Friday, 17 September 2021

Businesswoman gives up office life to ’live the dream’

A WOMAN who gave up her job to start a dog walking business says she’s “living the dream”.

A WOMAN who gave up her job to start a dog walking business says she’s “living the dream”.

Christie Sneddon, 40, of Hamilton Road, Wargrave, left Microsoft in Reading after 14 years to launch The Doggy Walker, which will offer dog sitting as well as walking.

She will run the business from her home, where she lives with husband Jim, 46, who runs an IT security business, and their dogs Luka, two, and Arielle, one.

The couple were married five years ago when Mrs Sneddon was living in Henley, where she grew up.

“Neither of us had dogs as children but I grew up with a family of animals including cats, guinea pigs, horses and even stick insects,” she said.

“I’ve always loved dogs so we decided to get Luka two years ago. That coincided with a change of role at Microsoft, which gave me more time to work at home.

“When I got Luka it was sort of life-changing and that started me thinking about whether I could make a business out of dog walking.

“Then I got Arielle in November and it really confirmed that working with dogs is what I’m passionate about and what I want to do.”

Mrs Sneddon completed a course in pet-sitting in April and has joined the National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers.

She is also a volunteer at the Dog Trouble rehabilitation centre in Wokingham, which she says has given her experience dealing with different types of dogs.

Mrs Sneddon said: “I feel incredibly lucky that I’ve got the opportunity to do this and it does feel like a dream at the moment.

“If it goes to plan I’ll be living the dream. Not many people are lucky enough to do a job they really love. The reason I love dogs is because they all have their own personalities and each one is unique. I also love being outside and walking, come rain or shine.”

Mrs Sneddon says her new job is very different from her previous one as an executive assistant.

She said: “It was my last day two weeks ago and when I got up the next day I was drinking my tea but thinking about work emails and the Friday newsletter I normally did. It’s going to take a while for my brain to switch off from that but it’s exciting times and I’m really looking forward to getting started.

“It’s scary as well, I’ve never been self-employed so there’s nerves as well as excitement.”

She adopted Arielle, a Romanian stray, after seeing an appeal online.

Mrs Sneddon said: “In Romania they have a real problem with stray dogs and the catchers round them up and put them in shelters where they are starved and sometimes beaten. It’s pretty hideous.

“I saw her in a shelter picture on Facebook with a plea for help and I felt such a connection with her.

“I started crying and Jim asked what was wrong with me. I felt she was meant to be our dog.”

Mrs Sneddon got in touch with SOS Saving Romanian Strays, a UK rescue centre, and offered to donate some money.

Instead she was asked to adopt Arielle and the centre helped with the paperwork before paying to bring the dog to Britain.

She was afraid Arielle may not get along with Luka, a husky-German shepherd cross, but soon saw the two would be fine together.

Mrs Sneddon said: “We fostered Arielle at first but she fitted in straight away. She’s still quite fearful but it’s amazing how far she has come.

“She was just 4kg when she was rescued. She was 10kg when we got her and now she’s 15kg, so a normal weight for a dog.”

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