Banbury's Barking Mad celebrates 20 years of offering an alternative to dog ownership
Barking Mad Banbury, founded in 2000, match carefully vetted dog sitters with dog owners allowing a less stressful alternative to kennelling for the pooch and allowing sitters the pleasure of dog ownership without the 24/7 commitment.
Jennifer Davies has been a ‘host’ dog sitter for Barking Mad for nearly fourteen years and believes that her hobby has changed her life.
She said: “The best thing about hosting is unconditional love. I always get a lovely good morning greeting with lots of tail wagging and I am much fitter. I have lost five stone in weight.
"Having a dog is much the same as having a baby – people talk to you and make a fuss of the dogs. I have met so many new people with dogs and without.
"My first doggy visitors were Todd and Jazz, two Salukis. In the evenings, Jazz would curl up by my feet and Todd would be beside me with his head on my shoulder, gazing into my eyes. I was totally hooked – who wouldn’t be?
"I have a son who lives in Guernsey who I visit regularly and I like going on holidays with my friends. If I had my own dog, this would make things more complicated. With Barking Mad, I always say I have all of the pleasure and none of the expense or worry about what would happen if I became unwell.”
It has been scientifically proven that stroking and walking dogs can help people to feel more relaxed and less anxious. This makes a huge difference to emotional and physical well-being.
Those caring for a dog are also less likely to be socially isolated, research suggests.
Owner-operator of Barking Mad Banbury, Andrea Cawley, said: “As Barking Mad celebrates its 20th anniversary, our proudest achievement is the happiness which holidaying dogs have brought to the lives of our host families.
"We match friendly dogs to hosts’ preferences and lifestyle, for their holidays and short breaks. It’s ideal for retirees, home-based workers and teachers in school holidays.
"We take care of everything, including chauffeuring dogs to our hosts’ homes with all their essentials and providing 24/7 support. Hosts experience all the benefits of dog companionship without any of the emotional or financial responsibilities of full-time pet ownership.”
To find out more about becoming a Barking Mad host, call 01295 477295 or visit www.barkingmad.uk.com/local/oxfordshire/banbury.