I have to admit I’ve been a bit un-inspired recently, I haven’t had much of a chance to write anything on this blog and haven’t really had much to say! I have been so busy with events and running K9 Trail Time (plus many of you may not know, but I have a near full time ‘day job’ too which keeps me more than busy) that I’ve not had the energy to sit down and write a blog, even a short one.
I have also been writing features for The Sled Dogger Magazine (for more information see their website)
so have had another focus for my writing in 2015. However, we recently celebrated 3 years of K9 Trail Time and although it passed pretty much unnoticed, I wanted to write a little bit about my journey over the last 3 years.
I started K9 Trail Time because I have a deep passion for the dog sports I sell the products for. The idea to start a retail business that incorporated my love for canicross, bikejor, dog scootering and general outdoor activity with your dog came to me when I was out on a run. I wanted to provide fellow dog sports enthusiasts with a ‘one-stop shop’ with all the best known brands of kit in one place. But the thing I really wanted to do, was to be able to say I have personally tried and tested everything I sell, so that if anyone had any questions, I could answer them honestly and hopefully without bias.
Of course this meant I was going to have to ‘sample’ everything I sold and to date, I don’t sell anything I haven’t used myself with my own dogs. I have decided that this is really important to be able to describe products to my customers and to help them decide what might suit them and their dogs the best. I get e-mails daily saying ‘I’m so confused by the choice’ and ‘I have been told to get this but I’m not sure it’s for me’. By trying and testing everything, I can at least give anyone my honest opinion on each item. I might not be able to tell you what will work best for you, but I can give you the tools to decide for yourself.
I know that some people have been disappointed that I can’t just say what will work for them and their dog but the truth is that everyone is so different and so individual, it would be arrogant of me to try to pretend I know better than anyone else about what is best suited to each dog and owner. I really enjoy the challenge of a ‘difficult shaped’ dog or finding the ‘perfect fit’ of a harness. It might sound a bit sad, but to me seeing a harness that fits well on a dog, and the freedom of movement that provides, is a really rewarding thing and that’s what I’m aiming for with every sale – happy, comfortable customers, both human and canine.
Over the past 3 years (and in the 3 years prior to setting up K9 Trail Time when I was studying harnesses, belts and what worked best for myself and others around me) I have built up a knowledge of the general style which suits certain breeds and can often just look at a dog and know what size and style of harness will suit. The problem with selling over the internet is that we have to go on measurements and weight guides, which even at the best of times is only helpful and not an exact science.
People also forget that dogs (as well as humans) change shape when they are taking part in these activities and so the harness that you started with might not be the one you end up with! It isn’t my aim to have people buying lots of harness and belts, which is why I’ll do my best to get it right the first time, but when a dog builds up muscle, fully matures or looses weight when exercising, there are always going to be changes needed to accommodate this.
Recently I have posted a number of videos to help people decide if the harness they have ordered actually fits. My YouTube channel can be found here:
I also post videos of some of our races, to show the equipment in action and to give an idea of what you can expect when racing in the UK. I have done this to try and help people who are new to the sports get a feel for what we do and see the fun we have!
The K9 Trail Time journey also took me in a different direction in 2014 with our first trade stand at Crufts. I never imagined being able to reach such a wide audience with our stock until I was approached and asked to apply for a space at another Kennel Club event. The opportunity to display our sports was too good to miss and although a challenge, I (along with a lot of voluntary help) managed to create an informative, as well as functional sales stand and got to speak to a much broader range of people than I had previously.
The last 3 years have been a steep learning curve and moreover, a lot of fun and I’d like to thank all of our customers for making K9 Trail Time such a success over the last few years. Here’s to the next 3!