I launched a TripAdvisor for dogs - something new was needed for owners

‘The thought of leaving Charlie broke my heart. That was the inspiration behind my business’Name: Adele PemberAge: 29Income: £5,000 per yearOccupation: Starting up new business

I bought Charlie about six years ago – he’s a jack russell cross chihuahua and he was the runt of the litter. He was the size of my hand, and I immediately thought: “I have to have him.”

He’s really spoiled. My husband James and I will give up nights out to buy Charlie things we think he needs, as we can’t afford to do both.

We paid about £200 for all his injections. Since then he’s cost us thousands; one vet bill alone was £2,500 after he swallowed a bit of hard plastic that got stuck in his intestines.

Charlie suffers with separation anxiety and loneliness when left at home alone. I’ve had to plan my life around him, from socialising and date nights to going on holiday.

If I couldn’t bring the dog, I simply wouldn’t go because the thought of leaving Charlie broke my heart. That was the inspiration behind my business.

We were on a long walk in Bute Park near the centre of Cardiff in the summer of 2017 when, about an hour away from home, it poured with rain. Charlie and I nestled under a shop front while I Googled on my phone to find the nearest dog-friendly place. I couldn’t find anywhere, so Charlie and I ran home, both getting back looking like a pair of soggy doggies.

This is a copycat version of the kind made by Greenies.

I decided that something new needed to be available for owners, so I launched a blog called Dog Furiendly listing all the dog-friendly places nearby like pubs, cafes, restaurants and attractions. As time went on, James and I realised it needed to be a proper website, dogfuriendly.com, like a TripAdvisor for dogs.

So in June last year, I quit my job as a marketing and campaigns manager for a national charity to work on the business full time. I was earning £28,000 a year and I was the main breadwinner in the house. Now my salary is about £5,000, which barely covers our bills.

James, who is a senior graphic designer and now earns around £30,000, keeps us going financially, bless him. Our mortgage is £535 a month, and we have two cars that cost £300 a month.

We pay £35.99 for our internet, £143 council tax, £24 for my phone and Charlie costs about £20 a month. We also spend £325 on food and supplies, although we may dip into this for socialising.

If I’ve had a good month, I give myself £20-£30 pocket money to buy a new dress. But any extra cash is usually spent on a new lead/harness/bow tie or treat for Charlie.

Dogs do dream! Dogs and humans have the same type of slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) and during this REM stage dogs can dream. The twitching and paw movements that occur during their sleep are signs that your pet is dreaming

James recently had a £500 bonus from work, and we decided we didn’t want to spend it on bills, so we went on an all-inclusive holiday to Turkey, which cost us £400.

James is really strict with his finances – he has a spreadsheet and knows exactly what’s going out and takes care of everything bill related.

Before I left my job, we paid off our £3,000 debts from loans and overdrafts from our wedding and university, so we’ve managed to keep our heads above water but we’ve really had to strip back our spending.

That said, we’ve been saving up our Christmas and birthday money and we’ve decided to use the cash to buy another dog.

Minnie’s a mixed breed from Romania and has cost us £250 in adoption fees and she will cost a further £120 to spay. She was found in a back alley where they were chopping up dogs for meat and it broke my heart.

Our main income earner from the business is from dog-related events – such as tail-wagging pub crawls, themed “pawties” and “pawlidays”.

Although these events are not regular, it does help us throughout the year as they can each bring in between £400 and £1,000 profit.

Pitter patter. A large breed dog’s resting heart beats between 60 and 100 times per minute, and a small dog breed’s heart beats between 100-140. Comparatively, a resting human heart beats 60-100 times per minute.

The best part about these is that Charlie gets to enjoy all these events and socialise, and now Minnie will, too – these dogs have a better social life than we do!

We’re now looking at seed investment to grow the business and to provide more stability, in the hope that over the next three years, the £5,000 per year we’ve been getting by on will be a distant memory.