Dog lovers are being encouraged to head for the Bay of Colwyn by local businesses, with a new pet-friendly scheme.
The Green Paw Print project will highlight all the shops, pubs, restaurants and other premises in the area that welcome pooches.
Danny Borrill, who runs Alternadogs grooming salon on Greenfield Road, Colwyn Bay, with his wife Kat, is leading the scheme, which has also won the backing for business enterprise Colwyn BID.
BID, run by the business communities in Colwyn Bay, Rhos-on-Sea, Old Colwyn and Mochdre, believes it will bring in more pet-loving shoppers and visitors.
Under Green Paw Print project businesses will sport a sticker on their door or window for visitors to see, and will also be listed on the Alternadogs website so dog owners can plan their visit in advance.
Danny, who is originally from Llandudno Junction, also wants to see a dog walking trail around the area, highlighting places where pooches can be exercised.
Danny, who previously fought-off life-threatening sepsis and battled medical conditions affecting his immune system, moved back to North Wales with Kat to open their creative dog grooming salon, which also provides accessories, food and even pooch perfumes and aftershaves.
They also hand out free dog poo bags to ensure that owners act responsibly and clear up after their pets.
The couple also practise their skills on their own pooches – poodle Betty, cockapoo Jeff, chihuahuas Pip and Holly plus 14-month-old pups Brutus and Pepper.
The couple ran a salon in Kat’s hometown of St Helens, which they started after Danny was made redundant, with loyal customers now making the 90-minute car journey with their pets across the border in order to retain their services.
Danny, 37, said: “We opened the new salon in Colwyn Bay on March 12 and we’ve had a really busy start.
“We have a lot of people coming from St Helens, Manchester and Widnes, particularly on Sundays.
“They come and have a day out or stay here for the weekend. We’re bringing a bit of tourism to the area which is why I came up with the idea.
“We want people to spend their money in the area when they come. However, when you get here there is nothing to tell you it’s dog friendly place. People simply don’t know.
“I asked a few businesses if they allowed dogs in and they said yes of course,so we need to inform people visiting the area so they can book in advance and plan ahead.
“When people come here they want to buy a gift to take back or eat locally sourced foods. By showing the Green Paw Print and having a list of dog-friendly businesses on the website they know where they can go.
“The aim is to bring the business community together to drive traffic here. Colwyn BID has been very supportive of the idea.
“If businesses want to get involved and help that would be great.”
Anna Openshaw, project manager at Colwyn BID, said: “I think Danny’s proposed scheme is a really good idea that would be of benefit to local businesses.
“The idea is simple but effective and if it can help drive more visitors and particularly dog owners to the area and get them spending money then that can only be a positive thing.
“We will provide Danny with all the support he needs to get the project off the ground.
“It’s great that a new company arriving in the Bay is so keen to get involved with the business community and is also being proactive.
“Alternadogs is a welcome addition to the area and I’m sure the business will be a huge success.”
Former Ysgol Aberconwy student Danny added that the new dog grooming salon has been “well received” by people in the area, as well as continuing to be backed by a loyal customer base back in the North West of England.
He and Kat first launched their business in May 2017, when Danny was unemployed after the company he worked for selling marine fish and coral folded, and Kat had become fed up working as a school cook.
Danny, who has a son and daughter from a previous relationship as well as two step daughters, said: “We both thought there has got to be a better life out there for us. We really wanted a joint venture and to run our own business.
“We’re both dog lovers so our idea was born. We decided to open a shop in St Helens and we were overwhelmed by the response.
“We were going back and forth to North Wales a lot to see my parents and Kat said one day why don’t we move here, so we did.
“It’s gone really well so far. We’ve got our hands full but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The dogs can come to work with us too so everything works nicely. We go for a walk to the beach in the morning and then take them to work. It works brilliantly.”
Running a successful business back in the region where he grew up is a far cry from the situation Danny found himself in back in 2016 when he lost his job and then shortly after fell seriously ill.
He explained: “It was about two years ago when I woke up shivering this one morning and then later on in the day came out in weird lumps all over my body.
“I was shaking uncontrollably and was really hot. I was admitted to A&E and they couldn’t find out what was wrong with me.
“I was put on antibiotics and painkillers but my body was slowly shutting down due to sepsis. No one could understand what was causing it.
“But then one day another consultant was on the ward and recognised my lumps. He said it was only the second time he’d ever seen them.
“It turned out I had Lofgren syndrome (a form of Sarcoïdosis that affects the lymph nodes) and Sweet’s syndrome (a skin disease brought on by the sudden onset of fever), and it was shutting my immune system down.
“I was put on steroids and slowly got better. It took about a year in the end to recover.
“They don’t know what causes it. It was a scary time, more for my family than anyone else as they could see what it was doing to me.
“It turned out I also had fibromyalgia, a condition which causes pain all over the body, which I’d been undergoing tests for beforehand.
“It took me a year to recover in the end thanks to Kat who supported me back to health.”
For more details on Alternadogs visit alternadogs.co.uk or call 01492 467942