Hosts are not barking mad... but they do love their dogs!

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Dog lovers know only too well how much having a four-legged best friend can enrich their lives.

There’s nothing better than coming home to someone who loves you unconditionally.

But if you can’t have a dog in your life permanently, we’ve discovered a way to still enjoy their company – without the full time commitment.

Barking Mad, the UK’s leading dog sitting company, offers the perfect solution.

It matches hosts with a furry friend on a temporary dog holiday – as an alternative to kennels – which gives the dog’s owner peace of mind and the host a chance to look after a dog for a short time.

And it is all set up and organised by local Barking Mad representatives who take this often informal arrangement and make it fully safe, insured and easy to take part in – without costing the host a penny.

As a dog holiday host, people provide a loving home environment where their four-legged visitor relaxes and feels at home.

Regular exercise and companionship is the host’s part of the deal and the cost, administration and transport is dealt with by Barking Mad.

There is also no need to worry about paperwork or dealing with the customer – as that is all taken care of.

As a dog host, all you need to do is meet with your Barking Mad dog holiday agent and agree together the type of dogs you like and when you are available to look after them.

Sandra Maclean (54) from Grangemouth has been a host for seven months and has loved every minute of it.

Her golden labrador, Sandy, is eleven and has severe arthritis.

But having other dogs in the house has helped both Sandy...and his owner.

Sandra explained: “I was feeling pretty low when I saw the advert for Barking Mad.

“It has really helped to perk me up and Sandy loves having other dogs in the house for company too.

“We’ve had countless dogs since the summer and Sandy has got along with them all.

“I don’t like the thought of dogs going to kennels so Barking Mad appealed to me.

“Of course, I love dogs – my partner Kevin actually says I prefer them to him!

“Barking Mad provides absolutely everything you need for the dogs, as well as letting you know about all their individual wee quirks.

“It’s fantastic because you know that the people who are involved all absolutely love dogs too.”

Sandra’s doggy visitors have been organised by Jakki Gunn (45), from Cumbernauld, who runs the Barking Mad franchise in the north Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Falkirk areas.

Jakki visits each host to ensure their home and garden is suitable for hosting and then organises matches.

She said: “We match dogs with hosts – there’s no point putting a dog who loves cuddling on the couch with someone who doesn’t want dogs on their furniture.

“So we speak to the owners and the matches and build a picture of what they want and then tailor the matches accordingly.

“We’re also on hand 24 hours a day for our hosts if any issues arise or if they have any concerns.

“Barking Mad was launched 16 years ago and I’ve been doing it for 13.

“I was a purchasing manager at a shipping company and I was off on maternity leave when the firm was taken over.

“I was offered redundancy and I wanted to work with dogs so it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

“I love dogs anyway – I have eight of my own!

“But I love my job and it gave me time to bring up my son Cameron (13) too.”

Jakki delivers and picks up each dog from their host, as well as supplying all of the dog food, bedding, treats and medication they need during their stay.

She added: “The hosts don’t pay for a thing – all we ask is they look after the dogs as if they were their own.

“It’s a fantastic alternative to kennels. We had one family who hadn’t been on holiday for five years because they couldn’t put their dog into kennels.

“We offer them the peace of mind that their dog is having a wee holiday too.”

Jakki currently has 40 hosts who look after around 350 dogs every year.

And Sandra is one of her many happy hostesses.

Sandra added: “It’s amazing how quickly the dogs settle in and enjoy their home away from home.

“The only problem is I fall in love with them all!”

For more information contact Jackki on 01236 453453 or email jakki.gunn@barkingmad.uk.com.