A Hartlepool business that finds pet pooches a home as an alternative to kennels thanked her host families at a special get-together.
Tracy Johnston, who runs Barking Mad, organised the party for her host families at The Place in the Park, in Ward Jackson Park, as a ‘thank you’ for their dogged work over the last year.
For many of the hosts, it was the first time they met and a chance to share stories and strike up new friendships.
Tracy is looking for more people to take in dogs while their owners are away, and says for many of her hosts it helps tackle the growing problem of loneliness among the elderly.
Tracy, who lives in Hartlepool, said: “Quite a lot of hosts are people on their own or elderly. It gets them out and about meeting other people.
“It is also good company for them to have a dog in the house. We always match the right dogs with the right people.”
Around 20 of Tracy’s hosts from all over the area, plus friends and family, attended the event in the park.
Tracy said: “Everybody enjoyed it. They didn’t know each other but some are going to keep in touch and I will definitely do it again next year.”
One of Barking Mad’s hosts, retired Pamela Hodson, 60, from Guisborough, said: “I love it. For us, it’s like having a dog without the commitment and all the vets bills.
“We get exercise and company and meet new friends while out walking because if you have got a dog everybody talks to you.”
Pamela, married to Pete, 65, sends pictures and even videos of the dogs to the owners while they are away on holiday.
Susan Potter, 27, of Fairfield, Stockton, is another Barking Mad host.
She said: “I would definitely recommend it. It’s great to have the dogs’ company.”
Barking Mad cover all of the TS postcode and parts of Darlington.
To find out more about becoming a host call Tracy on (01429) 860846.