Well that was a little bit awesome! On Sunday 23rd April 2017, myself and my lovely friend Debbie from Redhound for Dogs hosted our first Happy Hound Day at the local Cricket pavilion in Fernhurst, West Sussex. I think we are still both mentally stunned by the whole day.
We came up with the idea towards the end of last year when I held an open day for Redhound in my kitchen. Debbie has had open days at her barn in Kent and we noticed a few people mentioning they'd love to go but it was too far. We both fully expected to sit around chatting, drinking tea and eating biscuits while a couple of people popped in. Well, we obviously don't know anything! The day didn't stop & I think at one point there were 8 hounds and about 12 people crammed into my kitchen - we were flabbergasted.
Afterwards, we agreed we should do it again but at a bigger venue, and maybe invite a couple of our favourite companies along too. We wanted to create something a little different, with high end, luxury brands and maybe a little goody bag for people arriving. And so the Happy Hound Day idea was born.
In our heads, we thought, if we can get 80 people, that would be amazing. Any more than that is a bonus.
Setup started at around 8.30am, if I'm being honest, I'm not sure we were very organised! Our measurements were a little out so myself, Debbie and Julia from Gazehound Vintage pitched up outside, thankfully the weather was kind to us! Poor Natalie from the Lounging Hound arrived and I must admit, I stared blankly for a moment before realising that her stall would have to be outside too. I can't believe I used to be a Personal Assistant.
Out came chairs and tables for people to be able to watch the world go by, up went the stalls, it was starting to look great!
11.00am came and people started to arrive. I had thought I'd do mini shoots at set times, well, what with greeting people and handing out goody bags, that was never going to happen. It didn't matter, it was amazing meeting people and their hounds as they arrived, especially as quite a few I knew through social media but had never met (you may have heard me squeal 'Dormouse' at one point when I was told that my favourite Instagram puppy had arrived).
The rest, is a wonderful, hound filled blur. I didn't eat and hardly drank the entire day. I remember smiling from ear to ear, talking a lot, getting people's names wrong a lot (I blame dehydration). I got to say Hi to a fair few of my clients, some who travelled quite a distance to be there.
Towards the end of the day, we handed out plates of high quality dog treats on paper plates & from silver platers. Watching the dogs faces as they were allowed to eat from plates was hilarious. There was only one hound with bad table manners, and it just happened to be mine.
The atmosphere was relaxed, the weather was just right, people sat out on blankets and made a full day of it, it was perfect. Remember when I said if we had a turnout of 80, we'd be happy? Based on online registration/social media/word of mouth, we think the number was closer to around 200 people and countless hounds. I'm still in shock.
We had decided to try and raise funds for Celia Cross Greyhound Trust, a charity close to Debbie's heart as this is where she got her gorgeous girl Frankie from. We reached out to a few companies having no idea how generous they would be in their contributions. We are so grateful to Dogs & Horses, Silver Peacock, Doggy Boho, Slumbering Hound, The Innocent Hound, The Whippet Company, as well as our stall holders and individuals, who's prizes helped raise £570.00 alongside contributions of sales from Debbie and I.
I don't think I have ever been to a dog fun day with goody bags so we thought it would be a lovely idea and help it stand out in people's memory. We really wanted everyone to have a 'Happy Hound Day'. Again, we were so impressed by the generosity! Thank you so much to The Innocent Hound for our Happy Hound Day Sausages as well as Fish 4 Dogs, Lily's Kitchen and Beco for helping us make a delicious and impressive goody bag.
Hector and the Fox - what can I say. When we were looking at catering, we had no idea that you had to pay a catering company to come to the event. They decided to take the risk and come without a booking fee, and with a seriously elegant menu to boot. Friendly, accommodating and fantastic at what they do, I can't recommend them highly enough. I managed to have a piece of their ginger cake before the event and it was delicious; I have been told that the wraps were pretty darn good too, although they sold out before I could try!
Charley Chau were an obvious choice as we both admire the company and the lovely ladies behind it, their snuggle beds have been on my 'recommended' list for years. We didn't hold out much hope though as they are all the way up in Manchester so we were super excited when they agreed to come to our little event. Even though their hound Anna was very poorly the day before, Jenny drove all the way down from Manchester at 4am on the day and yet still managed to be cheerful!
When we were looking at stalls, we knew we would like to invite the lovely Julia Jepps from Vintage Gazehound along, she has a gorgeous eye for vintage homeware and we could pick her brains as she has put on events a fair few times.
From there, something happened and the Hound Day just kept growing! We wanted to invite the creme de la creme of dog related products for people who, like us, want the best for their pets.
Both Debbie and I had done some social media promotions with Dotty Dog Art, and Kathy had produced a superb portrait of Debbie's whippet boy Bruno in a jumper, very fitting for Debbie's dog attire brand! We were very happy to have a talented artist on board too.
Next on the invite list was The Lounging Hound and their ingenious sofa toppers and gorgeous wool throws. I had worked with Natalie a month or so previously on a product shoot and I feel like her company aligns with my own on wanting to do the very best for our customers, and her products are such high quality.
The day wouldn't have been the success it was if it wasn't for YOU! Yes you who attended, or if you couldn't attend, you spread the word & talked about it. To our fabulous clients, and the ones we hope to meet in the future, I think I can speak for Debbie when I say we feel so lucky to be in a job where we get to meet the nicest, kindest people. I can't forget to say thank-you to my Husband for hound sitting on the day and all his support.
I couldn't write off this post without mentioning Debbie's beloved boy Bruno. Debbie lost her sweet, gentle and oh so cheeky boy the week before the event. I write this with a fair few tears in my eyes; if you ever met him you will know that he was a special hound with a heart of gold and a nose pemanently seeking out a treat bag, right up to the very last minute. Bruno was Debbie's muse, the reason Redhound started and I can't help draw comparisons between Bruno and my boy Scout for that reason. He will leave a big hole for a lot of people, but he will never be forgotton. I feel privelidge to have spent time with him.