VICTOR TEIXEIRA – LMDI
These are unprecedented times. Just when we think that we’re having a collectively bad year, something comes along that makes us re-evaluate what a bad year really feels like.
Millions of dogs up and down the country will have their routines affected in the next few months and many of us are already having to deal with this new reality. Owners having to limit their time outdoors, doggy shops having to close indefinitely, groomers being forced to plan for alternatives… but our dogs still have needs. So we must adapt!
It’s not all negative though. We are learning how to entertain ourselves, each other and our pets indoors. We’re also starting to distinguish what’s nice from what’s essential. All this whilst trying to keep our dogs’ lives as normal as possible.
Borough SE1 London
Corona Diary of a Dog Walker:
Where do I begin? When Vic asked me to write a little something for his blog on what it’s been like being a self-employed Dog Walker, my head was still spinning and I certainly wasn’t ready to write anything down! Yesterday, Tuesday 24th of March, was the first day I found myself a little time to breathe, but let’s jump backwards a fortnight to around March 11/12th. Italy was under attack and I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t take things seriously. I still believed it was just a glorified flu, I wasn’t in the “at risk” category so it wasn’t going to bother me. I was too busy to even think much about it.
By that weekend, however, it was crawling across mainland Europe like an invisible monster. Videos started to come out from Italy showing us the truth that this was a whole lot worse than some flu, this was a pneumonia that was attacking our most vital organs and our ability to breathe. By Sunday the 15th we knew it was just a matter of time before we were overrun and our government was delaying every possible measure. So that Monday I got to work, I did my usual walks and in the afternoons I worked on putting together treat bags and a care plan for my friends in isolation and elderly clients.
Wednesday the 18th was my last full day of dogs. It ripped my heart out saying goodbye to dogs I’ve worked with 5 days a week for 7+ years not knowing when I might see them again.
Thursday the 19th, the day that 40 tube stations closed, my daycare dogs turned up as normal but instead of walking my big lunchtime pack I had to take to the shops. Of course everywhere had been picked clean so I just got what I could and headed home. My husband came home early that day expecting an imminent lockdown. Unfortunately our procrastinating PM refused to tell businesses to stop bringing inessential staff to work and my husband’s boss forced him to travel across London in a tube-shaped petri dish the next day.
I had two dogs that day, Friday the 20th, so it gave me time to fight for my husband. I tweeted Sadiq Khan and spoke to my MP. How crazy to still force non-essential workers to put their health at risk. When he got home that night he jumped straight in the bath, washed his clothes and had a little cry – it broke my heart to pieces.
Saturday 21st we deep-cleaned the house and worked out how to ration our food. Surely over the weekend we would go into lockdown and we could spend the next week making sure our isolated friends and neighbours had everything they needed. Saturday afternoon it all hit me. I fell into a crazy deep sleep and didn’t wake until 5am on Sunday morning; my brain was trying to fix itself. Again, by Sunday night, nothing. The worry crept across my husband’s face as he realised he would again have to cross the epicentre twice the next day in a cluttered tube at rush hour.
My daycare boy came back on Monday the 23rd, his owner was working from home but in conference calls all day so I would be better company. After his morning walk I got back on the phone to my MP; he and the Mayor planned to tackle the PM that day and try to force him to shut down all unnecessary work. I spoke with reporters and was so grateful to have the daycare boy with me for a bit of normality and comfort. After lunch I picked up an isolation client’s dog and the three of us had a lovely, socially-distanced walk, as essential for me as it was for them. At 8.30pm the PM made his big lockdown speech but again he didn’t do anything to help my husband, he’s still being dragged to work and I had to do serious research to finally find out that I CAN leave the house more than the allocated “once for exercise” and “once to the shop” IF it’s to help someone in isolation. I take that to mean it’s ok for me to go and walk the dog of my friend in isolation.
