Year 1 – 27, Eager & Clueless!

I’m delving into my memories to tell you all about how a 27 year old me (who thought they knew their shit… ha!) started business while driving a gold Toyota Yaris (bloody love that car!) and basically walked blindfolded through being a business owner!

In my last blog I talked about how I left PDSA to move to Barnard Castle and start up the business. So we’ll begin in March 2010. 

I started on the 8th March which was a Monday and I had one dog to walk, which was my next door neighbours greyhound. He was called Robbie and I walked him twice a day, 5 days a week. So the beginning was pretty chilled! I don’t remember much about the early days, other than trying to adjust to living in a new area and living with a man for the first time! 

Graeme and I are no longer together (that story comes a few years down the line) but I will always be thankful to him for allowing me to follow this path. If it hadn’t been for his encouragment and support, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Luckily he also earned enough for the both of us so I didn’t have the financial pressure that a lot of new businesses have. He was a star. 

Dog walking wasn’t such a huge industry back then and there wasn’t a lot of competition. Business grew pretty fast. I wish I had more photos of the dogs I walked then but I lost some when Graeme and I broke up. 

However one client stands out and I met them in the pub I lived next to (ah happy days of living next to a pub!!) 

It was a May bank holiday, I’d had a few pints and was playing pool with Graeme. He had his collie Belle with him and that’s how we got chatting to this lovely couple. They told me they had 5 dogs, mostly collies whom they had rescued from the farm up the road. They lived on the edge of a dale village in a gorgeous old stone house. I mentioned I was a dog walker and they asked if I did housesitting. Back then I offered almost everything doggy related (DOGGY, not DOGGING! Dirty minds!) so I said yes! For the next 3 years I regularly stayed in their house and walked their 5 dogs on Eggleston Moor. 

 Ben, Kutee, Mist, Tom, Shakira & Tess. Tom was added to the gang a bit later.

I wish I could find my diaries from that year but I think they have been lost on one of the housemoves I’ve had over the years. 

The main thing I remember from 2010 was not the dogs I walked, but the puppy I got! As I was now self employed and able to be home more, I convinced Graeme we needed a puppy! I’d started agility with Brenna in the April of 2010 at Barnard Castle dog training club and met some lovely people, some of which I’m still good friends with. I also met the amazing border collies who whizzed around the courses at break neck speed! It was then I decided I needed a border collie in my life. 

In June 2010, we brought Brae home from Doncaster to join our home. Brae has been and still is the reason I adore border collies. She came into our house as a cheeky puppy who once chewed Graeme’s beloved sofa and pee’d on the carpet more times than I can remember. However she’s also the most laid back, bomb proof dog, who I still use as a stooge dog when bringing in new dogs to walk. She gets on with everyone and every dog (mostly!) and has adjusted to a puppy (Taryn), several house moves and a baby.

My gorgeous baby Brae, July 2010

Most of that first year was good. I can’t think of anything really bad that happened, however I was totally green when it came to marketing and advertising. I was basically robbed by placing ads in Yell (do not pay for Yell ads if you’re new to business!) and I’m pretty sure I got scammed by magazines that didn’t really exist. I also didn’t know dogs quite as well as I thought (but I didn’t know that at the time) and dealt with some clients who I should have stayed clear of, like a bulldog puppy that gave Brae campylobactor and then blamed me for making their dog sick. A friend of that client kindly broke Graeme’s back window on his beloved Honda Civic over that debaucle! 

Crazy days! 

Next time I’ll talk about 2011!!

Thanks for reading folks

Tam x

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