Louise Glazebrook, founder of The Darling Dog Company (specialising in training and behaviour) and author of Dog About Town, chats to us about her English Bulldog Cookie and reveals her top tips for having a dog in the city.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve got a couple of things planned for this year but I can’t really discuss them as yet. One of them is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but there is still a lot to do! I’m also just planning the dates for my outside class which I run in the Summer as well as continuing the work I do on a daily basis of one on one sessions, puppy classes and my work with the Dogs Trust.
What breed is your dog and why did you choose her?
She is an English Bulldog. I spent two years researching her breed as they come in for a great deal of flack regarding their health plus bull breeds aren’t exactly in favour! I love their temperaments and their personalities but I needed to find one that was fit, healthy and bred beautifully. Which is why I spent so long finding the right breeder for us. I wanted a dog who could do exercise but was equally as happy on the sofa with us, I also wanted a dog that loved to be around people. I do foster dogs too but haven’t recently as I have a 16 week old baby but the great thing about fostering is not only helping a dog but also the amount you learn from them.
How do your friends get on with her?
Cookie is a dog who makes you work for her love, she certainly doesn’t dish it out willy nilly! Which I love about her. So there are certain friends of mine who she has known her entire life and who she adores. She goes crazy for them. My friends love her though and especially those with children as she is very gentle.
Is she good with your children?
Yes. I have a two year old and a 16 week old baby and she is amazing. She went deaf three years ago and I think that helps as she can’t hear them! However the caveat I would put to this, is that I have really firm and clear boundaries around the dogs and children. An example is that my son isn’t allowed onto her bed whether she is on it or not. Cookie is an amazing dog and I want her to stay that way so I don’t allow my children to use her as a toy, to taunt or tease her. She has boundaries and I think they deserve to be respected. She does love a snuggle on the sofa with all of us and she happily sits and watches my son play shops.
How long have you had her?
Since a tiny puppy at 8 weeks old.
Does she come with you to work?
As a rule of thumb no, as I don’t believe in taking her to clients homes as it is their dogs home, not a free for all. I do however use her sometimes as a stooge dog for behavioural adjustment training (BAT)
What difference does she make to your life?
She means the world to us, her nickname is the Unicorn as we consider her to be magical! I’ve always been obsessed by dogs but she was the first dog my husband and I have owned together and the day anything happens to her I will have a meltdown. She has taught me so much and I just adore her.
What do you love about her?
Her expressions, her gentle soul, the things she has taught me and the fact that even though her going deaf was a tough situation, we have come through it. She is a dog in a million and the wiggly dance she does for me when I get home is just the best thing ever.
Do you take her on holiday with you and if so where?
We have never taken her abroad with us because my parents look after her when we go away. We do often take her to Norfolk as we go there every year as a family with my sister, her kids, my parents and their dog. The beaches are just lovely and its one of the best places in England I feel.
Does she have any funny ways or have their been any funny incidents involving your Cookie?
Its not a funny thing, but when she was much younger she and I were involved in an incident in a London park where we were attacked. The man attacked me and then picked her up by the collar and choked her. I thought he had killed her and it was such a terrible moment as I couldn’t get to her because of what he was doing. It had a big impact on her and created a few issues which I then had to try to resolve.
Anything you feel strongly about regarding pet welfare?
Too many things to put in this interview. I think the key thing for me is that animal cruelty needs to be taken more seriously, the wider implication of cruelty and mistreatment to an animal can be huge but often people don’t see it that way. If a person will hit and kick and mistreat a dog in public what on earth would they do to children in the privacy of their own home?
Do you take her with you to restaurants and pubs?
I do sometimes but now she is deaf I need to know the lie of the land in a place as she likes to be tucked away. I also don’t do it very often if I have both children with me as I need eyes in the back of my head with them, let alone adding her into the equation! There are a few great places like the Primrose Bakery in NW1, Bodega 50 in N16, The Star by Hackney Downs, the Adam and Eve in E9 and the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch are super kind to you when you have a dog!
Where are your favourite places to take her out with you?
In the Summer I love to go to Abney Park in Stoke Newington as its shady and not jam packed with people, I also spend a lot of time at Hackney Marshes as the dogs can swim and cool down. Wanstead also offers amazing open spaces for dogs and kids alike. I think Bermondsey Street, SE1 has to win for most dog friendly street in London, all the shops and cafés welcome you and your dog.
What are you top 5 tips to having a dog in the city?
1. Take your dog to different parks and green spaces, many of the borough’s have tiny amounts of parks so just don’t settle, you need to make an effort and vary where you go.
2. Just because you can take your dog somewhere doesn’t mean that you should. Every dog is different and don’t keep putting them into situations if they don’t enjoy it.
3. Microchip your dog and make sure it is wearing a collar with a tag on.
4. Avoid flexi leads like the plague as they can teach your dog to pull and if you use them on a London street, your dog could end up under a bus.
5. Respect other people’s and dog’s space, I don’t think its acceptable for a dog to run up and into another dog’s face.
Dog About Town by Louise Glazebrook (Hardie Grant, £12.99) Illustrations: Ping Zhu