The Nidderdale Voices column with professional dog walker Sarah Sawford
After being born and brought up in Harrogate you couldn’t have a better introduction to Nidderdale life than coming to work at The Crown in Pateley.
This becomes even better when Denis Audsley, the long-term landlord of The Crown just happens to be your uncle. Such was the arrival of Sarah Sawford who came to live amongst us nine years ago and is now a settled member of our community.
As a child all Sarah ever wanted was a dog. Dogs were her main interest and all her books and cuddly toys reflected her interest. Her father would probably have given way to her pleadings earlier, but her mother held out until Sarah was 11 years old and then Topper joined the family and became a very important part of her life.
After leaving school Sarah started work caring for the elderly, changing course after the birth of her son to take up catering. Although she loved both these jobs she really wanted to be out in the open air.
Gardening offered an opportunity and whilst working at this she found that she was also using the skills she had developed during her caring career and helping her clients with all sorts of other jobs.
It was whilst gardening in Masham for Rosemary Shrager that she was asked to help with preparation in the cook’s kitchen.
It was when settled in the Dale and living in Glasshouses that the idea of a dog walking business entered her head and to do this properly Sarah took courses and gained qualifications.
A dog first aid certificate and completion of a course in dog behaviour were to prove useful and she had to make sure that she was adequately insured.
It was only after this that “Doggies in the Dales” was launched.
Describe a typical day
At the moment I have 16 clients on my books. I leave home at 8.30am and set out to pick up my first set of dogs that I am going to walk. Each dog is placed in a separate crate in the van and off we go.
With the owners’ permission and providing that dogs have a good recall they are let off the lead .With the dogs I explore all parts of Nidderdale from climbing Brimham Rocks to Scar.
I probably walk 10 miles a day.
Sometimes my day is not confined to dogs as I also look after cats in their own homes if owners are going away on holiday. I did an interesting Feline Behaviour Course at the Bishopton Veterinary Centre.
I still own two dogs of my own – a Springer and a Border terrier.
However busy I am I always find time for a weekly visit to Eileen Burgess. Eileen has done so much for Nidderdale and to me she is a very special lady.
What would be your perfect day out?
Walking in the Lake District. Coniston is of special significance to my husband and myself. I completed a 27 mile walk in aid of Macmillan nurses.
What is your favourite part of the dale?
Scar and Middlesmoor.
What is your favourite Nidderdale business?
The Pet Shop in Pateley. Sue is so helpful and will always order my needs.
What is the biggest change you have experienced?
Since moving to Glasshouses my life has just got better.
What makes Nidderdale special?
Its variety. Accessible shops, history, entertainment and beautiful countryside.
If there is one thing that you could change what would it be?
I would like to own a house up at Scar.