Do you work in West London?
Yes, Miss Richardson’s Dogs works across London, but mainly west and north.
What’s your favourite thing about the area?
The green spaces and the neighbourhood feel. I love being outside; I’m quite outdoorsy (which definitely helps with my job) but I also love the experience of living in a city with all its arts and culture. I want to feel like I’m living in the countryside, but that I’m also never too far away from a really good chai latte.
Describe your perfect day and evening in west London..
I’m obsessed with canal boats, so a mooch around Little Venice, lunch by the canal and some foraging in Portobello Market would be a pretty dreamy day. If I were with a pup, Richmond park is gorgeous, and there are so many dog friendly pubs nearby for a hearty roast dinner after a long walk.
Where are the most dog friendly places in west London?
There are so many now! If you’d asked ten years ago, it’d be a different story but now most good places will welcome your furry friends too. That being said, Bluebird is especially amazing, and as well as great human kibble they’re always so happy to bring water and treats. Minnow is also great, and as it’s so close to Clapham Common, you can walk off the treats after, or relax there after a long walk. M in Victoria street is the place for true puppy luxury though; they’ve got an actual menu for dogs which is totally amazing; their doggy brunch is next level.
You’re the founder of Miss Richardson’s Dogs, a boutique dog daycare company that works in West and North London. What inspired you to start the business?
I’d worked in the dog care industry for a few years and realised that there were a lot of things I’d do differently if I was in charge. I saw a lot of prioritising profit over welfare (of both dogs and employees) and that wasn’t something I wanted to be complicit in. So, I quit my job and went out on my own, and the idea for Miss Richardson’s Dogs was born organically out of that. Building the business from scratch gave me the freedom to put the dogs at the front and centre of every decision, to hand pick dog walkers who aren’t just in it for the money and to add all the extra details to the service that makes it feel a bit more like you’re part of a club…
What are those extra details?
We’re boutique, which means that we have the freedom to give a much more bespoke service than other companies. We have a maximum amount of dogs for each walker, which means we’re always able to give individual attention, and we don’t take dogs that we don’t think will fit into our existing groups. When you join Miss Richardson’s Dogs we commission a really cute artist’s drawing of your pup, and personalised merchandise is available to order from that point on. We want to know all the small things that make you and your dog happy – how they like their ears scratched, which games they like playing best and we’ll also send as many photos and updates as you like. We’re not a one size fits all service, we work to the needs of your dog and want you to feel like we’re an extension of you and your dog’s family.
What do you love most about your job?
Oh my god, seeing their little faces every day, and how excited they are when I arrive. No matter what my week has been like, when I get to hang out with the dogs, I’m just so happy. I’ve always loved animals and working with dogs is truly a pleasure, it’s so much fun I still can’t believe that I get paid to do it. It’s a huge joy to be surrounded by dogs on a daily basis and you form such wonderful rewarding relationships with them and their owners that I feel lucky doing my job every day.
Tell us what makes Miss Richardson’s dogs different from other companies?
Having worked for other companies I’m really passionate about avoiding the pitfalls I’ve seen in other services; such as over subscribing walks, employing people who don’t care and ignoring the individual needs of dogs. We only run small walks, employ people who are as crazy about the dogs as I am and focus on each dog’s needs as individuals. We actually have a staff Whatsapp where we exchange cute pictures of our dogs, because we all love them so much (and also because my boyfriend gets bored of me sending all the pictures to him). As I’ve worked in the dog training industry as well as the dog care industry I also feel able to give a much more detailed assessment of a dog’s needs. With my background I can work on basic behavioural improvements and personally recommend more in depth help if needed. All our services are much more catered to your lifestyle than other companies; we offer daycare, can arrange for one of us to stay at your home when you’re away on business, act as a babysitter while you’re out for the evening or even check in for a cuddle and play session while you’re busy. We just care more.
Do you own a dog yourself?
I feel like I own hundreds, and if you looked at my phone photos you’d think I did, but no, I actually own a very spoilt rescue cat called Cheeky. She has a lot of doglike qualities though: at home she’s my shadow and she’s a cuddle and licks machine.
Dog sales have sky rocketed since lockdown, why do you think that is?
It’s a brilliant time to settle a dog into your family and people being able to work from home has made the initial process of house training and puppy care much more viable. Also, dogs are such excellent company that having a buddy to help you through this tricky time has been a lifeline for many people.
So, would you say that dogs are good for your mental health?
I genuinely think that animals should be prescribed on the NHS, they are that good for your mental health. Dogs love unconditionally and without judgement and make you laugh on an hourly basis. They motivate you to get up and out into nature and their unbridled enthusiasm for life is unmatchable. I know they make my life much richer. I have so many stories about dogs helping people to deal with difficult times in their lives and I feel passionately that if you can own an animal, you should.
What advice would you have for someone who wants to own a dog in the city, but perhaps is worried about finding the time to look after it?
For someone who isn’t able to have pets in their home, you can always volunteer at a local dog sanctuary; there are plenty of dogs without homes that need a bit of loving, that’s actually how a lot of my dog walkers started out in the industry.
There are also a lot of people who rule out the idea of having a dog because they have full time jobs, but dog care and walking services like mine mean that you can have a busy life and still know that your dog is loved and looked after when you’re not there. That’s sort of why I set up the business – I want clients to know that when they can’t be there, their dogs are with someone who genuinely really cares.
Find out more at www.missrichardsonsdogs.com
Meet some of their clients via www.instagram.com/missrichardsonsdogs