Book Review: London's No.1 Dog-Walking Agency By Kate MacDougall

I read the whole thing in just a few days. I wouldn't say it is the kind of book that I simply couldn't put down, it was more of a friendly companion that I kept wanting to pick up.

I stumbled across this book in my local library and didn't think twice about signing it out and immediately heading straight home to read it, with a detour to the newsagents on the way for several bars of chocolate. From the blurb it sounded like it would be a gloriously self-indulgent read, and so chocolate was a must.


I always stuff my face with chocolate when getting lost in books. It's my essential (and not-so-secret-anymore) naughty pleasure... derived, I suspect, from fond memories of feasting on pick n' mix sweets from Woolworths in Camden Town as a child, whilst reading a new Malory Towers book bought from Waterstones across the road. I'm showing my age, neither of those shops exist there anymore.


I find it difficult to choose books, because there are far too many to choose from. But this one caught my attention because, like Kate, I also started my own dog business in London, and I have been meaning to write my own memoir for years. Kate MacDougal clearly beat me to it and I was peeved.


The book had to be read! Not because I'm a sucker for illustrated book covers and I adored the pretty book jacket (which I did), or because I'll read anything about dogs (which I will), but because I had to find out how she wrote her story. How did she start it? What did she include? How does she talk about her clients? And how does she bring her story to a close? This was not just an enjoyable read - it was research.


Most books I read end up being research because I desperately want to write a book of my own and I am fascinated to see how other people do it. I am often surprised by how simple they make it look, and I'll finish a book and think - Oh, well that doesn't seem so complicated! If only it were true. Kate has crafted a beautiful story out of her memories. I'm a little bit jealous.


I don't want to give too much away, so don't worry, there will be no spoilers in this post, just in case you want to read the book yourself, which, if you are a dog lover, I think you should, you'll like it. It is a delightful memoir that takes us along with Kate on her journey from haphazardly starting her dog walking business, much to her mother's distress;"She wrote me a letter on blue Basildon Bond, her concerns laid out in numerical order. Number one said,'This is a GHASTLY mistake.'"... to growing into her newfound career and witnessing its success.


I read the whole thing in just a few days. I wouldn't say it is the kind of book that I simply couldn't put down, it was more of a friendly companion that I kept wanting to pick up. I found myself reaching for it first thing in the morning after cleaning the sleep from my eyes, then again mid-morning when my eyes needed a break from the laptop, then again during lunch when my eyes needed to be entertained while I munched on my sandwich... and so on.


The book is so easy to read, and it's very easy to connect with Kate as she tells her story. I don't know whether this was because I felt like I was reading about myself? It is very difficult for me to be objective, because honestly, the similarity of some of the details in Kate's story and mine are just uncanny! A good storyteller knows how to immerse you in the experience though, whether it is fiction or memoir. I do believe that anyone who loves dogs will enjoy reading this book.


It is funny and heartwarming. There are some really feel-good moments. The characters are all as colourful and quirky as you would expect crazy dog people to be. You might even come away from reading the book wanting to start your own dog walking business. If you don't yet own your own dog, this book will definitely bring you one step closer to dog ownership.


Kate describes the relationships in the stories she tells about her characters in such a way that highlights how friendships between dogs and humans, and also between dogs and dogs are formed, and how touching and powerful they can be. Yes, I did cry on a few occasions throughout the book. I am an emotional sop-pot, and I love reading anything that tugs on the heart-strings.


If you are looking for a light, dog-centric read, with sprinkles of humour and plenty of heartwarming personal growth, then this is definitely the book for you! Kate's story is very inspirational for anyone who has ever thought about quitting their boring job to follow a random whim (me, many times over), or anyone who is determined to make a success of an absurd situation they have put themselves in (also me, many times over).


Find out more about the book HERE. If you decide to purchase it, I'll get a tiny bit of revenue, no extra cost to you, which I am very grateful for, so thanks! Please share my post if you enjoyed reading it, and subscribe to my blog for updates.