I sat crying, hot wet tears rolling down my cheeks.
The feelings of hopelessness combined with anxiety left me in a state of despair.
I picked up my phone and frantically typed a message to my best friend in the UK.
“Babe, I don’t know what to do. I’ve got to leave Oman and I don’t know how I’m going to get my dog back as we’re not allowed to fly direct into the UK. I can fly to Europe, so we can get into France and then catch trains to Calais, but I have no idea how to get from Calais across the Channel without a car! I’ve looked into hiring one but you can’t collect it from one country and drop it to another, and the Eurostar doesn’t let you take dogs. I’ve even looked at ferries as an option, even though I hate them as I get sea sick, because I’ll do anything to get him home. But even ferries don’t accept dogs if you’re a foot passenger. I’m out of ideas and I’m going out of my mind – I refuse to leave him behind!!! 😭”
Her response changed my world:
“Babe, omg. I’ll come and get you silly.”
I was crying more heavily now, but they were tears of utter relief. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, but I knew it was true. This selflessness and caring nature is just one of the many amazing qualities my friend has.
That September, my dog and I set off on our epic adventure.
I’ve had dogs in my life since I was a child but before moving to Oman, I hadn’t really considered having another, as I already had two senior cats.
Unfortunately, my eldest cat passed away shortly before I got married and I was completely and utterly devastated when he died. But I still had my other cat, so taking on another pet hadn’t even crossed my mind, especially as I was moving to the Middle East.
Moving to Oman had only been a short-term option as my husband was working out there on a contract when he asked me if I wanted to join him. My mum had already said she’d look after my cat for me so I could experience this ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’. If I’d been moving abroad permanently then I’d have taken her with me, but having consulted the vet, I was advised not to uproot her and put her through the stress of flying when it was only for a few months, so I decided to take my mum up on her offer.
If I could rescue every animal I come across, I would. So, it was no surprise really when I said yes to giving my Pom a home in Oman. I had to be rational about it though. I was living in a different country and knew I wouldn’t be there permanently, so before making the commitment, I consulted the local vet to find out the costs and options in getting my little dog back to the UK when it was time to leave. Thankfully it was doable and because he was so small, he was able to fly home in the cabin with me. You can read about our trip and the preparation that went into it in my story.
So how did this experience take me on the journey that led to creating Small Paws Outdoors?
Well, after overcoming a number of obstacles and my Pom later being diagnosed with a respiratory illness, I decided I needed to be at home more so I could be around for him. Besides, I love nothing more than being in the company of animals.
I realised I wanted to combine my passion for animals with my everyday life and have the flexibility to be at home more so I could also care for my pets. I can still picture myself stood outside the front of our home when I had my lightbulb moment. Turning to my husband, I said: “I could do dog walking for a living!”.
I’ve been excited about it ever since. I started the ball rolling and did mountains of research, found out what insurance I needed, got DBS checked and first aid certified. I also sought advice from other pet businesses, spoke to small dog owners and discovered a variety of ways to bring fun to every dog walking adventure.
I decided to specialise in walking small and toy breeds after experiencing so many things with my Pomeranian – good and bad. Not only did we travel 5,000 miles together, but I’ve also faced what so many people fear, including dog theft and illness.
I’ve learnt how to use a nebuliser on him, an inhaler twice a day, how to administer his drugs, what food to use, how to manage his behaviour when he’s feeling poorly.
Yet I’ve also experienced cuddles, his companionship when my husband’s away with work, teaching him skills such as sit, wait, recall, how to say please and how to give me a high five twice in a row.
Our little dogs bring us so much joy and they really do make our lives complete.
I decided on the name ‘Small Paws Outdoors’ after putting it to the vote in a number of small dog owner groups. I think it describes my dog walking adventures perfectly – the ‘Small Paws’ part is for small and toy breed dogs and ‘Outdoors’ is to signify our outdoor adventures in the countryside. Everyone else seemed to agree as it won by a ‘country mile’ (pun intended).
There are four types of dog walking adventure available at Small Paws Outdoors, each catered to your dog’s individual needs and abilities. Knowing my own dog’s limits and what he’s able to manage is critical to giving him the right amount of exercise – and it’s the same for your little dog too. So, whether your pooch is full of energy and enjoys running up and down hills or can only manage shorter walks on a level surface, there’s an adventure to be had – and your little dog doesn’t need to miss out.