Petsitting ‘forerunners’ receive Small Business award from real-life Dragon

Nina Cole of Nina's Nannies for Pets with Theo Paphitis
Nina Cole of Nina's Nannies for Pets with Theo Paphitis

A Hemel Hempstead-based couple whose business could have been the forerunner in the petsitting industry have received a prestigious award.

Nina’s Nannies for Pets – run by husband and wife Doug and Nina Cole – received the Small Business Sunday ‘SBS’ Award from real-life Dragon and business guru Theo Paphitis, a fellow animal lover who has even been offered mates rates by the couple.

Managing Director Nina said she was absolutely over the moon to receive the award, describing it as a fitting tribute to the pair’s hard work and dedication since starting the company way back in 1998.

The idea for the innovative business came about when Doug, now 61, was diagnosed with MS aged just 42, and Nina suffered a brain haemorrhage at around the same time.

They decided there and then to act on their mutual love of animals and set up Nina’s Nannies for Pets – announcing the launch of the new business in the Gazette’s sister paper the Herald Express.

Nina, 59, said: “We have worked so hard to build up our business – we started in 1998 when petsitting was unheard of. We like to think we are the forerunners of the industry.

“We are chuffed to bits about the SBS Award – these are exciting times for us.

“We are so passionate about animal welfare – sometimes to the detriment of our own company.”

The duo, who now live in Eaton Bray but still run their business in the Hemel Hempstead area, say their company is constantly expanding and they are in desperate need of more to people to join their self-employed team of live-in sitters.

Nina added: “Retired or semi-retired people make ideal live-in pet sitters, since the work is very much a part-time, ad hoc position.

“It enables people to enjoy the pleasure of a pet without the expense and responsibility and it also offers reduced utility bills and heating!”

Nina and Doug wish to promote pet adoption over buying from pedigree breeders, because of the number of healthy animals which are put to sleep due to overcrowding in rescue centres.

For this reason they are offering special discounts on their services to those who have rehomed their pets.

For more about becoming a petsitter or to find out about the services offered by the company, visit