Dog walking business supporting key workers
- Credit: Danielle Booden
It was a dream come true after years of taking in rescue dogs.
And despite the pandemic, Rackheath-based Fur and Simple pet care services, which was set up by Ali Steward, who walks people's dogs, is carrying on.
Mrs Steward, 51, who established the business in 2018 after several years working for social services, said numbers of dogs she cares for has decreased since last year's lockdown but her role remains vital for key workers.
Known as Auntie Ali by pet owners, she is continuing to walk dogs of frontline workers including NHS staff and teachers.
She also walks a few dogs of people who are working from home as well as vulnerable people, including elderly people who are shielding.
Mrs Steward said: "We are having to adapt. We regularly wipe equipment like leads or use our own."
She even uses adapted house entrances, including garages and garden gates, so she doesn't have to go into people's houses.
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"During the first lockdown last year I didn't work for the first two-and-a-half months but now everyone knows a lot more about being able to work safely. We know what we can and cannot do," Mrs Steward said.
She added: "Some customers leave home for work at 6.30am and for a 12-hour shift. A dog cannot be left in their house for long periods of time on their own. That is why it is important the business is in place.
"People are really good. If they are awaiting a Covid-19 test, they wait for me to arrive until they have a result ."
She set up the business after turning 50 and initially included a service where dogs would stay in her home while people went on holiday, as well as walking the animals.
The home boarding service has temporarily stopped while people are not going on holidays.
Mrs Steward, who has two children, added: "I have always had animals and rescue dogs. It was a dream to start the business."
Before the lockdown she looked after 16 dogs per week, Monday to Friday, but after the lockdown was introduced she walks between one and two dogs per day and generally walks up to five dogs per week.
For information search Fur and Simple pet care services on Facebook.