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Becky Baker, CEO, shares the story of how she created K9 Nation.
What prompted you to start K9 Nation?
When I first got my dog, Buddy, I lived alone and I’d never had responsibility for my own dog before. I’d done lots of research but I was working full time and I found it really tough. I called it the ‘post-puppy blues’ because I got a dog and I thought it was going to be amazing, but the truth is I was exhausted and it was much harder than I’d anticipated. I felt like I was a bad owner and was worried that I’d made a mistake. I had all these questions and needed so much information about local services such as a day care and a groomer and I didn’t know that many walks in the area.
I was searching for all this information and I couldn’t find one place where I could get it. There was nowhere I could talk to other people who felt the same way I did. I wanted to create that supportive network for dog owners to make dog ownership as easy as possible. I don’t want people to give up when it inevitably gets tough sometimes, especially at the moment with lots of people getting puppies in lockdown. The aim of K9 Nation is to help reduce those problems, even the small things like helping someone find another dog owner to walk with when it gets dark in winter so they feel more safe, that’s where K9 Nation comes in.
What’s been the biggest challenge on your journey to set up K9 Nation?
I have a background in tech as a software product manager, so that side of things didn’t scare me too much. The idea of creating a website wasn’t too daunting for me. But in terms of challenges, my family have all previously worked in the public sector so I found I didn’t have that natural business acumen. I had to learn the entrepreneurial skills of how to set up your own business and all the various elements that come with that, as it was all alien to me. I recognised my skill gaps early on so luckily I reached out to get support as I didn’t want anything to get in the way of what I knew K9 Nation could become.
What breed is Buddy?
How old is he?
I got him when he was 8 weeks old and it’s his 5th birthday in September.
What made you choose the name Buddy?
Our family dog was owned by my sister when we grew up and deep down I was always a little envious as you could see where his loyalty was. I always wished I could have that bond with a dog. I wanted my own little pal, my own little Buddy, so that’s what inspired the name!
What is Buddy’s favourite food?
Buddy loves cheese. He’s very food-oriented.
What’s your favourite thing about having a dog?
The companionship. Sometimes he gives me this really distinctive look of love which makes me feel really connected to him. I know we have a special bond and no matter what else happens during the day he will always have a waggly tail to make me smile.
Does Buddy have any bad habits?
He’s a barker, which can be annoying, and he’s not the best at walking with the lead on. I think it’s important to recognise that I do not have a perfect dog and I’m not a shining example of a dog owner! I’ll be first in the queue to ask our canine experts for help, and I can’t wait to watch the app grow and become an invaluable source of help and information.
Does Buddy know any tricks?
Nothing too quirky, just the standard tricks: paw, high five, sit down, roll over, lie down. He’s no ‘Pudsey the Dog’, he won’t jump through hoops or anything like that!
What’s your favourite memory with Buddy?
The road trip we did as part of the #pawsontour2019 trip . It was tough at times but it was just me and him and I think we bonded even more. Over the two-month period we visited some beautiful places all over the country, some of the nicest places I’ve ever seen. The 10k coastal walk we did in Dartmouth was my favourite day of the whole trip. The sun was shining and we found a secret little cove. It was great to share that with him and a really special memory for me.