It´s not a tall shaggy dog story to say that Stephanie Andrews has had some strange experiences with our canine friends. When you have trained as a veterinary nurse and worked in the industry for a while it is fair to say it is an occupational hazard that one or two of these characters are going to wake up with a bad hair day and get the urge to take their frustration out on the nearest person. After all none of us actually enjoys going to see the doctor and the same can be said of our pets. In fact it is probably worse for pets because, even though they suffer from similar ailments as ourselves, they have no way of describing the pain, where it is or any other symptoms that the doctor needs to know. It is no wonder then that they get a bit ratty when a human starts prodding and poking and sticking them with needles. Being scratched, bitten, mauled and molested by a patient is par for the course for a vet.
Her better half, Steve Tomblin, has lived through the trials and tribulations with her when they lived in England. A part of the services she used to offer was dog, and cat, boarding where anyone going on holiday could leave their pets in her care for the duration of their vacation. There were times when she had up to thirteen dogs in her home all at the same time. Now, you would think that so many animals would create a territorial problem but not once were there any disputes among her guests.
“What I found was that because the dogs were on neutral territory there was never a problem, whether they were all in the house together or if I took them all out for a walk.”
It was when she was training to be a veterinary nurse in London that she met Steve who at the time was studying at Bristol university. He was rooming with her brother when she went for a week long visit and somehow she managed to see past his love of alternative music, his shoulder-length dyed red hair and his eclectic studentified dress sense into his keen mind and eventually they started dating. He was studying electronic engineering for four years and already knew how to build a computer from the ground up. Upon graduating he worked for about three years with British Aerospace repairing computers, problem solving and occasionally doing a bit of programming, which he didn’t enjoy as much, that part of the industry not challenging enough for his analytical mind.
The impetus to move to Tenerife first arose when Steph caught meningitis from working too many hours, seven days a week in a veterinary surgery that some days had her on call for twenty-four hours. Being a vet can be a very taxing profession combined with a lot of stress and the job was starting to take its toll, and for health reasons she had to leave a post she enjoyed. After leaving the surgery she set up her grooming, boarding and cat care business but now that the germ of an idea had been planted to live abroad her mind was set on the change. For Steve it was a yearning for more of a challenge than what he was getting from his current job and a need for a change of pace. He was all for the idea.
Having visited here several times before they both decided it was the place they would most prefer to live and it was on one of their breaks here that they saw an apartment they liked, phoned home to sort out some funds for a deposit and bought it.
In January 2017 they were fully packed, on a plane, in Los Cristianos, unpacked and settled down into a new way of life in the blink of an eye. For them it was that simple, with no looking back and no regrets. After a short holiday period to settle in both of them continued with their professions – Steve as a mobile computer technician, working for individuals as well as companies and Steph starting her company, Waggytails, still concentrating on the boarding aspect of her job but also providing a service for pet grooming, walking and obedience training.
“Sometimes I get owners bringing their dogs to me who have been ruling the house for years, have been so mollycoddled that they just don´t know how to control them,” Steph explains. “One of the simplest things and one of the first that I have to do is assert my authority over the dogs. Teaching them to sit is the first step. Before it eats, before it drinks, when I want it to. Once we get to that stage the dog starts to realise who´s boss and is easier to train from there on in.”
Steve is also something of an animal person himself, off-times helping out with the animals under Steph´s care as well as looking after their cat and two dogs. “I´m not quite as mad as Steph but she´s convinced me to constantly have a big bag of dog food in the car for when we go for a drive around the island. Whenever she spots a stray dog it´s a quick pull over to the side of the road, a quick feed and then we´re off again until we spot the next one,” Steve smiles.
“Sometimes it seems we spend more time looking out for strays than admiring the scenery.”
It is amazing how animals have such distinct characters, cats as well as dogs. They both remember the cat they used to have in England that had a deformed paw that looked like a boxing glove. Whenever guests came around it was as if it became embarrassed and would always hide that particular paw away from any curious eyes. Steve and Steph are an ever-growing group of ex-pats who are emigrating abroad. As a youngster Steph lived briefly in Switzerland and never felt completely settled in England, while Steve just liked the idea of living in sunnier climes and enjoying the greater sense of freedom that his has found here. Both of them foresee a considerable future here and consider themselves fortunate to be living on an island with unarguably the best and most moderate temperature in the world. It is nigh impossible to disagree with that statement.