Wild and Free Dog Meadows is a project born from a deep passion and love for dogs, their wellbeing and welfare and that of their guardians by Canine Behaviour Counsellor Natalie Finch.
After 12 years of helping dogs and their Guardians, by teaching kind methods to rehabilitate and overcome behavioural problems, build better communication, trust, understanding and create harmonious relationships between them, Natalie became acutely aware of the dire need of having a safe space to work, train and be with their dogs, particularly when the big wide world can be problematic and every daily walks fraught with stress and fear for both dog(s) and their Guardians.
As a Dog Guardian of 17 years to 9 Siberian Huskies, both from Pup and Rescue, Natalie deeply empathised with the people she was working with, having embarked on her own personal challenging journey of discovery, not just for her beloved dogs but also herself. She realised that the safe stress-free environment she created for her dogs was something widely needed, creating a bigger safe learning environment was paramount.
After years of searching, she found the perfect location for the meadows. It was not to be the most straightforward of journeys from idea, to development and opening, but one of many, many obstacles with steep learning curves.
When writing her business plan in May 2016 she wrote this mission statement to summarise her vision:
We are taking the stress out of owning a difficult dog, by enlightening Dog Guardians with greater understanding and practical skills whilst creating safe learning environment that puts the fun back into owning a challenging dog.
After a successful soft launch of phase 1 in March 2017, it was systems go for the big launch the following May, whilst this was hugely successful – Natalie had created a safe space, however, it was one of more isolation, and anyone with a dog that has challenges knows, your life with your dog tends to be governed by avoiding others or situations at all costs, it was also not the completed vision Natalie had set out to do.
The importance of creating a space to learn, play and importantly develop your dog’s social skills alongside safety was desperately needed. With changes to the Dangerous Dog Act 2015, public spaces being heavily populated and a need for Dog Guardians to have more opportunities to create safe and frequent socialisation opportunities, Natalie knew she had to complete her vision.
In January 2018 Natalie started developing Wild and Free Dog Meadows, hampered by the wettest winter and snowiest March in years. After 5 months of hard work from her and her team, Wild and Free Dog Meadows now boasts a flexible learning space, full of environmental enrichment that suits Dog Guardians that wish to remain isolated from others as well as a Community & environment that supports independent safe/ gentle socialisation, for people that wish to work on their dog’s behaviour.