Kent dogs providing support during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 14:01 08 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:01 08 June 2020

Pets are making lockdown bearable (photo: Fly_dragonfly, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Pets are making lockdown bearable (photo: Fly_dragonfly, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Pets are proving a lifesaver for many, providing companionship and consistency in uncertain times, as these Kent Life readers reveal

• Katie & Ralph

Tell us a bit about you

I am the director of Libra Partnership Ltd, a company providing advocacy services for local authorities. We work with people who lack the capacity to make decisions and who are in care homes and hospitals across England and Wales, making sure that their voices are heard and their rights upheld.

I usually spend at least one week a month travelling the country to see clients in care homes, so the lockdown has had a big effect on how we manage this.

We have had to adapt to using technology; with the help of home managers and care staff, we can see clients using Zoom, Face Time or WhatsApp video.

We use encrypted email to transfer documents and the team can work remotely using the Cloud. However, I can’t wait to be back on the road again, because there is nothing nicer than meeting someone face to face.

And your dog

Ralph is a two-year-old standard wire-haired daschund, he’s incredibly lazy and happy to sleep all day, he isn’t what you would call a high-energy dog! He does enjoy his walks, however, particularly if they include treats for recall.

We used to go for walks twice a day, morning and evening, but since the lockdown we try to go for a longer walk mid-morning so we only go out once. If he is feeling particularly energetic, we will play games in the garden in the evening, one of his favourites being hide and seek with treats.

Katie and Ralph have a wonderful choice of walks from their home in Maidstone
Katie and Ralph have a wonderful choice of walks from their home in Maidstone

What’s your favourite walk?

We are really lucky living in Maidstone. From our house we can access the Medway Valley Walk and walk either to Allington or Teston, and there is also a circular walk through the nearby orchards which is lovely. Mote Park and Oaken Wood are also favorites.

Ralph is very sociable and loves other dogs. I belong to a WhatsApp dog walking group and prior to the lockdown we would arrange to meet up on a regular basis, our largest group walk was eight owners and 12 dogs. We’re all still in touch and help each other with shopping if we can, but dog walks are definitely on hold for now.

Ralph is used to having both my husband and I at home, but he is definitely enjoying the extra attention that having us both home at the same time brings.

Benefits of having a dog in lockdown?

Having a dog gives me structure and purpose, particularly at the moment when days all blend into one another. Going for a walk allows me to get away from the work environment and unwind.

I’m not sure I would go out every day if I didn’t have Ralph.

Katie and Ralph have a wonderful choice of walks from their home in Maidstone
Katie and Ralph have a wonderful choice of walks from their home in Maidstone

Katie and Ralph have a wonderful choice of walks from their home in Maidstone
Katie and Ralph have a wonderful choice of walks from their home in Maidstone

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• Dee & Joey

Tell us a bit about you

I live in Maidstone and I used to work as a barista in BB’s Muffins, but I quit my job just before the lockdown for health issues. I like staying at home, I keep myself busy with taking photos, reading, walking my dog and writing.

And your dog

Joey is a nine-month-old white Golden Retriever and the cutest dog ever. He loves to be around us and loves cuddles.

Your favourite walk?

Our walking routine hasn’t changed much since lockdown as Joey and I love walking along the River Medway. We start our stroll in the Fant Wildlife area, where Joey has lots of freedom and loves chasing me with the stick. It’s just beautiful there.

Maidstone resident Dee's Golden Retriever JoeyMaidstone resident Dee's Golden Retriever Joey

Benefits of having a dog in lockdown?

There is always someone beside you who loves you no matter what and who forces you to leave the house even if you are not really up for it.

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• Maureen & Evie

Tell us a bit about you

I’m Tonbridge born and bred and, being over 70, I’m not going out to work, although many years ago I was not a full-time worker, more of a stay at home mum.

What does lockdown mean to you?

I am spending more time reading and doing puzzles, but I do look at jobs that need doing indoors and out and think ‘I have plenty of time for that.’ When this crazy world returns to some kind of new normal, I imagine I’ll wish I’d made better use of my time!’

Evie is a faithful companion to Tonbridge resident Maureen HineEvie is a faithful companion to Tonbridge resident Maureen Hine

I am usually out meeting friends in the town, seeing family and walking my dog twice a day. Since the lockdown, we just walk once a day, very early in the morning to avoid bumping into other people, although I try to be aware of social-distancing when we do. No family has been able to visit apart from a food shop drop off.

And your dog

Evie is a very devoted and loving companion. It took my family a long time to persuade me that I needed a dog, then Evie sort of ended up with me when she was five months old. I wouldn’t want to be without her now.

Evie is a cross breed (what would have been termed a mongrel years ago) a crossed Staffie and Dog de Bordeaux or French Mastiff. She’s now six and has a lovely gentle nature, although she’s a bit lazy at times – she does enjoy a nap!

Evie has always loved having visitors to the house. Last year she underwent two operations that kept her confined to no walking, jumping or using stairs and, being a large dog, this has enabled her to adapt well to the slower pace needed during lockdown’.

Your favourite walk?

I don’t have a favourite walk at the moment; not having a car, the woods nearby are my everyday walk. We go out early each morning, usually walking for just under an hour, early enough to hear the birds’ early chorus and hopefully to see the sun rise, another thing I really appreciate. I can’t vary my route a great deal but Evie’s perfectly happy covering the same ground each day.

Benefits of having a dog in lockdown?

Having a dog to walk is a huge benefit to me, especially at the moment. I know I wouldn’t do the walking or have the opportunity to appreciate what I get to see if I didn’t have her as a companion. Long may we continue to be best buddies!

