Devastated West Sussex canine hydrotherapist has to halt opening of her new dog training centre

A dog lover who followed her dream of opening a canine sports and rehabilitation clinic in the heart of West Sussex has been left devastated by having to temporarily close her new activity centre on the cusp of it being opened.

Registered canine hydrotherapist Jessica Chase opened Hound House Hydro in Ashurst last summer and took the first dogs for hydrotherapy on July 30.

She then set about planning Houndie House, a secure three-acre field and a safe off-lead indoor barn, to complete the centre.

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The official opening at The Old Dairy, New Wharf Farm, Horsebridge Common, was planned for Saturday, March 21, but due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, this had to be postponed.

Jessica Chase, practice director at Hound House Hydro, swimming with Buffy

Jessica said: “I am literally devastated. I have self-funded my business and have no idea if I will get the support I need.

“I am sure many other people are out there who have paid into the system all their lives and will also fall through the gaps.

“The plan moving forward is to do the open day again, when it is safe to do so. At the forefront of my mind is being moral and ethical in all that I do.”

Jessica developed her business after adopting two dogs from Brighton Retired Greyhound Trust, almost three years ago.

She said: “I am incredibly passionate about the health and wellbeing of all dogs, with a keen interest in canine athletes.

“I was going to buy another business but it all fell through, so this has been in the making for some time. I have been living off my savings.

“It was probably a blessing in disguise because I was able to create a centre that I wanted but it took a considerable amount of time to find the right premises.

“I was very clear about the environment I wanted to do it in. I found a farm that was giving up dairy farming and it was perfect. It took 10 months to get to the finish.”

For hydrotherapy, Jessica takes dogs only with vet referrals and says she has built up really good relationships in the area.

Houndie House will be available for hire for training reactive dogs and activities such as canine sports and agility.

Jessica said: “I am a huge advocate in prevention rather than cure and to this end, I’m engaging with owners to include multi-modal fitness and conditioning as part of training regimes.

“This is a desperately-needed resource in the area. My centre will provide a much-needed facility for all dog owners locally, from general domestic pet to the canine athlete elite.”

Until the open day can be organised again, Jessica plans to keep everyone engaged.

She said: “I will be doing videos from home, showing the training of the greyhounds. It will be hilarious because neither of them does anything they are told. I want to provide something free and positive that people can engage in while we are going through this.”