Wednesday, 21 March 2012


MARY Bull owns what can best be described as a haven for dogs and cats at Woodlands Farm Kennels and Cattery on the A35 near Askerswell. As well as looking after well-loved pets while their owners are away, Mary also takes in not so fortunate strays and nurses them back to health before re-homing them with more suitable owners. She also offers a grooming service for all your doggie-needs. This week she tells us about the kennels, shares some advice on grooming and exercising dogs and gives us the story behind the Woodlands Farm Strays Charity. For further information visit:

HOW did you come to be running a kennels in Dorset?
I’ve always been mad about animals in general. Many years ago I did an apprenticeship in dog grooming and after that set up my own grooming business in Kent, where I originally come from. When my husband and I decided we wanted to run a kennels of our own this was the furthest we could get from Kent while still being able to travel to and fro easily. We had been to Dorset many times on holiday and thought how nice it would be to spend all our time on the beach - which of course never happens once you live here because you find yourself with so much else to do.

WHAT services do you offer here at Woodlands Farm?
Primarily we are a Boarding Kennel and Cattery so we care for peoples pets when they are on holiday, in hospital or just out for the day and can’t take the dog. We also do dog grooming and we take in local area strays and re-home the ones that aren’t reclaimed.

WHAT'S been the most unusual request you’ve had about grooming?
The most unusual “Dog-Do” was when I once was asked to do the front half of a poodle in the traditional lion-trim, and the back half a Dutch-trim, which is very different.  I knew it was going to look ridiculous so I had to refuse. I like the dogs I do to look like the breed they’re supposed to be but often I have to compromise that with what’s practical for the owner. I don’t like to do hair too short. Dogs’ hair is important for giving insulation from the cold in the winter and protection from the sun in the summer. Dogs can get sunburn.

ARE there any myths surrounding dog grooming?
It is a bit of a myth to say you should never bath a dog. Yes, it does take the grease out of the coat, but if you’re grooming the coat thoroughly as well then you’ll encourage the oil from the skin to travel down the length of the coat anyway and keep it healthy. Don’t over do it, but if your dogs rolled in something nasty then it’s nicer to wash it out but do use a proper dog shampoo. 

TELL us more about what you do for the strays?
We’ve set up The Woodlands Farm Strays Charity to look after the strays and see to their medical costs. One stray we have at the moment is a Border Collie called Molly and she has knee problems. She’s having x-rays this week to find out the extent of the problem but we don’t yet know what ongoing treatment she’s going to need. It could be surgery, which will be a long and expensive process. Then we’ll be looking to re-home her and we’ll need someone who is prepared to take it very gently with her exercise. Collies are innately very active dogs but we wouldn’t want to risk any more damage to her knees.

WHAT'S the most heart-warming story regarding a stray?
Some people might remember the story of Ginger, who was observed on CCTV at some offices in Weymouth being dumped by his owner on a grass verge. The car is seen zooming off and the poor dog tries to follow. Some bystanders took the dog to a vet because she was limping and then she came to us. The CCTV footage hit the headlines in some of the national papers and she now has a home in Southampton. The gentleman owner says she’s the best thing that ever happened to him.

WHAT is your favourite dog walk?
I like to balance road exercise with soft surface exercise. Dogs who board here have about seven acres of grounds to excercise on and run free and it uses a certain set of muscles in the dog. Total lead exercise on the road uses a completely different set off muscles and it’s also good for keeping the toenails trim.  So, when I walk then it’s on the country lanes around Askerswell and Loders.

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