Secret life

“Dogs are always happy to see you”

Locum dispensing optician, Sarita Harrar, on the dog walking business she started during lockdown, Up Pup and Away

Rosedale Photography

My dog died on Valentine’s Day this year. Then lockdown happened. Because I am a locum dispensing optician, I had zero work. My one legal outing was to walk my friend’s dog. We were disinfecting the lead and then passing the pooch between each other in a socially distanced way. My friend was saying that I needed to start dog walking. I had never had the guts to do it before, but on the last day of May, I posted on Facebook that I was setting up a dog walking business.

We have been blessed with amazing weather over summer. Just being out and about and walking in the fresh air is the best thing about dog walking. One of the dogs is a little golden cockapoo called Oakley, who looks like a human in his face. I love him to bits. The first time I picked him up, I had this massive grin on my face as I was walking him. I was so happy to just have this pooch by my side. The sun was shining and things could not have been better. If it was a Mary Poppins video there would have been birds twittering around my head.

If it was a Mary Poppins video, there would have been birds twittering around my head


One of my good friends’ husband is a graphic designer. She messaged me saying that her husband would design a logo for me. It was my brother who came up with the name for the dog walking business, Up Pup and Away. When the leaflets came, all of my friends offered to post them on their roads and in the surrounding neighbourhood.

I also have an online health and wellness business. The products are vegan and cruelty-free. They are all about looking after your mind, gut and skin which really resonated with me.

Starting the dog walking business has given me excitement. It has made me realise how amazing the people around me are, with all the help that I have had. They have rallied around me and come together. It has been a community effort.

Dogs are always so happy to see you and they don’t hold grudges. You get to know what the dogs like and don’t like. I get the lowdown from their owners before the walk and treat them how I would treat my own dog.

I had my dog Maya from when she was a puppy and I didn’t realise how much it would break me when she went. She went how humans would want to go. She had eaten, she had a little bit of a play and then she went in her own bed.

The kids couldn’t understand why she had to die on Valentine’s Day. We know as adults that it can be any day, but they just couldn’t get it. In the end, I just had to say to them ‘She actually went on the best day. Valentine’s Day is a day of love.’

  • As told to Selina Powell.

Image credit: Rosedale Photography