IF you go down to the woods today…the National Trust’s Hatfield Forest, you might just come across Dog Warden
It’s Simon’s job to walk the ancient forest which is home to a fascinating variety of native and exotic trees, some over 1,000 years old and chat to dog owners about why it’s important to keep their beloved pooches under safe supervision and help ensure the forest is a welcoming place for all.
“The Dog Warden role came about four months ago,” he explains. “It’s the first time that anyone has done this at Hatfield. I started walking my dogs here about 18 months ago and was not aware of needing a license if you are a commercial dog walker. It got me wondering how could licenses be enforced when many people in the forest are walking their dogs both for pleasure and commercially. I suggested it might be a good idea to have a role as a volunteer, someone who handles dogs like me who can meet and talk to the other dog walkers about this and other challenges about managing the forest.”
Simon from Great Canfield, an expert dog handler and commercial dog walker with his ‘Woofing Walks’ business is the perfect choice for the job. “On a daily basis I walk between 15 and 20 dogs each day, not just in Hatfield Forest but everywhere,”
And with his recognisable National Trust branded jacket and badge and ‘Dog Warden‘ emblazoned on his high-vis jacket you will spot him easily.
“I make sure people are aware about the livestock that freely roam the forest such as deer, cattle and sheep. We all know that dogs love chasing sheep so it’s vital to make people aware they need to close gates behind them. Another important issue is that anti-social dogs are kept on a lead around other dogs and people. Many people assume that everyone loves dogs, but some people don’t like them running up to them and can be frightened. My job is to keep everyone aware. It’s a constant awareness campaign. Hatfield Forest is a really special place and it’s an absolute pleasure to walk in so let’s make sure we can all enjoy it.”
Simon also advises of the best routes to walk in the forest and information on the Countryside Code. “It’s surprising how many people get lost or lose their dog in the forest, it can be quite disorientating,” he adds.
Having retired from the police service after 32 years, Simon set up his dog walking business ‘Woofing Walks’ 18 months ago and hasn’t looked back. It’s absolutely fabulous, I really enjoy it, even when it rains!”
For more information about the National Trust’s Hatfield Forest visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatfield-forest
For more information on Simon and his Woofing Walks business visit: www.Woofingwalks.com