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7 Sussex animals and their role in the community

PUBLISHED: 12:58 24 November 2015 | UPDATED: 11:26 01 December 2015

Dougal at The Coach and Horses

Dougal at The Coach and Horses


Sussex residents love their pets. Hazel Sillver interviews seven local animals about their life in our community

Ivy is a four-year-old whippet who lives at The Book Ferret bookshop in Arundel

“I’m a proper English whippet, but I don’t come from Yorkshire! I was born in Kent and came to live with my owner when I was eight weeks old. A marching band went past the shop on my first day at The Book Ferret, which I can only think was to announce my arrival.

“I love being snuggled up on my bed in the bookshop, because I can spend all day with Mum and my new pal Sylvia (another whippet) – lots of nice people come to see us.

“The Book Ferret sells new books on all kinds of subjects, but my favourite is Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark – it is the diary of a dog called Plum who lives in London.

“My owner Sarah has had the bookshop for five years. She says she is lucky to spend all day with her two favourite things – dogs and books.”

01903 885727;

Keith is a three-year-old Canine Partners labrador who lives with Martin Smailes in Middleton-on-Sea

“I have a very important job! I help my friend Martin go about his day without any stress. Martin has a spinal injury, which means he is in a wheelchair.

“I was trained by the brilliant Sussex-based charity Canine Partners, which provides very clever dogs to assist disabled people with day to day tasks, thus giving them confidence and independence. Martin and I met in 2013 and bonded instantly. I bounded over to him and he instantly fell for my fun, cheeky exuberance. We fast became a great team.

“I now accompany Martin everywhere; I help him when he’s out and about, at work and at home. I pick things up off the floor, open doors, help him undress, load the washing machine, take money out of the cash point when we’re at the shops and more. I even open and close the door for the family cat without a command!

“Martin says I’ve transformed his life. With my help, he can be independent, sociable, relaxed and happy.”

08456 580480;

Bob is an 11-year-old peacock who lives at Amberley Castle

“Don’t let my name fool you! I am a very sophisticated albino peacock – with my train of snow white feathers I strut about the elegant grounds of Amberley Castle like an emperor.

“I was born at the castle and have lived here ever since. Life here is good – it is peaceful, beautiful and I am well looked after. I enjoy roaming the gorgeous gardens, and like to say a loud hello to the guests.

“There are lots of people to meet and greet – overnight visitors, as well as people stopping by for lunch or dinner. On sunny days, I am on the hunt for crumbs left by partakers of afternoon tea; this luxurious hotel has just been named one of the UK’s top 100 restaurants in The Sunday Times Harden’s Guide, so the crumbs are rather tasty!

“There is a great tradition of peacocks living at Amberley Castle. My friend Freda, another peacock, also lives here, but she is not as outgoing as me. Thank goodness – that means I get all the attention! Whilst she shies away from the guests, I love to strut about in the hope that someone will take my photograph.”

01798 831992;

Domino is a six-year-old tom cat who lives at Maidenbower Junior School in Crawley

“I am a school cat. Three years ago I was brought here from the Cats Protection League in Chelwood Gate to be a feline companion for the children, and to scare away the local mice.

“I love living here. I have two playing fields and hundreds of rooms to explore. My favourite spot to snooze is the library, snuggled in a chair or on the heated floor.

“If I’m not sleeping, I like to strut about enjoying my celebrity status. My favourite school subjects are eating (we are a Healthy School, with the official status, and the meals are tasty) and French – I was born in France so I’m fluent in two languages, but choose which one I want to understand; the children sometimes practise their French with me.

“Since my arrival I have transformed one of the teachers, Miss Negus, who was previously anti-cat, into my number one fan. It is a running joke that I love to seek out the computer technician, Mrs Hollis, because she is allergic to cats – I enjoy making her sneeze.

“The school chickens are my pals and soon we will have rabbits and guinea pigs here too. Our role is to teach the children how to treat animals with love and care.”

01293 883758;

Angel is six-year-old reindeer who is staying at Drusillas Park this winter

“Along with my five-year-old brother Twinkle, I will be spending the winter at Drusillas Park near Lewes. I am a friendly and inquisitive lady and Twinkle is hard-working and strong. We both love carrots and lots of attention!

“For most of the year we live on a farm in Kent with 100 other reindeer. We can’t wait to stay at Drusillas because we like meeting all the families that come to visit us there. We’re also excited because Father Christmas and Mother Claus will be in residence at their Winter Cottage, where lots of little humans go to visit them and receive presents.

01323 874100;

Dougal is a three-year-old golden retriever who lives at The Coach and Horses pub in Danehill

“I live here with my lovely owners, Catherine and Ian.

I spend my mornings greeting the postman, deliverymen and dustmen, who give me biscuits. When we open at lunchtime I get up from my favourite resting spot in the middle of the front car park, where I lie blocking the entrance so that everyone has to stop and let me get up before they can drive in.

“Sometimes I stand outside, greeting the customers with a stick in my mouth, or I hang out in the pub. Visiting dogs and I are allowed in the bar but not the restaurant. I’m pretty good at ‘working’ the tables. My technique is to first ask nicely and if that fails I rest my chin on the nice-looking person’s lap – that normally works.

“My favourite dish on the menu is the roasted duck with almond and potato croquettes made by our chef Dan. The food here is very tasty – in fact we were finalists in the Sussex Food & Drinks awards this year.

“Later in the day my job is to check under every table to see if any food has been left behind – I’m a very good cleaner.

“I think everyone should ask to be reincarnated as a pub dog, preferably one that serves great food, has a lovely garden and a big log fire in the winter. It’s a nice life!”

01825 740369;

Lucky is a five-year-old cat who lives at Abbey House Care Home in Bexhill

“I started life on a farm in Battle before moving here five years ago.

I have a lovely life – Abbey House is a warm and friendly residential care home for the elderly, and there are lots of lovely residents and staff who give me attention. If I’m not roaming the corridors to keep abreast of all the goings-on, I am snuggled up in my favourite sleeping spot in the lounge or sunbathing on one of the window ledges. If a lively mood takes me, I like nothing more than a prance around the garden, especially on a sunny day in spring or summer, when I like to chase butterflies. There are no other cats living here – the only other pets are two goldfish, which I’ve managed to resist eating... so far.”

01424 222 534;


Caroline Patey-Johns and Ben Arter at The Whippet Hotel - Caroline Patey-Johns from Burgess Hill has been passionate about whippets since childhood. So when she was in a position to choose a new career path, she decided to set up a business built around their very particular needs...and The Whippet Hotel was born.

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