Embracing a passion for pooches during lockdown | Vicky Meets

Vicky meets... Nicky Porter, from PAWter Daycare in Oving.

• How did you come to open a doggy day care business?

I have always loved dogs and was brought up with dogs. I had to close my tearoom business during lockdown and, because this was something I had always wanted to do, I used the time to study dog care and dog behaviour. I got my diplomas and started operating from home, but then decided to do it on a bigger scale. I found perfect premises, got licensed with a five-star rating from Chichester District Council and went for it.

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• Are you a dog owner as well as a dog lover?

Nicky Porter, from PAWter Daycare in Oving

Yes. Sadly, we lost Kenzo, my 12-year-old black Labrador, during lockdown. I also have a cocker spaniel and a dachshund.

• Is there an increased demand for doggy day care?

Yes. Dogs need to interact with other dogs but because of the lockdowns they haven’t necessarily been able to do this. Dogs are also struggling with separation anxiety as owners return to work. Day care is a great way to ease dogs back into socialisation and into a new routine of their owners being back at work.

• What can people expect when they leave their dog with you?

I only have six to eight dogs at a time and it’s cosy and homely. The dogs have a sofa and beds to snooze on, lots of play equipment, an outside area and they get all of my attention. Because we’re located at the back of the Tangmere airfield there are lots of lovely quiet walks that I can take them on, too.

• What advice would you give a prospective dog owner?

Dog ownership is a big commitment. Many people took on dogs during lockdown, but I worry that some underestimated how big that commitment actually is. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, be sensible: I would never leave a dog for longer than three or four hours and they need regular walks, so do you have the time? Also, my dogs cost me about £300 a month for food and insurance and pet plans, so can you afford it? If you decide to go ahead, always go to a reputable breeder and see the puppy with its mum and dad. Otherwise go to a rescue centre. Buying dogs from anywhere that you suspect might not be quite right makes you part of the puppy farming problem, and you could easily end up with a dog that has all sorts of expensive (and potentially heart-breaking) problems.

• Can people look around before they book their pooch in with you?

Yes, absolutely! Just give me a ring and arrange a time and I’ll be pleased to meet you and your dog. I’ve got 12 years’ experience with dogs and this is my passion. It’s also a family affair because my dad loves dogs and will help out. Very, very sadly, Mum died just before I opened. Her picture is on the wall here and she watches over me and the dogs.

For more information visit www.pawterdaycare.com or call 07548 272346.