A tribute to Lily the Labrador

lillyWe lost another dear pet in April, Lily the Labrador; her owners Lea and Jeff have been loyal clients of While You’re Away, since Lily was a puppy, way back in 2001.

Dear Lily died just short of her sixteenth birthday, bless her she was the sweetest girl, as you see from the photo taken not long before she died; we will all miss her very much.

A few tears were shed by her regular pet sitters, they all loved Lily and it was never a problem getting our sitters to care for her and her companion, Poppy the cat.

We hope you are running around like you used to Lily, wherever you are.

Checking for ticks on your dogs and cats

black dog
All this paperwork to do and not even a biscuit with my coffee!

Hello everyone, isn’t it great to have some good weather at last?! I have been rolling around in the grass, having fun in the sun.

However, the long wet winter has brought an unprecedented level of ticks, lurking in the long grass and the woodlands, so please watch out for them. Do check your dogs and cats regularly and treat them with the preparations that are put onto our necks and shoulders, the effects last for a month and also mean that we don’t get fleas either.

Ticks come in a variety of sizes depending on how old they are and how recently they have fed, from the size of a pin head up to around the size of a fingernail. They are oval or rounded in appearance, and come in a range of colours from a pale cream up to a fairly deep dark grey or brown, and everything in between.

Generally, the appearance of a tick on your pet’s skin will look like a small rounded pebble, as once a tick has attached itself to your pet you will be unable to see their legs or the probe which they use to pierce the skin with.

We can contract nasty infections from these nasty little arachnids, especially if they are not removed correctly, leaving the mouth parts behind. There is a special tool available very cheaply from pet shops/online, it is turned anti-clockwise, (the ticks bury their heads into your pet by turning clockwise), clever little devils aren’t they?

See photo below.

ticks removal

Dogs left alone at home

We have around 9 million dogs as a part of our family, living in our homes, in the UK.

A recent survey has shown that approximately 2.3 million dogs are left alone all day or in excess of 6 hours, whilst owners are at work. Here at While You’re Away, our pet sitters follow the Veterinary Association guidelines, never to leave the dogs, in their care for more than 4 hours. This is written into our Code of Practise and religiously adhered to.

dog_walking3Please remember that these wonderful companions have evolved, over thousands of years, to live and work with us. Until the late 19th /early 20th, century most dogs worked for us, hunting or herding all day long, they had a job to do. These days, they have become unemployed and it is up to us to compensate, by giving them an outlet for all that energy.

Some breeds suffer more than others, when left alone for long periods, those with instinctive working skills, Collies, Spaniels and Retrievers, for example.

Do research the breeds and try to choose a pet to match your lifestyle. For those of us who do work, a long energetic walk before leaving in the morning, will help to keep your pet calm, as will leaving the radio on and providing stimulating toys for them.

Best of all, if it is affordable, consider a “Dog Walker”, once a day, to break the loneliness and boredom. A one hour visit, will cost around £10.00 and will make all the difference to your dog’s life and to yours too!

Winter months pet and wild life care

Here I am helping Rosey with the invoices, it’s a dog’s life in here it really is!


We are very busy this month, as usual after the Christmas break. Clients are booking their summer holidays already; so, if you need us to look after your pets, it is never too early.

Don’t forget we care for every type of pet, from hamsters to horses and farm animals too, no pet too big , too small or too exotic!

This month I am reminding all my readers about looking after our garden wildlife as well as our pets. January and February can be very hard on the little creatures, the birds in particular.

You will see a few ‘Polly tips’ to help our wonderful and diverse garden visitors, listed below.

Provide some water for wildlife, a bird bath is good – creating a pond is even better!
If your garden is suitable plant a native British tree or shrub such as hawthorn, holly or rowan this provides shelter and food for birds and other animals.

Grow some native flowers in your garden to help local wildlife – you can use the Natural History Museum’s Postcode Plants Database website to find out which plants are suitable and which animals live in your area.

Put up nest boxes for birds or bats on trees and fences – or have a special nest box for bees in your garden.

Put out food for the birds – seeds, peanuts and fatballs in feeders, or on a bird table.
Make a compost heap.

Choose garden plants that provide food or shelter for wildlife, such as buddleia, sunflowers, clematis, cotoneaster, lavender and other herbs.

Collect rainwater in a water butt, mulch your flowerbeds, and grow plants that are drought tolerant.

Don’t tidy up your garden too much – old plant stems and log or leaf piles make cosy winter quarters for helpful animals such as ladybirds and hedgehogs!

Avoid using pesticides and chemical fertilisers – going organic is better for wildlife, and for you!

Goodbye for now, keep warm!

Hello everyone

dogWell, there I was chasing off a helicopter that dared to fly over the office and generally having fun, when I was called back to write this blog – goodness me, I really do work with spoilsports!

We are all busy helping people to get away for a Christmas holiday. This is always a busy time of year for us, so if there is anyone out there needing a 2015 Christmas booking, please let us know as early as possible in the year.

As the ‘festive season’ is almost upon us, I am offering some advice about the human food that you enjoy, but is toxic to me and my friends. I am sure that you are aware of the top 3 really toxic foodstuffs, but I have still included them in the list.


This contains Theobromine and is very toxic to us causing heart, central nervous system and kidney problems. We would love to eat chocolate, if we got the chance, so PLEASE hide all your Christmas chocs away safely.


I know some of our owners like to treat us to the odd treat of milky tea, however, caffeine causes similar problems to chocolate, plus we cannot digest milk either. All in all, it is much safer to let us only drink water.

Grapes /raisins and sultanas

It isn’t understood yet what the toxic substance is in grapes but they can and do cause kidney failure. No Christmas cake for us please!!!


Garlic and chives too, but onions in particular, whether raw or cooked are toxic to us. If, as some owners do, you feed human baby food to puppies, do take care that it doesn’t contain dried onion flavouring.


Although almost all vegetables are very good for us, avocados contain ‘Persin’ in the fruit itself, the leaves and the skin. If we ingest any of this, it will cause vomiting and diarrhoea, so please keep your avocado and prawn Christmas starters AND the throw away bits, well away from us!!!

Do get us to the vet as soon as you can, if we do manage to snaffle any of the above, when you are not looking. Some of us are able to absorb these toxins with not too much ill effect, equally to some of us they are deadly, even in small quantities.

Speak to you again soon.


A very late June blog!

PollyEverybody is very busy with summer bookings.  You can see, by the expression on my face, I have to do the filing again!

I would like to introduce you to Bob Maddox, one of our sitters.  Bob is a pet portrait artist (he is so busy with clients that I am still waiting for my personal pet portrait!)

If any of our clients are interested in Bob’s work, please contact us here, at While You’re Away Ltd on 0845 450 4999 or 01952 461020, and we will be happy to send details, including prices.

Bob’s Blog.

I’ve been working with pastels since 2005 when Belinda & I were lucky enough to live in a small village in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain’s Granada Province.  The villages, landscape and people of the region bought out the latent artist in me and after experimenting with watercolour and oils, I found that pastels were the ideal medium for me to capture something of the wild, extravagant beauty of the place and its people.

Working with Sue and Rosey at While You’re Away Ltd has given me the opportunity to meet and paint other interesting characters!  I work from photographs and my aim is to produce high quality work at very affordable prices.  Maybe you have a favourite photograph of your pet which you would like me to paint?  Please see some examples of my work below.