Barks & Bunnies is a family business established in September 2013 and inspired by our oldest Golden Retriever, Albie.
You will see Albie pictured throughout the site with our other Golden Retriever Kizzie, you can also follow him on his adventures 'Albie's Adventures'. This is our story....
This is our story writen by Amy....
Back in 2010 my own Ulcerative Colitis flared which reminded both my husband and I just how short life can be. At the same time as my flare Leigh had to travel to India for a week with his work, meaning he would be overseas on our Wedding Anniversary (something he has never been allowed to forget!).
As a going away gift I gave him a copy of 'Marley and Me' to read on the plane, and what came next I wasn't really expecting!
Together we had always wanted a dog to join us, but I'd grown up with Golden Retrievers so I particularly missed having four furry paws and a wagging tail around the house. Once Leigh got home and had finished the book he was hooked and understanding how finite life can be we took the leap and decided it was the right time (is there ever actually a right time?).
Having a puppy in the house was wonderful! Albie has always been full of life but mostly full of mischief and we had endless fun playing & training him during those early puppy days. He was (and still is) definitely a daddy's boy dragging Leigh out into the garden to play games every night!
Shortly after Albie's first birthday some unplanned circumstances meant he was spending a lot of time at home on his own. We never wanted a dog that was left alone all day and we knew something had to change. Either we had to relocate as a family to save some money or I would leave my job with us staying where we were but with a big change in lifestyle.
Having experienced an incredible amount of life changing events we knew that life is not about the material things but about the people you love and the time you get to spend together. So together we decided we liked where we live, our family are close by and there are so many places we can go for nice dog walks that really we had everything we wanted.
It took six months to make all the necessary changes and for me to work my notice period but finally we were all happy. We had to stop luxuries like take-aways (!) and our gym memberships but we were happy and the stress of worrying about Albie was gone.
I spent every day with him, walking, training and playing (or just cuddling on the sofa!).
Unfortunately for Albie he was also soon to be diagnosed with colitis just like me which made him very sensitive to foods and also makes him a very fussy eater!
So with our lives getting back on track we had to make sure that everything we had decided to do worked - but training Albie with his sensitive stomach was becoming a real problem. There were very few treats we could buy that were truly natural so we started to bake our own - and he loved them!
In February 2013 we met Angela from Polite Paws, a force free dog training company based in Dorking and together we talked together about Ablie and his Colitis. A natural progression developed and Leigh and I made the decision to turn making dog treats into a bakery business. I saw this as a wonderful opportunity not only to encourage people to have fun with their dogs, which is why we named our biscuits after dog tricks, but to also raise awareness of force free training.
What next? well we decided to add to our family and we found our girl Kizzie.
We had always planned to get a second dog but one Sunday whilst out walking with Albie we bumped into some nice people with a very handsome thirteen week old Golden Retriever puppy and we took it as a sign, a piece of kismet if you will, that this was the time to add to our family. Kizzie joined our family a matter of months before the business launched and she was always delighted to give our treats a taste test under Albies supervision!
She has been a fabulous addition, she is besotted by me and follows me everywhere, you can always find us having cuddles on the sofa, or if Kizzie has her way out in the garden playing ball!
Well, they actually came into our lives first before our dogs! Back in the days when we were still young (!) and had just moved in together we got our first rescue bunnies Duke & Daisy. Sadly we lost them a while ago due to illness, Daisy first and Duke a few years later but we never wanted a lonely bunny and so as the pairs have come and gone we now have the fabulous Libby & Chuzzlewit.
We had a steep learning curve with rabbits as not long after bringing Duke home he developed a very troubled tummy (we seem to attract animals with tummy difficulties!).
Very quickly we had to pour over numerous books, websites and resources to learn how to help him and during the process we learnt how misunderstood rabbits can be.
We launched in 2013, as a team of two humans, myself (Amy) and my husband Leigh plus of course Albie, Kizzie, Libby & Chuzzlewit! We have quickly grown the business from selling handmade dog treats to also selling a wide variety of products that are things we would use ourselves. Leigh and I always look at the ethics of the companies we trade with and try to balance that out with the potential benefits for your dogs & rabbits.
In May 2016 we welcomed our daughter Erica into the world. What she has given our family can't be put into words and all our anipals are getting on wonderfully with her, and vice versa!
It has meant a few changes to Barks & Bunnies most notably that we have had to stop making our handmade dog treats, there just isn't time at the moment to bake them all. We hope to be able to bring them back eventually but with two dogs to walk, Erica to care for and our bunnies too it could be a quite some years before we are able to get back into the kitchen. But we do now stock a delicious range of dog treats which are as close to our own handmade treats as we could find, with all natural ingredients and made in their own family factory.