When people asked me how I got interested in setting up my dog walking business, it takes me a few minutes to tell them my story, which I’m going to do.
I was born and bred from the North side of Dublin in 1967 and then I left Dublin in 1992 to training as a nurse and bereavement counsellor at the Metropolitan University in London. During the 17 years in London, I decided to live in Greece for 1 year and came across a closed prison for stray dogs on an island called Aegina. I found my passion in life and I ended up working at this sanctuary for 6 months taking care of the needs of the dogs. Of course, I had a love affair with the Greeks, but it was my dog Benny which I found underneath an olive tree that eventually came to live with me in London. And that's another story!
When I came back to London I established the Lordship Wreck dog club where I liaised with the UK Dogs trust and other services relating to the welfare of dogs. During the last period of my working life as a nurse and counsellor I also did further training as a Reiki practitioner and how it benefited not only my human clients but also Benny.
In 2009, I felt it was time to come back to my old roots, good ol Dublin. I realised that I wanted to do something different with my life. Why not do what I always wanted to do, it’s not too late and that was to work with dogs. I did some voluntary work in a dog's groomer salon for 3 months and really enjoyed it, but it was the dog walking that I enjoyed the most, especially spending 17 years working in artificial light and intense surroundings.
Well here I am, SPOT THE DOG WALKER, which provides an individual care package for each dog and the client’s needs. What’s different about my service is that the dogs are assessed on their activities of daily living. I provided a mobile service which makes life less stressful for the client. All the walks are structured with basic dog training, play and cardiovascular exercise. My service offers day care in my home, dog sitting and home sitting. I offer a limited home boarding where they spend the whole time with me in my own home. My prices are reasonable with reduce prices for those that are senior citizens and the unemployed. And a quick mention I'm also a canine first responder, so I'm trained to give dogs first aid if necessary. Llisten my story hasn't finished. Im looking at boarding with a difference with low cost rates because we all no Ireland is in a mess. What Im offering is also the boarding,free agility activities, care plans of the activities of daily living of your dog with free behavioural and nutritional advice and follow up care plans!
My name is Benny Coggins and my story begins when I was abandoned on the streets of Aegina in Greece sometime in May 1998. I think I was about 4 months old because I know that I was small and fragile. I don’t know why this happened to me, because I was not much trouble as a puppy.
I was a good puppy. Anyway someone found me and brought me to this big place with other dogs. I was terrified because there were a lot of big dogs who seemed to be always fighting. I didn’t mind living there at first, as I didn’t know any better. As the months and years went by I became very depressed as there was less space in the yard because new dogs would join us. I spent most of my time sitting under an olive tree just looking at my friends fighting. Was this going to be my life forever?
Then one hot day in May 2000 there was this lady looking over at me from the gate. I soon found out that the place I was living in was a closed prison used for humans not so long ago. There was a wildlife sanctuary next door. A lot of people would come to look at us. My friends and I would hope that these people would take us away from this unbearable life. It was very rare that this would happen, but all my friends would get very excited, barking and nearly tear down the gates. What a sight.
I was too depressed to get motivated by this false hope. But this lady looked nice and continued to look at me. Anyway, she wanted to see me, she had a gentle voice but sounded strange. I liked her and she obviously liked me because the next day she collected me from the prison.
My new life began and I experienced the beach and different food – and also had a hair cut, which I did not like at all! I met my auntie Madeline from FAZA, I had heard so much about her through my other friends. She was as I expected her to be, a lovely gentle, animal-loving woman to us unfortunate dogs. I had to get some injections and blood taken because Mammy was taking me back to England and I went and stayed with Bill and Cybil. They looked after me very well but I still missed my human mother, Fiona.
The day came when I was flown from Athens to Paris where I was collected by Mammy and Gaby. I didn’t enjoy the flight but at least I was with my old mate Stella who was going to a new home as well. When we arrived at the Paris Freight Cargo we had to wait in these funny boxes which we did not much like either. When I saw Mammy and she let me out of the travel box I just had to kiss her and hug her so much!
For me, the story now has a happy ending, unlike the rest of my friends who are still living in the shelter. I now reside with Mammy and a pussy cat in a spacious one bedroom flat with a lovely garden.
I love going to the park every day where I enjoy so many different smells – and also chasing after squirrels! My uncle John leaves me messages on the answering machine to see if I’m okay. My grandmother is coming over from Ireland to see me soon and says she is going to take me shopping at Harrods. Mammy takes me to Petworld twice a month for a treat and I get some nice bones from the local butcher once a week. What a life! I am so happy now, it is hard to think of the life I had on Aegina. I think of my friends at the shelter and when I cuddle up at night in my cosy bed, I hope that they too will find good homes as well.