?

For some peo­ple, this can be enough to put them off tak­ing a break. But what if you knew your dog was go­ing to be en­joy­ing a hol­i­day at a home-from-home where their nor­mal routine and be­hav­iour is to­tally catered for?

That’s the ethos be­hind PetS­tay, which matches spe­cially cho­sen car­ers with clients’ dogs. Sophia Guymer is the Nor­folk PetS­tay fran­chise owner and cur­rently has 19 car­ers on her books across the county and would love to re­cruit more.

Sophia, who was pre­vi­ously a vet, says the ideal carer is some­one who has had dogs most of their life and is used to lots of dif­fer­ent breeds. They should own their own home and have an en­closed, safe gar­den.

“They have to be at home dur­ing the day. So re­tired peo­ple who love their free­dom and go­ing on hol­i­day but en­joy hav­ing a dog around the house, are ideal,” says Sophia. “Some of them are older peo­ple who don’t want to go through the pain of los­ing a dog again but would love to have one in the house. They have to un­der­stand the own­ers and that it is stress­ful for them to leave their dog while they are away.”

Sophia – who also runs Pet Emer­gency Train­ing Nor­folk, cov­er­ing skills like giv­ing CPR to a dog and how to treat bee stings and burns - also in­spects their homes and gets to know the car­ers so that she can en­sure a great match with the dogs.

“It isn’t just about lo­ca­tion,” she ex­plains. “We have some peo­ple who live in the same vil­lage as a carer but are matched with a carer else­where who is more suit­able for their dog’s re­quire­ments.

“The carer en­sures that the dog has its nor­mal routine, their own food and their own bed. They keep to its usual walk­ing routine and when it goes to bed.

“We want the dog owner to know that their dog is hav­ing as good a time as they are on their hol­i­day.”

For in­for­ma­tion about be­com­ing a PetS­tay carer or book­ing in your dog, see pets­ or call Sophia on 07861 957551


For­mer jour­nal­ist Kathryn Cross had long wanted to run her own busi­ness on the fam­ily farm with hus­band David, but it wasn’t un­til she was ap­proached by a dog owner look­ing for exercise space that an idea be­gan to take root. Last year she opened her ca­nine busi­ness hub Cen­tre Paws at Barnards Farm near Wy­mond­ham, cre­at­ing a on­estop des­ti­na­tion for dog lovers.

“We were con­tacted by some­one who wanted some­where safe and en­closed to exercise her dogs, and we re­alised there was some de­mand for this. So we cre­ated a se­cure exercise field; We thought we might get 10 dogs a week – now we have over 100.”

When peo­ple started ask­ing on the Face­book page where they could find a dog-friendly café to visit after­wards, the idea for Cen­tre Paws started to grow.

“The idea to open a café in our old barns be­gan to take shape, then a lo­cal dog groomer who was look­ing for new premises con­tacted us and was keen to join us, and ev­ery­thing started to come to­gether. We felt the barns would ei­ther fall down and be lost for­ever or we could do some­thing pos­i­tive with them.”

The busi­ness has just cel­e­brated its first birthday and the site in­cludes the Black­berry Tea Rooms – named af­ter her five-year-old Labrador, grooming busi­ness Scruffy2Fl­uffy, DB dog train­ing with Jayne Wid­dess, farm walks, and the exercise field. Kathryn also hosts reg­u­lar com­mu­nity events, and has plenty of plans to ex­pand.

“We’ve had re­tail pop-ups be­fore, which we are keen to de­velop, and peo­ple told us they would love to come and stay here, so this sum­mer we are open­ing up Wal­nut Tree Meadow, of­fer­ing a small num­ber of glamp­ing and camp­ing pitches, en­abling peo­ple to bring their dogs on hol­i­day with them.”

Kathryn and David, and their four sons, live on the farm along with their four dogs and it is very much a fam­ily af­fair.

“We are incredibly lucky to live on a farm like this, but it is even nicer to share it and for oth­ers to ap­pre­ci­ate how beau­ti­ful the Nor­folk coun­try­side is.”


Ali­son Pri­estly loved walk­ing her dogs on Nor­folk’s beaches but was frus­trated by the lack of prod­ucts avail­able to help dry them off af­ter a wet walk. So she cre­ated the ul­ti­mate dog dry­ing coat – high-qual­ity and su­per-ab­sorbent – her coats not only help wet dogs dry off in min­utes, they are warm, com­fort­able and look smart.

Per­fect for us­ing af­ter wet walks, bath times and hy­drother­apy, they are made from dou­ble thick­ness cot­ton tow­elling. Ali­son’s Nor­folk-based busi­ness also sells bed cov­ers, sofa throws and aprons. ruf­fand­tum­ble­dog­


Hand­made and baked in a barn at Fl­itcham, near King’s Lynn, Pooch’s dog and cat treats are lo­cally-sourced, eco-friendly, low in fat, with no preser­va­tives, flavour­ings or colour­ings. Meat comes from Nor­folk butch­ers and the San­dring­ham and Holkham es­tates.

‘Our most un­usual case was den­tal work on a tiny puffer fish’

Clas­sic dog dry­ing coats from Ruff and Tum­ble

ABOVE: An Easter egg hunt for dogs at Cen­tre Paws, Barnards Farm Jamie Honey­wood

BE­LOW: Kathryn Cross, sec­ond right, at Cen­tre Paws at Barnards Farm at Wy­mond­ham. With her from left, Col­lie Bass, agility trainer Jayne Wid­dess, Black­berry, and groomer Sam John­son Denise Bradley

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