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Wanted: dog cuddlers in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 11:22 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:22 09 December 2019

Jamie and her daughter Arabella love having Helen Tyler's cockerpoo, Nellie, to stay. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Jamie and her daughter Arabella love having Helen Tyler's cockerpoo, Nellie, to stay. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

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A south Norfolk dog sitting service has launched a Christmas recruitment drive for new hosts.

Helen Tyler, owner of Barking Mad South Norfolk, with her Cockerpoo, Nellie. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMANHelen Tyler, owner of Barking Mad South Norfolk, with her Cockerpoo, Nellie. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

From encouraging people to get outdoors and get active to strengthening social networks to companionship, there are many positives to owning a dog.

For those who love dogs, but can't have a pooch living with them permanently, Barking Mad South Norfolk has launched Christmas recruitment drive to sign up dog cuddlers.

Run by Helen Tyler, Barking Mad South Norfolk matches up owners with someone to take care of their dog while they are out during the day or on holiday as an alternative to kennels.

Jamie and her daughter, Arabella, who live in the Wymondham area, are some of Helen's latest recruits. They recently moved to the area and having dogs to stay has helped them get to know the area.

Nellie the Cockerpoo is Barking Mad South Norfolk's mascot. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMANNellie the Cockerpoo is Barking Mad South Norfolk's mascot. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Their guests have included Helen's own dog, and Barking Mad South Norfolk mascot, Nellie the Cockerpoo.

"We saw an advert on Facebook for dog cuddlers, and when we looked into Barking Mad and what they offered to hosts it sounded exactly what we had been looking for," says Jamie. "We aren't in a position to be able to have a dog of our own at the moment, but we love dogs and were always saying how lovely it would be if we could borrow a dog. By being a host for Barking Mad we are able to look after different dogs when it suits us."

The first step after contacting Helen was to arrange a home visit.

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"Helen needed to check that our home was a safe environment for a dog to stay and that our garden was secure. It was also a chance to find out a bit more about Barking Mad and for Helen to get to know a bit more about us," says Jamie.

"We were given a welcome pack which outlined that as a host what we are expected to offer the dogs and some guidelines on keeping the dogs safe while they stay with us."

Nellie was the first dog that stayed with them.

"She is such a sweetie," says Jamie. "Having Arabella we need a dog that is good with and used to children, and Nellie loves children and when Arabella comes home from school and at weekends they are inseparable.

"We've looked after four different dogs so far, and had Nellie come to stay twice. We've been hosting for four months now, so about once a month we have a dog stay. All the dogs we've looked after have loved their walks and then coming home to snuggle up on the sofa. Nellie's favourite game is chasing leaves which is great at this time of year, so we go out and look for a pile of leaves and then kick them up in the air and Nellie chases them and tries to catch them in her mouth. She can jump really high - we can spend ages doing that with her.

"It has been nice being able to have different breeds of dog stay so that we can see the characteristics of different breeds. It has been really nice being able to go on walks as a family. Although we spend a lot of time together anyway, but it's been good to get out in the fresh air as a family and it also makes us more active. We only moved to Wymondham six months ago so it has also helped us get to know the area. We've found some lovely places to walk nearby. Also having the Barking Mad charity walks have been nice to be able to meet other dog owners and hosts. We've also really enjoyed all the cuddles with the dogs!"

"From my point of view, they are perfect hosts," says Helen. "They make every single dog the centre of their world when they stay with them and are just brilliant. For me, I need to feel comfortable leaving a dog with any host, knowing that they will be loved and safe and I never have any doubt with Jamie and the family."

Helen has been a host herself and knows how far-reaching the benefits can be.

"I was a teacher and couldn't have a dog full time, so hosting suited me perfectly in the school holidays. I loved having a dog in the house and it just completely transformed my days, meaning I got out more, spoke to more people and saw my local area."

Find out how to volunteer here.

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