We are, however, happy for them to take place in gardens that are large enough to facilitate safe social distancing.
Like a lot of dog walkers, the safety of our charges is always at the forefront of our minds, so even though it's a legal requirement for a dog to have its own tag with name, address and owner contact details on, we always like every dog in our care to wear one of our own tags with our company name and number on. It's an extra bit of reassurance for our clients that in the unlikely event that their dog decides to hot-foot it away during the course of a walk, that we're easily contactable when some kind individual further up the river bank manages to collar them.
Last year we spent £75 on stainless steel, custom-engraved tags - that's a total of 30 tags at £2.50 each. No small sum. By the end of the year, we had a scant half dozen tags left, the other 24 having been ripped off during some of the more enthusiastic bouts of play fighting or dislodged from the collars of on-lead dogs when lunging at squirrels. We never recovered any of them, unfortunately.
Even if at this point we'd opted for an alternative and more secure method of attaching the tags, we still had only 6 out of 30 left and were £60 out of pocket (ouch!), so the conclusion was that a complete rethink of the whole approach was definitely necessary. With a background as a graphic designer, I decided to employ my creative skills and set about having a go at making my own tags. How hard could it be? They didn't, after all, have to made of metal. Any material strong enough to weather both the weather and the tussles and friendly frays typically seen on a group walk would do the trick.
The guide recommended using Shrinky Dinks, which are a proprietary make of printable, shrink plastic. Older readers may remember colour-in Shrinky Dinks being given free with Shreddies during the 80s (Shreddies/Shrinky Dinks). At the time of sourcing, however, this brand of product wasn't available in the UK and although eBay had a few international sellers offering to ship to England, I opted for an unbranded product from China available from Amazon (Link to Shrink Plastic Sheets). I can't comment on the quality of Shrinky Dinks but I can say that my generic alternative didn't disappoint, with both the printing and the shrinking processes completing without issue.
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