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• Mike, Oscar & Honey

Tell us a bit about you

I live in Faversham and run a pub by the creek with my Grandad called The Shipwright’s Arms. Since lockdown, I have been spending more time with my dogs, but also fixing up the pub and the pub garden ready for when lockdown is over.

And your dogs

Faversham publican Mike's white Saluki cross Honey enjoys some sea air. Mike also has Oscar, a black Boxer Labrador crossFaversham publican Mike's white Saluki cross Honey enjoys some sea air. Mike also has Oscar, a black Boxer Labrador cross

Oscar is a black Boxer Labrador cross rescue and he’s nine years old. He’s dappy and dippy at times, and such a scatterbrain, but he is my best friend. He loves playing with balls – or anything that looks like a ball; especially rolled-up socks and plant pots.

Honey is a five-year-old white Saluki cross and also a rescue dog. She is definitely Little Miss Independent, but also extremely loving and loyal. She enjoys nothing more than a good sprint across the marshes.

Your favourite walk?

As I live next to the creek, I am one of the lucky few whose walking routes haven’t changed. Myself, Oscar and Honey are lucky to have the creek as our daily walk which we absolutely love, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Benefits of having a dog in lockdown?

Dogs are amazing for the soul, no matter the situation. There is that bond of unconditional love that can’t be broken. They become your best friends and we become theirs. Dogs will do anything for you, and vice versa. They become a very special companion; a reason to get up, a reason to visit the beautiful countryside right on the doorstep.

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• Kellyanne, Phoebe & Prudence

Kellyanne's Jackawawas Prudence and Phoebe are exploring Tenterden togetherKellyanne's Jackawawas Prudence and Phoebe are exploring Tenterden together

Tell us a bit about you

My full-time job is as an administrator (I’m currently working from home) but I also enjoy photography.

And your dogs

Phoebe and Prudence are both Jackawawas and they are mother and daughter. Phoebe turned eight in March and Prue will be six in August. Phoebe is the quiet and relaxed one, she loves to sunbathe, eat biscuits and treats and sleep. Prue is more aggravating, she likes to sit on Phoebe when she’s sleeping, likes to annoy the cat and doesn’t understand the word ‘stay.’

Your favourite walk?

They both love a walk, although Phoebe occasionally has issues about certain routes so we have to change it and go somewhere else. We are currently exploring Tenterden more as I can’t drive to new walking destinations. You can read our blog at: phoebeandprudence.co.uk.

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Dog groomer Samantha enjoys walking Oscar, her English Springer Spaniel around the rural Monkton areaDog groomer Samantha enjoys walking Oscar, her English Springer Spaniel around the rural Monkton area

• Samantha & Oscar

Tell us a bit about you

I live in Monkton, near Ramsgate and am the owner of Benji’s Groom Room. For a time I had to close my dog grooming business in line with government guidelines, but I continued to offer support throughout these difficult times via social media videos, text, Instagram and FaceTime calls.

And your dog

Oscar is a ball-loving, tail-wagging energetic rescue dog, an English Springer Spaniel aged seven who loves the outdoors and whose passions include balls and frisbees (basically, anything throwable). He demands your total attention and will remind you with a bark and a gentle nudge if you fail to respond. He’s an amazing Elvis impersonator, is super-intelligent and boy, do I love him!

Your favourite walk?

We are so lucky to live overlooking the beautiful fields (golden at the moment) in Monkton. These are our daily walks, among nature and wildlife. We have lots of rural walks around here and feel blessed to have this on our doorstep.

Oscar loves having me all to himself, my undivided attention, not just for the ball throwing addiction,I hope, but because he loves his mum and just being with me, no matter what.

Benefits of having a dog in lockdown?

Oscar has been a lifesaver for me since I rescued him when he was two, but even more so in recent times with the virus and restrictions in place. Living alone has its challenges and Oscar provides companionship and consistency.

Some of the many benefits of pet ownership for health and wellbeing are that it reduces loneliness and anixety, lifts your mood and makes you want to go out for that walk (not that I need any encouragement). We look forward to our walks together as he really is my best friend.

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• Valerie & Dandy

Tell us a bit about you

I live in Ramsgate and am a ‘retired’ photojournalist. I used to work in London for Trinity Mirror, then in Kent doing PR work, private work, weddings and so forth. I am usually a host mother to foreign students, I volunteer and have 10 grandchildren, usually helping take care for the two younger ones. Sadly all my work has now dried up, as has any income!

Ramsgate resident Valerie and her Golden Retriever Dandy are missing seeing her 10 grandchildrenRamsgate resident Valerie and her Golden Retriever Dandy are missing seeing her 10 grandchildren

And your dog

Dandy is a Golden Retriever, he’s six years old and such a lovely boy. He loves the children, swimming in the sea and watching dogs on TV! We are very fortunate to have Dandy with us as he was recently very ill and nearly died, so it is even more poignant now that we’re together.

Your favourite walk?

We vary our walks every day, trying to avoid other people! Our favourite trot is around Ramsgate Harbour, on the main sands and then back around the Harbour, aiming for 10,000m steps per outing. We play tug, and hide and seek at home too; I hide small treats all over the house (I only have a patio garden), which is great fun for Dandy.

Benefits of having a dog in lockdown?

Tremendous! If one is self-isolating, a dog is great company, helps you keep a routine (my own went out of the window) and makes you plan when to go out and share your day. We Zoom and FaceTime family, where he really enjoys, bringing all his toys to the screen. He misses the children very much too. I cannot stress the importance of a dog-person relationship, during this lockdown and I am truly grateful to be sharing it with Dandy.

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