simon brooks and monty the whippet
Although pet-friendly travel in the UK is on the rise, there is only one company who does it properly - PetsPyjamas.com. And Simon, being a Pet Concierge (travel agent for dogs), plays a pivotal part in ensuring the hotels they offer are of the highest standard. With over 2000 venues on their books now, and perks ranging from personalised welcome treat boxes to four-poster dog beds, PetsPyjamas are leaders in the industry. We meet Simon and Monty in the PP HQ to talk all things work & play!
Words and pictures: Simon Glazin
On life with Monty: I think having a dog is such a symbiotic relationship, we support and entertain one another whatever the weather! Whippets are incredibly lazy dogs, so he is really easy to look after, he spends most of his time burying himself into a duvet or sprawling across the sofa. People say Whippets have two speeds; 30 miles an hour and 0 miles an hour, so when he comes out to the park he runs laps around all the other dogs and absolutely loves showing off how fast he is.
On work: I manage a team of Pet Concierges (travel agents for dogs) at PetsPyjamas, the UK’s number one pet friendly travel company. We speak to dog owners from all over the country and abroad, finding the perfect hotel or cottage for them to visit with their four legged friends. Being a dog owner myself, I get quite envious of everyone going away on lovely trips all over the place, but I’ve been able to visit a few places for myself and had some lovely times with Monty.
I studied art history at university, and then worked in web development. When I got Monty I wasn’t expecting to do anything dog-related, but I ended up at PetsPyjamas through Monty’s puppy trainer, Louise Glazebrook, who gives her training sessions in the gallery space at the office. I was coming to her classes so that’s how I discovered what PetsPyjamas do. I ended up getting a job here after speaking to the HR manager. I had no previous experience of working with pets, or travel either – just a passion for dogs - but luckily there was a great team here to show me the ropes.
On a career plan B: I did a brief stint as a carpenter and roofer in Australia, which was a brilliant job despite the perils of snakes and spiders hiding under hot tin roofs. When I came back to the UK I was really keen to keep pursuing carpentry, but found I was really too old already to get onto any apprenticeships or anything, so I decided to stick to what I’m good at and work in sales and business development (before pets obviously).
On his best pet-friendly tips and tricks: The most important thing is that your dog is as relaxed as possible, because if you’ve got a dog that’s upset or uncomfortable, you will never be able to relax yourself, and it’s your holiday too! That’s why I’m always careful to recommend places that allow you to eat with your dog, as well as having loads of long walks and countryside nearby. If your dog isn’t well exercised, they will get listless and bored, which often leads to a noisy, unhappy pooch. My favourite hotel I’ve visited is Ravenstone Manor, which has all of the above in bundles. They even have a warm shower and bath outside for washing dogs, very thoughtful indeed!
On his daily routine: I’ve always found it important to live as close to work as I can, so that even if Monty stays at home for the day I can easily pop home and walk him. I get up at 7am every day, take Monty out to the park where all his regular pals are always keen to chase him around. Most days he then comes to the office with me, where there are yet more two and four legged friends to keep him well entertained – PetsPyjamas is definitely a dog-friendly office. By the end of the day he is always completely exhausted and will snooze all evening and all night. Often I think he spends more time asleep than awake! While I’m at work I can be doing any number of things, from speaking to dog owners myself to finding new ways to give better and better service to our customers.
"I’m a massive military history nut... Monty is actually named after Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery, commander of the British 8th Army in the Second World War."
On career advice: For getting into the pet sector, it’s important to understand that everyone’s relationship with their dog is different, and everyone has a different idea about what their life together should be like. Even in my family we have the most spoilt pets (ahem, Monty), right through to working dogs who have a really different lifestyle. Everyone has different needs whether it’s travelling with dogs, how they feed them, how their dogs get their exercise and how they’re trained, so it’s really important to understand how to cater to everyone’s different needs. For working in sales, a really great mentor of mine once said that the best way to approach your work is like running your very own mini-business. You decide how much work and motivation you put in, and by extension you decide how well rewarded you are, and how proud you feel of your job. I think it’s really important that everyone works in a way that makes the most sense to them and gives them the greatest satisfaction, so as a manager it’s important to always remember that there’s no one right way to do anything!
On his favourite Monty 'tail': He goes absolutely bananas every time he comes into work, and has a really specific routine of saying hello to everyone in order, all while sprinting at top speed all over the office and furiously wagging and literally jumping with joy. He does the same thing whenever he gets out in a wide-open space, which is new to him, sprinting in circles at top speed as he can’t decide what he wants so sniff first! He often has these outbursts of irrepressible excitement, which I’ve always found so funny and inspiring to remind me that just the simplest things can, and should bring us so much happiness!
On what breed of dog he'd be: I would have to say Whippet, but then I am a bit biased. I like the idea of being totally motivated to exercise all the time (which I’m terrible at) and the pure speed, it must be incredible from his perspective to whizz through an open field at 30 miles an hour.
On one thing people should know about him: I’m a massive military history nut, it’s my main interest and I spend a lot of time reading and studying the subject. I can talk for hours about military vehicles of World War Two, if I can find someone masochistic enough to listen… On that subject, Monty is actually named after Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery, commander of the British 8th Army in the Second World War. I decided just ‘Monty’ was a bit catchier for everyday use, but he does have a striking likeness to the man himself.