As a frenetically busy, London-based girl in my twenties with a full time job and a travel journalism hobby on the side, my long-held desire for a canine companion seemed depressingly idealistic. Last year, however, I started working in a boutique energy company that allows employees to bring their dogs to work (in an office with a garden that backs onto Green Park), and I realised that my dream of dog ownership was no longer wholly hopeless; indeed, two months later, Goji, a Pomeranian puppy, arrived in our home.
The remaining niggle for me was the travel issue. I spend at least seven weeks a year abroad, interspersed with numerous weekends away. Whilst many friends expressed eagerness to dogsit in our absence, I knew that this would not prove a long term solution – as adorable as Goji is, all of my peers have careers and demands on their time, and a dog is an imposition, however cute.
I was reluctant to send Goji to boarding kennels, which was one option I considered. I wanted to be certain that he was having a lovely time whilst I was having a fabulous holiday. Whilst discussing my travel quandary with a friend with two cockapoos and a hectic travel schedule, I was directed towards House of Mutt. My friend told me that their service was impeccable, and that she would recommend it unreservedly. So it was that I booked Goji’s first stay at House of Mutt whilst my husband and I headed off to New York for a week for his 30thbirthday celebrations.
House of Mutt styles itself as “canine club in the country”, that is, the antithesis of a boarding kennel. Four-legged guests live inside the the Old Rectory, which sits inside 12 acres of lush meadowland on the Duke of Grafton’s Suffolk estate, or Merton Hall, which is the Merton Estate; Fido will not be slumming it. The land contains plenty of variety: fully fenced paddocks and woodlands, stable yards and rivers – ideal roaming ground for adventurous hounds. The houses contain an abundance of sofas, beds and cushions for dogs to flop on after a busy day of exercise and entertainment. In addition, special retrieve training, hide and seek sessions and dog agility is included to suit each dog’s individual needs. Doggy paradise, in a nutshell!
One of the best features of House of Mutt, from my perspective, is the elective taxi service. A member of the House of Mutt team comes to London on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to collect and drop off their canine charges (transportation to and from places outside the capital, as well as abroad can also be arranged on request). I organised the pick up with the friendly and efficient Ella Flett, and Peter arrived within the arranged hour. Goji was ready to go, with his harness, lead and food in a Tupperware box (House of Mutt will feed each dog the food they are used to, or alternatively will provide their own muesli mix). This was not his first time away from home, but it was, doubtless, quite a shock for the little chap to be carted off with an unknown man all the way to Suffolk. It was reassuring, therefore, to receive a text from Sarah Mountford (proprietor of the Old Rectory), confirming that Goji had arrived safely and was settling in well.
Daily updates, via both text message and Facebook (including videos and photos), were a great way of checking in with Goji whilst we were in America. It was a delight to see Goji’s interactions with the other dogs, and he certainly seemed to thriving on the country air and long woodland walks. House of Mutt limits the number of resident hounds to ten at a time, so every dog is guaranteed plenty of attention, but at the same time, canine camaraderie.
Goji was brought home punctually by Peter, along with a photo collage and report card detailing his exploits over the week, which was a charming touch. We were told about his general behavior (pleasingly, “very obedient” and “endlessly playful”), his buddies (Charlie the Spaniel puppy and Goji were thick as thieves, apparently), and his bedfellow (an elderly Springer Spaniel named Lucy). For an additional fee, a more enduring memento of the stay is available: owners can commission artist in resident at the National Stud in Newmarket, Chris Winch, to paint their furry four legged friends.
A further perk: House of Mutt provides a grooming service, and for a nominal fee, your dog will return freshly washed and blow-dried. We opted for this service, and Goji looked brilliantly bouffant on his return – no trace of mud whatsoever despite his rural sojourn.
My husband and I were immensely impressed by House of Mutt – and Goji had clearly had a great time. We have already booked him in for a two week stay at the end of November. My only concern is that he will prefer House of Mutt to home, and refuse to come back!
For all information, and for booking, please visit:
House of MuttThe Old RectoryFakenham MagmaThetford IP24 2QX
Telephone 01359 268 710
The daily rate is £39.50 (ex. VAT). Grooming, veterinary husbandry, training and portraits are bespoke services, please contact House of Mutt to discuss costs.
Puppy portraiture: artist Chris Winch at work
Goji's glowing report card