Taking the Lead

By Palmer, Mark | The Evening Standard (London, England), June 20, 2003 | Go to article overview

Taking the Lead


Palmer, Mark, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: MARK PALMER

Taking London pooches need never miss out on walkies again, says Mark Palmer, as he meets the city's leading dog walkers

Angela Norton, 38

'The satisfaction I receive knowing that my clients - the two-legged ones and the fourlegged ones - trust me is immense,' says Angela Norton, who has been an official dog walker for 14 months. Angela is a member of the National Association of Pet Sitters and trained with the World Society for the Protection of Animals. She is keen for the Animal Welfare Bill to be voted through Parliament because it will lead to the introduction of licences for dog walkers. 'The idea is to keep out the bad ones and keep in the good ones,' says Angela, who is single and lives in Nunhead, South London. It was after moving from her native Liverpool with Merlin, a Westie, that Angela decided to set up Complete Pet Care.

She charges [pounds sterling]8 an hour per dog - with the clock ticking only once she is in the park. On numerous occasions she has found herself jumping into ponds to retrieve balls because she thinks the water is too dirty for her canine clients. The dogs live mainly in Chelsea, Pimlico and Battersea. 'They love me because I love them,' she says.

Louise Wilsher, 38A bad experience four years ago when she left her cat at a cattery inspired Louise Wilsher to set up Cats, Dogs & Peace of Mind. 'I wasn't happy with the way they treated Cheeky and thought that animals deserved a better service,' says Louise, who is married and lives with husband, dog and cat in, appropriately, the Isle of Dogs. Louise grew up near Southend in Essex, where she owned her first cat - a male tabby called Zebedee - when she was four. After school, she went into catering and ended up running her own restaurant in Swiss Cottage and then owning a BSM driving instruction franchise before setting up her dog business in Docklands. 'I work full time with four helpers during most of the year, and more at holiday times. All our carers are vetted and covered by comprehensive liability insurance.' Recently she was walking Princess, a collie, who had an epileptic fit and began rolling down a hill towards a ravine. Louise managed to save her from the abyss with a superb rugby tackle.

Nicky Scott, 38 Nicky Scott is a disciple of Colette Kase, the 'dog behaviourist' who is a regular on the Richard and Judy Show, and runs a puppy school called Pet Sense in Marylebone.

In five years' time, Nicky hopes to have set up her own school and, if she has any regrets, it's that she didn't start working with dogs at the age of 18. Not that she has lived a dull life. After growing up in Sussex and being sent to boarding school in Shropshire, Nicky worked as a tennis instructor in America and, later, as a chef in London. She is single, lives in Fulham and charges from [pounds sterling]5 to [pounds sterling]10 an hour for oneonone dog walks in Battersea Park, Hyde Park or Regent's Park. 'It all started when I was asked by a friend to look after a Patterdale terrier called Cosmo. The dog was already having problems and I took it to see Colette - and got hooked,' says Nicky. She is not put off by the fact that looking after even the most well-behaved dogs can be a messy business. Nicky admits the trial of cleaning up after her dogs is often compounded by some of her charges cocking a leg over her backpack, which she has put on the ground while 'scooping'. …

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