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Picture paw-fect: Charli & Coco

With the weather changing, now is the time to think of your pet’s needs over the coming cooler months. With limited quantities from some international suppliers, it really will be a case of first in, best dressed (and bedded).



Charli & Coco unquestionably have the largest range of décor friendly beds with an extensive range of all-weather beds, dog sofas, French Country baskets, beautiful faux fur, and cashmere beds.

“We also stock beds with wool inners which have many additional benefits, from keeping dogs cool in summer yet warm in winter, to maintaining their shape whilst offering exceptional comfort,” says owner Michelle Freeman.

“Additionally, we carry the Bianca Lorenne luxury range of pet beds in sumptuous velvet and timeless wool check.”

As a specialised dog outfitter, the boutique carries an exceptional range of clothing options, from Boho-inspired fringed dog jumpers in modern neutral tones to aristocratic tweed walking coats, Liberty print raincoats and shirts, and a classic yellow raincoat that is practical and super-stylish.

“We stock a huge range of merino jumpers in a range of thicknesses and a rainbow of colours, perfect for layering under jackets,” says Michelle.

“One of our most popular items is the wool blend jacket harness. It is thoughtfully designed to minimise time getting out the door and offered in a range of delightful check fabrics with gold hardware.”

Whether providing an extra layer of warmth on top of or underneath your four-legged friend, make sure it’s done in style.

Ph: (03) 925 9957 | | | 3/54 Holmwood Road, Merivale, Christchurch



Fluffies for fluffies: Fluffies for fluffies

The aptly named Central Bark Café is a haven for customers who wish to relax, indulge and meet likeminded pet owners. Locally owned and operated by Cantabrian Linda Ashworth, her goal is to create a destination café like no other in Christchurch.


Here you’ll not only find a tempting cabinet bursting with fluffy cheese scones and mouth-watering cheesecakes, but a menu awash with vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian options.

The café’s skilled baristas offer a wide selection of coffee (Halo Coffee), teas, smoothies, cold drinks, New Zealand wine and craft beer.

And that’s just for humans – the real point of difference here is the doggy menu; pupcakes, freshly made dog biscuits, puppaccinos and made-to-order doggy birthday cakes! Paw-fect!

Linda says Central Bark takes the role in helping to save the planet seriously, so you can dine at the café with a clear conscience.

“We designed our café furniture couches from old 44-gallon drums which we had environmentally cleaned of their oil and then we recycled the drums into amazing comfy couches, we have minimised our plastic usage wherever possible using such items as eco-friendly coffee cups and vegan straws made from rice,” she says.

Being part of Pet Central, this 11 Langdons Road locale also offers retail, grooming, daycare, training classes and even a luxury cat boarding hotel. Venture over for a dose of culinary cuteness!


Weekly Central Bark Café regular Canterbury



Walk-in wash: Barking Clean

When dog lover Maria Court’s new puppy Zoe came with a few unexpected health issues and very sensitive skin, she became determined to find products that would be suitable for her furry friend. And so, the idea of Barking Clean Self-Service Dog Wash was born.



The standalone units are large, elevated stainless-steel tubs with removable shower heads, making it easy to contain and wash canines of all shapes and sizes.

The units are currently operating from outside the Prebbleton Veterinary Hospital and Auto Express Car Wash/Tunnel Wash on Sawyers Arms Road, Harewood (near The Groynes dog park).

Costing just $10 in note or coins to operate, each wash includes luxurious, natural-ingredient shampoo, conditioner and flea shampoo, using warm water and a two-speed blow-dryer, brush and an automatic cleaning rinse after each use. The units are safe, easy to use and regularly cleaned.

“All our products used are specifically designed for the best care of your pooch,” says Maria.

“This includes premium ingredients free of phosphates, parabens and enzymes, soap free and bio-degradable.”

Better yet, they are “gentle enough for everyday use, suitable for all coat types, and pH balanced especially for dogs”.

With the aim of “every customer – both human and canine – to have a great experience at our dog wash” it sounds like a service worth barking over.

Find Barking Clean – Self Service Dog Wash Open 24/7 on Facebook; or at Prebbleton Veterinary Hospital, 56 Blakes Road, Prebbleton and Auto Express Car/ Tunnel Wash, 530b Sawyers Arms Road, Harewood.


In dogs we trust

The bond between human and dog is unmatched. And when a dog’s role is to help their person, intriguing tales are to be told. Love for animals was Sue Allison’s inspiration to write the book Friends Indeed: Assist Dogs and Their People. However, it was the human connections that captured her heart.



The 63-year-old Christchurch journalist and freelance writer lives on a lifestyle block in North Canterbury where she and her husband have raised four children as well as a menagerie of animals. “It’s a city girl’s dream,” she says. “So writing about animals as well is nirvana!”

Sue has written two children’s books and recently Secrets of Small Gardens published by New Holland, who was keen to publish her next inspiration.

