Me & My Pet: Nikki Tibbles

We catch up with the iconic florist Nikki Tibbles, Founder of Wild at Heart, in amongst the excitement of the Chelsea Flower Show to talk about her charity – Wild at Heart Foundation. We hear about her mission to make a lasting change to help abandoned and unloved dogs receive the care and love they deserve, as well as her passion for animal welfare. 

Tell us about the charity and what you are working on at the moment

I founded Wild at Heart Foundation in 2015 with one ambition: to compassionately reduce the world’s 600 million stray dog population. It is completely astounding that 75% of the global dog population are street dogs without an owner to care for them. Each and every dog on this planet deserves the chance to live a healthy, happy life, free from the threat of pain, suffering, cruelty or neglect. 

The mission of the Foundation is to make real and lasting change and to help these abandoned and unloved dogs receive the care they deserve. We work closely with global project partners to facilitate sterilisation, education and welfare programmes to achieve this goal. 

The charity is currently working across multiple projects, including a long-term sterilisation drive in India, a country where there is now an estimated stray dog population of around 60 million. Sterilisation really is the only humane method of managing the global stray dog population.

The Foundation is also continuing to support the vulnerable stray dogs of Ukraine, with 400kg of food due to be delivered via our project partner in Romania in the next couple of weeks.

Our resource centre in Mexico, in conjunction with other amazing community organisations, is doing wonderful work sterilising and vaccinating both stray and owned dogs; 500 were sterilised during March and April! 

There is so much power in collaboration; and by working together towards a common goal, we can get that bit closer to helping make the world a better, kinder place.

Tell us about your lovely dogs and what made you fall in love with them 

I find the ones that no one else wants! Or they’re black, or deaf, or in some way not appealing to other people. 

They might have behavioural issues, or they might remind me of a dog I’ve had previously, or maybe I found them in a shelter or on the side of a road. I bring them home with me and unfortunately, I’m a very failed foster…. or fortunately! 

What is a typical day for you and your dogs?

Rita wakes me up at 5.15 am every morning because she likes to go and find the windfall pears and apples, even in the middle of winter. We go back to bed for a couple of hours whilst I work, then a long walk before I start my day.

Depending on what my day consists of, I might take 2 dogs to my office, or they might stay at home in the country in a 20-acre field playing with each other quite happily, having the best time.

I feed them at 4.30 pm every day as they start shouting at me! I cook vegetarian food for them – they have a plant-based diet with lots of supplements, amino acids and gut support.  They are the healthiest dogs I’ve ever had

Do they prefer London or the countryside?

With a 20-acre field at their disposal and room to run with wild abandon, the countryside is definitely their preferred location! 

What life lessons have they taught you?

 Unconditional love, trust, empathy, compassion, kindness; and an understanding that everyone should treat people and animals equally with nothing but kindness and love.

If you show a dog kindness and love it will be the best thing in your life; the same as a human, there is no difference. There is no such thing as a bad dog, it’s a bad owner.

What do you feel particularly strongly about with regard to animal welfare?

 Dog breeding, the introduction of new breeds for a society with allergies. Puppy mills and industrial farming of all animals, which is why I am vegan. The dairy industry and the killing of male chicks, which is why I could never eat an egg. Any animal cruelty and animal tourism astounds me. To this day I cannot understand that people can be so evil and cruel to any sentient being.


Favourite destinations and which PetsPyjamas hotel would you like to visit with your dog?

My favourite destinations, in general, are those where I come into contact with dogs! I adore rambling, old buildings with character and space, with unobstructed views of the countryside around.

Anran Manor in Devon, with its rustic charm and rural location looks delightful.