My name is Michelle and I run Toms Tails and Trails. I grew up in rural South Africa, when I moved to the UK it had to be to the countryside rather than the city as nature and greenery is very important to me.
We moved into a house with three acres and with a dozen stables. To support the needs of my son Thomas, I converted one stable block into classrooms, setting up a small school for autistic and learning challenged children. The school was recognised as “good” by the Local Education Authority and Ofsted, and remained open until my son reached 18 years old.
Even as an adult, Thomas continued to need care and I decided to set up a business from home to be here for him, but what should I do for work?
Having two dogs of my own and living in the beautiful countryside of Kent surrounded by walks through fields and wooded areas the answer to my dilemma came quickly. Toms Tails and Trails was born and was initially focused on dog walking. Thomas loved the walking and although he was not in charge of the dogs, he still felt good about his “job”. The dogs loved having him around on walks too!
It was an easy decision to start the business as I love dogs. Coming to live in the UK has totally changed my relationship with dogs, as in South Africa I had been used to dogs being used more for work than being kept as pets. I ‘rescued’ my first dogs in the UK, by purchasing them from sellers knowing that they were likely to have medical needs and developmental challenges. All those years ago we didn’t know about puppy farms and unscrupulous breeders, and I made the same mistakes that I am sure many owners do, by buying a poorly pup in the mistaken belief that I was rescuing them from a terrible situation. My Lucy is 10 now and still suffers with ailments that make her appear older than her years.
A while later we decided to get a puppy that we could train as an assistance dog for my son. I did the research and found a breeder and had a trainer on standby to help. The training did not go terribly well as the puppy did not exhibit the right characteristics to become a service dog for Thomas, but we were already completely attached to Tramp, and he also became a beloved family pet. Tramp is now 7 years old.
Once the word spread about the business, people asked about boarding facilities; and having an open-plan house it was an obvious step forward for Toms Tails and Trails. We have now been operating for over eight years and have many loyal customers.
Our approach is very much home from home, and the visiting dogs very quickly become members of the extended family. We have watched them grow and develop, learn to socialise and make new friends.
In 2019 I was proud to receive my five-star premising rating from Sevenoaks District Council. I am licenced to accept 4 dogs to stay overnight, plus 4 dogs for day care. Due to the size of our property we are able to accommodate puppies as well as older dogs and those with minor medial challenges. The dogs are separated into walks and ‘zones’ within the house based on age and capability, so everyone gets the attention and care that they need.
If you have any questions or would like to further discuss booking your dog in to stay with us at Toms Tails and Trails, please contact me using the button below: