From Jack Russell Uggie, star of Oscar-winning film The Artist, to cocker spaniel Lupo, Kate’s Middleton’s cute walkies companion, it seems we are all a flutter for a little puppy love. And in the capital, that flutter is more of a fever.
Like many Londoners, I too am smitten and our family recently acquired Wilson, a Cairn terrier, whose posh lineage dates back to Sweden. And in our walkies ground of Notting Hill, it is Puppy Central. The Curtises have one and what the Curtises do all of Notting Hill does.
One in five households in the UK has a dog, a total of almost eight million — most of which most seem to live in my neighbourhood. Of the five pet boutiques in my immediate vicinity all had recently run out of “organic” pee deterrent spray. “We’ve never seen so many puppies before,” says Aaron Jessop of Clarendon Cross Canines which walks, looks after and grooms the hair of some of London’s most famous pups.
Of course, when trendy, rich, famous types get dogs, they don’t just get a basket and tuck them up in the utility room. They hire help. From dannys (dog nannys), to dog boarding schools and even dog behaviouralists; the childcare industry pales by comparison. Lucy Kennedy of Happy Dogs — Notting Hill’s best known danny, who will even do toilet training for you — says those who have gone dog mad have, because they can afford to. “If there weren’t people like us to walk, entertain and look after dogs when people are at work or on holiday, people wouldn’t bother.” Lucy looks after at least eight posh pups a week and charges £30 a day for doggy day care — and £50 per hour for doggy training.
Other top local doggy nurseries include (to name but a few) My Ideal Puppy, Urban Mutts and Halo Dogs. But don’t just think you can plonk your pup in on a whim —entry requires introductions and strategic planning, as they are often booked-up further in advance than many pre-schools.
Of course, many people still claim that “it’s not fair to have a dog in London” — where so many of us work long hours — and so few have farmyard expanses of outdoor space. However, they have absolutely no idea how wonderful a metropolitan mutt’s life can be. They get to play (off lead) with celebrities’ and hedge funders’ dogs in Kensington Gardens, eat delicious treats from organic delis, get more pedicures than Posh Spice and even sleep in silver leaf four-poster beds by Jimmie Martin.
We put our sons down for schools about a month into their lives. Wilson, however, was put down for The Dog House, set in hundreds of acres of Welsh countryside, before we even took him home. The doggy hotel cum school is owned and run by Mark and Gillian Thompson, and their clientelle is almost exclusively from London. “We collect every week from Hammersmith — and [our business] is all through word of mouth,” explains Gillian.
The Dog House is far harder to get into than any boarding school I know of and is frequented by the pets of crown princes, world leaders and Goldman Sachs partners. Gillian is presently developing a line of dog treats and will also release a training video teaching pups all the same things boarding schools do: social skills, good manners, respect for authority even swimming strokes. Of course none of this comes cheap — and a week’s stay will set you back hundreds. However, book your pooch in for a gun dog course — for hunts — and the costs start running into thousands.
Also, the Dog House only takes in new dogs if they come for a trial week. “We had a customer call and ask if someone has to die for a place to become available,” adds Gillian.
Poor Wilson had to withstand a trial to get in, but we have round-the-clock tutors (some canine), not to mention the whole family on hand and paw to help him prepare.
“Dogs are the only fashion item that loves you back,” jokes Eleanor O’Keefe — who started the popular 5×15 talks — and like me, also owns a Cairn terrier. “Unconditional love — from pets — has never been more fashionable.” And of course, unlike children (who often find us redundant by the age 15), they will always need you. A friend with terminal cancer said the only reason she is still on the planet is because her dog needs to be taken out in the morning. “Otherwise I would have curled up and died a long time go,” she adds.
In an era of narcissism and self-centredness, dogs offer a healthy respite. Since Wilson arrived life is simpler (we are up at 6:30 every morning to take him out). I write to pay the danny, not to win a Pulitzer Prize.
At the moment, happiness is simply walking Wilson.
Special Slay concierge Tip:
Meanwhile If you are thinking about getting in on this latest social status craze, you can’t have a posh puppy without the shenanigans that go with having one.
But not to worry Introducing the fantastical world of Yvette Ruta Luxury Design. To enter this world is to enter a truly rarified realm. Yvette Rita delight in creating the most devilishly decadent designs for those divinely discerning pets known to look down their noses at anything less. When only the best is best for the animal apple of your eye, they offer you the ultimate in canine couture, from collars and coats to frocks and faux fur. And it don’t end there.
For your doggie’s delight, they proffer pet carriers and pet furniture, bedding and blankets, cuddle cups and snuggle sacks. All are expertly handcrafted and embellished with various Swarovski elements, semi-precious stones, designer and antique buttons, handmade flowers, ribbons and trims. For further information or to book a complimentary design session, please email or call the contact details below then watch as they make your delicious dreams a reality and turn your precious pet into a show stopper.
Tel: +1 940 464 2008
Sources: Evening Standard