Dog walking completes the day
Team VIPPIES dog walker Caroline Pearce lives in idyllic surroundings just outside Lincoln surrounded by woodland with her cats and hens – oh, and her husband! The current feline friends are Bodmin and Nutmeg who joined the family at the end of January 2019 from Cats Protection . They filled a gap left by Little Star (a proper witch’s cat!) who, after six years with Caroline, died unexpectedly and left a big hole. Rescue cats are always an unknown quantity, Bodmin has proved to be a home lover, as Caroline explains, “He’s a hunka-hunka-buzzing-love, a big squishy black tom cat who purrs as soon as you touch him,” whereas his little tabby ‘sister’ Nutmeg was almost feral when she arrived, constantly looking to him for protection, “but she has gradually come out of her shell and has finally discovered the joy of a human lap.” Meanwhile, the three hens enjoy the run of the garden and orchard at the home of ‘Caroline Chicken Lady’ (a previous Facebook name) and her husband, by way of thanks the hens provide a few delicious eggs. Caroline and her husband have rescued and rehomed many ‘ex-batts’ over the years, although the current hens are traditional breeds (ex-batts only live for a couple of years) they can claim some expertise in happy homes for hens.
After 30 years chained to a desk and computer in the Civil Service and Higher Education Caroline broke free after a session of life coaching gave her the nudge to change direction. She now has a much fitter and happier time working with VIPPIES and running her own business CJPNaturally promoting Forever Living Products that use Aloe Vera. Caroline was already a fan of Aloe Vera as she was a regular user of the products: “Drinking Aloe Vera is great for us all, known for centuries to have soothing and healing properties, it contains a cocktail of nutrients that work synergistically together so that it’s wonderful for anyone who wants great skin, good digestive health, a well-supported immune system, just overall wellbeing really. I particularly love that it works on animals too as there can’t be any placebo effect with them! We have a product called Forever Freedom which is particularly popular with horses and creaky old dogs, as it contains added Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM, supporting great joint health with none of the side effects of conventional medicine.”
Caroline also loves the time being her own boss has given her to spend more time with loved ones and helping out with different charities. VIPPIES is an added bonus, providing a steady part time job in the week that gets her out and about in the fresh air with some delightful canine companions. She had been helping out a neighbour walking their dog and then a friend, who was a client of VIPPIES, suggested she might enjoy doing a bit more; how right they were. “Although I don’t own a dog of my own, I love their company and I like being their ‘favourite Aunt’ who takes the kids out for some fun then happily hands them back to their regular family!”
The VIPPIES patch covered by Caroline spreads far and wide round the villages including Dunholme, Faldingworth, Nettleham, Scampton and Welton. She usually leaves ‘the woods’ early to mid-morning and will be walking and driving until she gets home late afternoon tired, but happy and sometimes wet! If there is a gap in the schedule, she can pop in on the in-laws at Dunholme or do a bit of shopping, so she is not chained to anything but the dogs. Caroline uses an online calendar with a printout map for her daily tour of duty so she can plan the most efficient way to visit her pups within their allotted time, usually a two-hour window. As with all the walkers Caroline is clear that the best thing about working in Team VIPPIES is: “They’ve got my back! Whenever anything out of the ordinary happens, such as a grass seed stuck in a dog’s nose, they are just a phone call away.” She remembers only too well the day two dogs pulled her over and broke her shoulder, “Boy, did Team VIPPIES rally round! I called as soon as I’d picked myself up off the floor and got help from next-door’s gardeners to secure the dogs, and despite a flaky mobile signal Jade knew something was badly wrong and she got to my side so quickly! Then Dee came to fetch a key, so that the next dog on my list didn’t get left with his little legs crossed. Sheena set off to fetch my husband from work (I had the car so he was going to be stranded at home time) and then, when it became clear no ambulance was coming, they called on a client (a doctor with a dog they care for) and he came to my rescue! I don’t think I’ve ever felt so looked after as when that convoy was driving me to A&E.”
Working as part of the team has taught Caroline about the different behaviours and traits of quite a number of breeds and individual dogs which has led to a real love of the Yorkshire Terrier, “a little dog with heaps of personality”, she said. Recently that love was put to the test when she arrived at one of her regular clients to see the tiniest of Yorkies in the middle of the road. She abandoned her car at the roadside and followed it, getting Jade on the ‘phone in the process for some advice. The trick with absconding dogs is not run after them as they will just keep running away, either because they think it’s a game or because they are scared. Caroline takes up the tale: “So, after a combination of stalking, squeaking a toy to catch its attention, crouching down and calling to it… Well, eventually (poor little thing seemed really scared and was running so fast on those tiny legs!) I did have to just run as fast I could, to cut it off and catch it, because I suddenly realised it was heading back towards a very busy main road” Thankfully Caroline caught the little dog and on the advice of VIPPIES, took it to the local shop, as shop keepers are often familiar with local dogs. They didn’t recognise her but were very helpful and happy to take care of her while VIPPIES prepared to send someone out to take her to the nearest vet to check her chip. However, as Caroline arrived to walk the dog she was there for, someone ran across to her saying their neighbours’ dog was missing, “so the little treasure was soon reunited with her family.”
Caroline is driven by a desire to never let anyone or any pet down, sharing that important commitment to reliability VIPPIES is known for. “When I’m with each dog I love that I have to be 100% focused on keeping that animal safe and giving it the best possible experience.” She is happy that the partnership with owners is one born of mutual respect and just enough direct contact to keep things running smoothly, even when things are dropped in at the last minute. She happily acknowledges that she has everything she needs and that working as part of Team VIPPIES completes her varied days.