“I have a background in anthropology. I’m not a newshound but I love writing, especially about humans and animals,” says Sue, who chose to write about dogs helping people in a health-related capacity such as sight, hearing and mobility impairment. She travelled around the country interviewing people with assistance dogs.

“Everyone had a story. I thought it would be a hard job choosing which ones to include in the book but everyone I talked to is in it.”

There are 41 chapters, each about a person, a dog, and their bond. The profiles include Cantabrians with heart-warming twists to the waggly, often hilarious, tales.

“People loved telling me the naughty things their ‘goofy’ dogs did when off duty. These are serious stories but there’s plenty of light heartedness.”

Errol from Christchurch certainly attracts children’s attention with a teddy bear riding the back of his guide dog, Prince. When Christchurch musician John Hore got his first guide dog, Brindy, in place of a cane, he felt like he was flying.


The Carnahan family’s life changed when Lady walked through the door to help their son with autism. Young Juno’s reading flourished when she joined the New Brighton library’s Reading to Dogs programme, because “The dog doesn’t notice when I get a word wrong.”

As an animal lover, Sue secretly feared the dogs would have a limited life. “But it was quite the opposite. They have 24/7 company, their own person, and a job. That’s a pretty perfect life for a dog. These dogs are so eager to help their people, and the trainers harness that desire.”

While labradors leap to mind as the most common assistance dogs, there is a growing diversity of breeds. With their amazing sense of smell, spaniels make excellent diabetic detection dogs, while small breeds are perfect for the elderly and there is a move towards dogs such as poodles which don’t shed hair.

Strong and amiable, golden retrievers are great for mobility assistance.

While most assist dogs undergo rigorous training and are bred for their jobs, several dogs in the book are rescue dogs, including three saved from death row at the pound.

“The dogs do so much more than their official roles,” says Sue. “For people with special needs, their dogs are a visible sign of often an invisible disability.

They are also often a portal to more kindness, bringing out the best in everyone and acting as social conduits for people who can feel quite isolated.

These dogs, and their people, are all heroes.”


Food for thought: Charli & Coco

As Michelle Freeman and her daughter Charli began to expand their pet family, they became increasingly concerned about the unnecessary and extensive use of plastic packaging particularly with regards to pet food and treats. And as a result, Charli & Coco was established.



As a way of reducing waste, the luxury pet boutique offers customers a pet grocer and refillery.

“The raw food products we are stocking are all New Zealand sourced, have no preservatives, no artificial colours or flavours and are hormone and antibiotic free,” says Michelle.

Coco (pictured) and her pet siblings are raw food diet converts after noticing the benefits such as a better coat condition, healthier skin and cleaner teeth.

But it is the store’s dry food and treats pet refillery that is a head turner for the city.

“Customers have the option to bring their own containers to refill or purchase some of our stylish and functional vessels for long term storage all of which cuts down on unnecessary packaging,” says Michelle.

The advantages? Customers are only purchasing what is necessary and pets can try a variety of new products without wastage.

Visit the store at 3/54 Holmwood Road. To get in contact, email or phone (03) 925 9957.


Are routine blood tests helpful for your pet? Wigram Vet and the Good Dog Spa

Wigram Vet and the Good Dog Spa’s Geoff Mehrtens tells Metropol how screening blood tests can greatly enhance a vet’s understanding of your pet’s health and uncover many underlying illnesses.

Blood tests make a difference to cats’ and dogs’ wellbeing, sometimes a lifesaving difference.

“Blood tests are great value for money and vets love having that background information,” says Geoff.

“Your pet’s blood tests could literally be a life saver.”

Geoff says many underlying diseases such as chronic renal or liver failure, hormonal diseases like Cushing’s Disease, as well as diabetes and hyperthyroidism (in cats in particular) can all live undetected to the untrained eye.

“Undetected these diseases can cause irreversible damage to vital organs. However, early recognition can allow early and successful treatment and management to allow your pet to live to a healthy old age.”

Whether it’s peace of mind or to investigate a concern, speak with Geoff and the team at Wigram Vets and the Good Dog Spa about obtaining a pet blood test.

Max’s story:

German Shepherd Max had chronic intermittent skin problems.

His owners were frustrated, treating the same issue, year-on-year with no progress.

A more in depth workup including blood tests showed that he was hypothyroid.

Max is now on the road to recovery.

Cleo’s story:

Cleo’s owners were at their wits end with her inappropriate urination, and ready to say goodbye. She was elderly, depressed, and losing weight.

Routine bloods confirmed that she was a diabetic. Now her diabetes is well controlled she is back to being a loving, revered member of the family.


Puppy School Paw-fection: Ourvets

A passion for dogs and their good behaviour drives Sarah Ryan, Veterinary Nurse at Ourvets St Albans. With 15 years as a vet nurse under her belt, Sarah knows what makes our canine friends tick – right from puppyhood.


At Ourvets St Albans Sarah runs The Puppy Club – puppy training classes that are the equivalent of primary school for your furry new member of the family.

