Alex & Friends

With 2 Blogs of my ‘Pawsome Pros’ Series already under my belt, I was all set this week to meet some more amazing dogs – and the lovely lady who looks after them – Alex Mc Cormick.

Alex runs a Dog Walking and Pet Sitting business, called Alex & Friends – and has recently passed the Council’s exacting standards to renew her home boarding service for up to 3 dogs with a 4-star rating.

My first stop is to visit Alex at her home in the North of Colchester, where there are 3 adorable cats to meet before we set out on today’s dog walk. 

Alex’s house is delightful and the sun streams into the kitchen as we chat over a cup of tea. I feel most welcomed by Alex, who has a very friendly and bubbly personality.

Alex is Italian and comes from Naples. She first arrived in London in April 2011. Her working life in the UK was based indoors, which was not ideal. This was a major change to Alex’s life in Italy, where she had grown up surrounded by dogs and horses – spending her time outdoors teaching horse riding and show jumping.

It was whilst in London that Alex met her husband – who hails from Northern Ireland. They started off renting a property in Beckenham – where Alex worked as a store manager for 4 years. The house prices there were too expensive to buy, so 3 years ago, they moved to Colchester – with Alex initially working for the local council for a year.

I admire an advertising poster that Alex has on display and she tells me that she loves to be creative. That was another major reason for giving up the office work, as she had no scope to use those creative talents.

Alex started full time with her business in spring last year – and enjoyed the creative freedom it gave her to design her own website, flyers and posters and also take photos of her canine & feline friends.

She is much happier now and loves being outdoors. I mention that it is actually a lot colder here than Naples – but Alex points out that the weather there can be very humid, so prefers it here !

Alex has 3 cats – siblings Pippy and Elvis – and a feral kitten called Cece.  Pippy and Elvis will be 8 yrs old next week. Alex informs me that they are called Tuxedo cats because their colouring is black and white like a tuxedo. Poor Pippy has suffered from epilepsy since very young and has to take medication every day.  Both are very friendly cats and don’t mind being stroked, or having their pictures taken.

  Alex has always handled and cuddled them right from kittenhood and she believes this has made the difference. They are also fine with dogs – which was a big tick in the box for the dog boarding. Cece is very nervous of any newcomers but I’m lucky to catch a quick photo of her ( although she does look a little startled) She is extremely cute and Alex tells me her beautiful colouring is known as Calico.

 Obviously, Alex will be vetting her potential clients to ensure that any dogs she looks after are cat-friendly.  She tells me that she is pleased to have 2 Cavalier Spaniels coming to stay next week for 10 days. She is really looking forward to it.

Once photos of the cats have been taken, it’s time to head out in the car to collect the dogs. There are 5 dogs to pick up – and apart from one who lives in the town centre, the others are dotted around the North of the town. Alex has a reasonably small car, in which she has special harnesses to secure her doggie clients – so I follow behind her in my car. Once they are all collected, we head towards Highwoods Country Park for our group walk. 

Alex ensures that she appraises any new dogs for their suitability to mix with other dogs – plus whether they have good recall or not. Today’s dogs are all suitable to have a run around off lead – and all get on well together.

I’m really excited to meet the dogs -:

Luke – a 2 year old Black Labrador

Monty – a 7 year old Fox-Red Labrador

Lola – a brindle-coloured French Bulldog

Max & Roxy – brother and sister, brindle Chihuahua mixes.

The dogs are all very excited to be out walking and have no qualms about all the mud and puddles. Max and Roxy stop their excitable barking as soon as they are running free – with Max having great fun chasing Luke around. Luke is very slim and fast with a beautiful shiny coat. He seems huge compared to Max & Roxy. Monty is a stockier build of Lab – and looks completely different to my boy, even though they are the same age. He seems to have very sad-looking eyes, although he is definitely having a super time and loves being with Alex. He is very keen on sticks and stays close to Alex – rather than chasing around with the others.

Lola also seems to be content to chew sticks and at times plays tug of war with Monty.

All the dogs manage to get into the lake to some degree – with only Luke going for an actual swim. I get the impression that he underestimated how cold it was, as he spends the next few minutes repeatedly trying to shake the water off ! He is very puppy-like still and really enjoys it when I get my tennis ball out for him and Max to play with.

Max and Roxy are very small and cute with curly tails. They move super quick and do a very sweet thing of posing with one paw up.

I really enjoyed taking the photos of the dogs – it was a good challenge for me to try to catch them standing still, whilst I attempted to get down low enough without slipping over in the copious amount of mud.

I chat to Alex as we walk around – and she tells me that being outdoors, walking the dogs, has other tangible benefits for her. She suffers from Hypermobility – which although it makes her very flexible, it causes strain and wear & tear on the body’s joints. She previously had a doggie client who she had to give up walking, because he pulled strongly on the lead – and dislocated her shoulder. One of the best remedies for her condition is to keep fit and strengthen muscles, so that there is less pressure placed on the joints – so dog walking really helps with this.

Alex tells me that she has also suffered from anxiety and depression in the past – and that the outdoor life she now leads, shared with these lovely animals, has really helped her to overcome these debilitating problems. I can understand exactly what she means and I explain how much Rusty has helped me in this same regard.

 

Alex has a very kind nature and the dogs are very fond of her. It’s lovely to witness the group happily playing together and getting thoroughly messy.

 In the short time I have spent with Alex, I can tell she is a positive, happy individual –  and her enthusiasm for her doggie clients is clear to see.

I’m hoping to catch up with her next week to see how she is enjoying looking after the 2 Spaniels – and perhaps getting some more special photos …

You can find Alex at -: 

https://alexandfriends.co.uk

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