My name is Hattie and I’m a dog business photographer living in Plymouth, Devon. I live in a first storey flat with my partner and our two working cocker spaniels. Woody (black) is 3 years old and I adopted him in September 2017. Henry (ginger) is 5 and I adopted him in June 2019, he was originally one of my foster dogs for Spaniel Aid UK but I decided to fail foster and adopt him shortly after collecting him!
We live in Plymouth, South Devon and I moved here from Cornwall earlier this year. We live in a dog friendly first storey flat near the sea. While we don’t have a garden, we do have a balcony with astro turf and are in walking distance of plenty of beaches, which we’re greateful for during lockdown.
We are currently on lockdown but the South West of England has far fewer cases of the virus compared to other regions. The guidelines state that we should only leave our house for essential trips, such as food shopping, travelling to and from work if it can’t be done at home and one form of exercise per day. This has been tricky for us, as we don’t have a garden so need to take the dogs outside regularly so they can do their business. Recent developments mean we can drive short distances to exercise, though we try to keep this to a minimum, usually once per week when we’re already travelling to do our food shopping in large supermarkets.
I’m a professional photographer and content writer, working with outdoor lifestyle and dog businesses across the UK and Europe. I usually work from home, as I’m self-employed so there hasn’t been too much disruption to my usual routine.
We have been enjoying lie ins recently and are rarely up and ready for breakfast before 12:00! The dogs love snoozing in their crate together and are loving the lazy mornings. We’ll usually take the dogs out to toilet once we’ve had breakfast and then I work for the majority of the afternoon. We save our once a day exercise slot for the evening, when the beaches are generally quieter so the dogs can have free reign. Then we have dinner usually around 20:00 and chill out together in the evening.
I used to walk the dogs 3 times per day in various locations (we live half an hour or so from Dartmoor) in both Devon and Cornwall. Understandably we can’t do that at the moment so we’ve had to adjust to just doing the same local walks. We have managed to find a few hidden gems though, despite living in the city, including a quiet beach that is rarely busy.
We’re all doing alright, fortunately not much has changed from our usual routine. The dogs are loving having my partner around, he was deployed for a month overseas while the lockdown restrictions were being decided. Now he’s back the dogs won’t leave him alone!
The dogs really love their K9 Connectables toys. They’re so versatile, as they float, can be stuffed with treats and fit in a ball launcher, we use them multiple times a day! Hen’s blind so having a brightly coloured toy when playing fetch helps me locate it when he can’t see. I always lose tennis balls in long grass! He loves the water too so we take the toys to the beach most nights. Woody prefers them stuffed with peanut butter and hidden around the flat so he has to sniff them out. My second tip is to let dogs play together, it’s amazing how our two manage to tire each other out. They’re very noisey when they play and it can be misinterpreted as something more hostile. So long as we supervise them they play really well together the majority of the time, which is one of the main reasons I adopted Henry to begin with. Finally, I think it’s important to let go of any expectations when it comes to being a dog owner. We’re living through strange times and nothing in certain at the moment. The pressure to be the ‘perfect’ owner is overwhelming at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. If like us you’re not waking up until the afternoon, or you’ve swapped to cheaper food brands because your income is unpredictable, don’t beat yourself up! So long as your dogs are happy, healthy and safe, you’re doing a great job and that’s all we can really ask for.
We really miss hiking, climbing, wild camping and dog friendly road trips. I’ve had to cancel a few adventures in the UK plus a road trip to the Alps already, which is disappointing. I know the mountains, oceans and moors will still be there when restrictions are lifted and I can’t wait to get out exploring again! In the meantime, I’m making my way through my library of outdoor adventure books to pass the time, as well as binge watching climbing films on Netflix and YouTube.
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