After 30 years in journalism Nicky Findley was finally unleashed in November 2019 to pursue a new business, Sandy Paws Adventures, a dog walking and boarding service with a difference.

Nicky had always kept dogs and when she sadly lost her two pets close together, friends clamoured to ask her to care for theirs and a business idea blossomed.

Now, in addition to regular dog walking services and home visits, she also take people’s four-legged friends on activity holidays in the family VW campervan.

She's taken canines on kayaks, pups on paddle boards and mutts up mountains. Last Christmas they took two dogs with them to the Lake District where they explored the fells, crossed rivers and swam in lakes - for one of them it was the first time she had seen snow.

 A key part of the Sandy Paws service is that they always send regular photos and text messages to the owners so they can see what their pet has been up to while they have been away to give them peace of mind.

Nicky said: "It sounds barking mad, but we sometimes send postcards from the dogs about the new experiences they have had and clients love it!"

She is convinced dogs really benefit from these adventures and research seems to bear this out.

Graeme Hall, presenter of Channel 4’s Dogs Behaving Badly, says travel not only benefits a canine’s physical and mental well-being, but can also lead to better behaviour long-term.

“Contrary to what most dog trainers and behaviourists will tell you – dogs are more like humans than you might think,” he says. “Just like us, they need a break every now and again.”

And living in Dorset we don’t have to go far to get away from it all with beautiful beaches at Branksome Chine and Sandbanks on our doorstep as well the Isle of Purbeck and the New Forest National Park.

Nicky says: "This is the perfect job if you love dogs and the great outdoors, although it carries a big responsibility as a dog is an important part of the family and the majority of our clients are from the Canford Cliffs and Sandbanks area where people expect the highest levels of customer service.

"All our VIPs (Very Important Pets) live in our family home in Branksome Park and I can still squeeze in some freelance work in between walks.It means I’ve been able to cut down the amount of time I spend in front of a computer and offer the best possible dog care service."

Even now during lockdown she is busy with many clients who are key workers or medics.She says: "Many of our clients joke that their pets appear to have had a better holiday than they have, which is the best compliment I could wish for!"

More info on Sandy Paws Adventures on Facebook and Instagram, or call Nicky on 07949 350674.