How rescue dog Flint inspired a Bentham woman to transform her life,
PUBLISHED: 13:55 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:55 08 September 2017
Business owner Carolyne Lobb on how her dog changed her career and lifestyle
At the age of 38 Carolyne Lobb realised she was no longer happy in her work as an NHS researcher and that things had to change. ‘The NHS was going through massive changes, I was on short term contracts; there were lots of job changes and folk were under a lot of stress,’ she said. ‘I remember sitting on the motorway going into Manchester at 7am, stuck in traffic on a dark winter morning and thinking there must be more to life than this’.
Despite warnings from friends, Carolyne gave up the security of a well-paid profession and for six years worked at a succession of part time jobs. ‘I have always loved animals and was working as a self-employed farm secretary when I got Flint, a rescue dog. He is my third rescue dog and despite my years of experience with rescue dogs I had never considered working with dogs until I got Flint.’
As we chat in the dog friendly Traddock Hotel in Austwick, four-year-old Flint stays close to Carolyne and their remarkable bond is clear to see. ‘He wasn’t always like this,’ laughs Carolyne. ‘When I got him two years ago he was aggressive and totally untrained. One night, after having him for a short time, I became frightened to go down stairs for a glass of water and realised things had come to a head. I read The Psychology of Border Collies from cover to cover, got some advice and began intensive training so he realised things had to be done on my terms’.
Carolyne’s hard work paid off and, with Flint adjusting happily to his new life, she was inspired to set up her business, All My Animals, last year. ‘Flint challenged me at every step on the way but he made me stronger and more resilient, so you could argue that he changed me as much as I changed him. He was the catalyst for the change that led to the launch of my business.
‘I realised that there are already dog walking services in the area and wanted to offer more. I offer a variety of services from sleepovers for dogs where I look after them in their own home for short periods and sit-ins and pop-ins for cats. Some people want me to sit with their cats, play with them and feed them. Others may just ask us to pop in and change the litter tray and give their pets food and water or perhaps medication.’
Ever enterprising, Carolyne also uses her spare room at her home in Bentham to board small animals such as guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits and on one occasion a family of pet rats. She is currently looking for a family who will do dog boarding for her but hasn’t found the right fit yet.
‘I also help with small holdings. I’ve looked after horses, dogs, hens and ducks and even goats. Because the business has taken off I now employ three part time staff – one of my team has knowledge of horses and another has had experience with sheep and lambs so I use their expertise where necessary, which might include putting pyjamas on a horse!’
And Carolyne added: ‘In the first month of setting up I walked four dogs. Now I average about 50. I always go out to the customer and, living in such a beautiful area, have access to lots of fantastic walks. The people who use us are from all walks of life with some using us from six hours a week to one walk a fortnight. Before I take a dog on I always meet the customer and the dog for free to make sure that everyone is happy – I don’t take on aggressive dogs. Then I will only walk the dog one-to-one in the first three months. After that I will walk the dog in a group of other dogs of a similar temperament and we always walk at the pace of the slowest dog.’
Flint has certainly given the paws up to walking with canine companions. ‘I walk him with dogs that I know he will get on with. The socialisation has helped him to settle and he gets lots of extra exercise. Both of us benefit – I’m much happier and healthier now that I’m regularly walking dogs. I can eat anything and always have a stash of food in the car.’
Carolyne explains with more than a hint of pride that she thinks the thing that currently helps Flint above all else is joining the NW Dark Destroyer Agility Club: ‘I was worried about him lunging and nipping other dogs at first but he loves to have a purpose and has really taken to it. He’s doing grade one under the name of Fiery Flint and I’ve just registered him to compete in events.’
The RSPCA, who re-homed Flint, now quote Carolyne’s achievements with such a needy dog when other people are looking to take on a rescue dog. And she hopes to use her talents further: ‘I am looking into franchising in the future and hope to do a course with the Association of Pet Dog Trainers so that I can teach dog handling. I’ve learned that it’s never too late to turn a dog’s life around – and your own! I hope that my story inspires others to find a new destination where they can enjoy the journey along the way.
‘I’m passionate about my work and I love the variety. I earn less money but am much happier than I have ever been, and I’m in control of my own destiny. It’s my vision, it’s not someone else’s dream. What more can I ask for?