Today, Wednesday 25th of March, my daycare boy didn’t come. My husband’s taken himself to work and I’m sat writing this. We’ve got the ExCel centre being turned into a huge hospital. Yesterday I found out a friend’s Mother died of the virus. I’m going to take more doggy care packs around to isolated people and walk my friend’s dog. Helping people is all I can do now and until my husband is told by his boss to go home with his sick pay I can’t breathe easy. Many have said he should just quit but his is our only income now and his daughter is in college (we also pay her rent). It’s not as easy as just walking away from work. Our government keeps saying we’re all in this together but it doesn’t really feel like the PM gives a damn about us self-employed or people painting inessential properties like my husband is.
Signed: a worried, scared and lonely Dog Walker in central London.
PS – Update: Omar’s boss has finally informed him that he no longer has to go to work! He won’t get full pay but he’ll still have a job.
Hair of the doggy – Elephant & Castle SE17 London
Here at Hair of the doggy, we had quite a busy diary for grooms, teeth cleans and spas and kept a very close eye on the government’s advice as the crisis developed.
We put in measures for social distancing a few weeks ago where we didn’t allow owners into the premises and we kept a safe distance when handing over the dog to us and handing the dog back afterwards. We stepped up disinfectant measures and ensured doorbell and doors were sanitised between appointments.
With the government’s announcement on 23rd March that non-essential shops and services needed to close, we have temporarily closed our doors to our furry friends. We will update our website www.hairofthedoggy.co.uk and our Facebook page when we know that we are allowed to open again.
In the mean time we would ask you to keep washing, brushing and combing your dogs’ coat to keep their skin and coat healthy (it’s also good for bonding with your pooch) and we look forward to welcoming you back very soon. Stay safe!
PS – Update: We have just closed down until further notice due to the current situation. We will update you as soon as possible as to when we will reopen.
The Hound Hut – Oval SW9 London
Given the ever-changing situation with the Coronavirus outbreak, we wanted to reassure our customers of the measures we are taking to ensure we can still provide you all with the services you have come to expect from The Hound Hut.
We have replenished our stock levels again. Our frozen foods, dry, cans and treats are plentiful for both cats and dogs. We shall be offering a FREE delivery service to our local customers if they are unable to make it into store. Just drop us an email or call us (details below) to place and pay for your order.
Our shop is fully cleaned twice a day to avoid the spread of the virus. Should we find the government decide to quarantine London, it is our intention to still operate by providing you with a delivery service for any food and treats your pets might need during this time.
Should you have a grooming, teeth cleaning and/or daycare appointment, again we will collect and drop off your dogs to your home giving you further peace of mind and to avoid further spread of the virus.
We thank you for your continued support which is much needed at these times for small local independent businesses like ours. It’s very scary for us being such a new business and so frustrating as we were just picking up momentum. But we shall do our absolute best to keep serving our local community.
Fingers crossed we get through this!
PS – Update: we have now closed our shop but continue to run a home service both for purchases and grooming services.
Anthony and Rob
20, Clapham Rd – Oval SW9 0JG
Ph: 0800 193 3364
Mb: 07717 097 019
Southwark SE11 London
With my family far away – my mum who is 86 and lives in Kent and my brother who lives in the Netherlands – I find myself on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I like my own company. My dogs (Bailey 9 and Baba 7) keep me sane and alive. On days when I have no interaction with other humans they enable me to hear my own voice. They give me a reason to get up every day and go out for exercise. Also, they make me smile and laugh out loud with their antics. For me, life without dogs is no life.
The last 2 weeks have been strange, to say the least. I noticed this week that the stock of dog food is becoming limited. This I don’t understand but I’m not panicking yet. My only real worry is for the dogs if I get sick. We go out 2-3 times daily but not very far. They have extendable leads so they can still say hello to their friends and I can stay a safe distance from their humans. Being in the ‘at risk’ group I do have to worry about social interaction and keep it to a minimum. I’m glad they have each other for company. I can’t imagine having an ‘only’ dog.
They can still watch the world go by and are always at the window.
When they are not sleeping…
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