“At puppy school I teach you how to train your puppy, but also how your puppy learns, communicates, and develops,” she says.

“It is a fun and interactive course set over five lessons, where you get information, tools, tips, and tricks to ensure your puppy becomes a social, happy, and confident dog.”

Sarah says the first session is an owner’s only class and then you bring your puppy to the group for the next four sessions.

“We are very busy at the moment, with eight maximum per class, we have been running two to three classes with all of the pups aged between eight to sixteen weeks.”

At puppy school, small canines and large humans learn basic dog obedience covering sit, drop, come, and stay; toileting; crate etiquette; digging, barking, and chewing issues, as well as socialisation.

“Owners tell me they find the training really effective, and the recall command has brought back many a little escapee who is tearing across a park,” she says.

Sarah has her own dog, a gorgeous three-year-old Border Collie called Piper who is, of course, so beautifully trained she has already ready won the beginners grade in the National Dog Obedience competition.

However, for Sarah, working with Piper on dog obedience as well as a full-time vet nurse and puppy wrangler extraordinaire at Ourvets just wasn’t quite enough.

Sarah also has her own dog walking business, Pets Steps.

“I walk dogs one at a time or perhaps along with Piper. If owners request it, I can train their dog on how to walk on a lead really nicely at heel. The dogs respond really positively and I’m passionate about that.”


A local favourite: The Ivy

If you’re looking for a reason to venture over to Sumner, we have just the place for you. The Ivy continues to be a local favourite after six years in business, and just by one visit it’s easy to see why – being greeted by Karen and her faithful golden retriever makes for a pleasant experience.



She really wishes to thank everyone for the ongoing local support and is proud to say, “The Ivy has been bustling and busier than usual for this time of the year.

“Borders being closed hasn’t slowed availability of our carefully curated range of both imported and locally sourced items.”

The range includes everything from kitchen to garden, books, homewares, clothing and accessories, baby and children’s, and of course, home fragrance.

The shop itself smells divine with a combination of a beautiful range of locally produced and imported candles, diffusers and more – including the ever popular Lyttleton Lights candles.

Open Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm and weekends 11am to 4pm. Follow @theivysumner on Instagram and The Ivy on Facebook.


Help the huskies

When Twilight became a hit, so too did the husky dog breed. By the time Game of Thrones hit our screens, Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes and other ‘wolf’-like breeds and crossbreeds had been cemented as the ‘it’ dogs for 15 to 25-year olds. It’s Michelle Attwood and her Husky Rescue NZ team who are picking up the pieces.




The Christchurch-based charity has spent the last 11 years rehabilitating and rehoming the huskies – one of the most rehomed breeds of dog in New Zealand.

“As soon as we thought ‘yay no more Game of Thrones’ we got Togo on Disney Plus and The Call of the Wild,” Michelle says.

“Hit movies made them popular, but Facebook marketing and the ability to market these dogs online made the perfect storm.”

Because, as beautiful and loveable as huskies are, they are also strong-willed, independent and high-maintenance.

They not only need strong discipline, a well fenced backyard and plenty of exercise, but there’s also a dense dual coat to deal with.

Some of them are like naughty school children and some of them just tear you apart when they leave, Michelle says.

A previous arrival weighed just 7kg. “We had to fatten her up to 13kg just to be able to transport her to our main base,” Michelle says.

“She’s now 18kg and went to an amazing home recently. There were a lot of tears!”

Handing the dogs over to their forever homes is the most fulfilling part of what Michelle does. A family that adopted one of the very first dogs in Michelle’s care recently adopted another one and it’s people like this that become like family.

“Getting stories and pictures from people is awesome; seeing the dogs playing in the snow or curled up in front of their new fireplace is just the best feeling.”

Established by Michelle in 2009 when she became aware of the sheer number of unwanted or abandoned huskies, Husky Rescue NZ takes in surrendered or abandoned huskies, assesses their health and suitability for re-homing before arranging for them to be de-sexed, vaccinated and micro chipped.

The team then works tirelessly to ensure the dogs find their forever home with someone who is aware of what’s required to look after this majestic breed.

But all of this comes at a cost – approximately $380,000 per year (pre-COVID-19). The charity previously relied on income from public events and educational activities to meet their funding requirements and until recently, plans were in place to further development their recently leased premises in Rolleston.

But the impact of COVID has not only put paid to those plans, it’s put the future of the charity in question.

When COVID hit, there were 67 dogs in their care and the charity lost all of its income.

“We’ve never had to rely on donations, we financed it ourselves, but suddenly there was only donations.

“The public did try to help, for which we are forever grateful, but we haven’t reached our goal and we may have to close our big South Island base. The reality is, without a very large injection of funding, we will have to drop back substantially. We’re hoping to not have to close, but bulk funding is now urgent,” Michelle says.

“At the moment, the future is looking very bleak.”

To help Husky Rescue NZ, text HUSKY to 833 to make an instant $3 donation, find them on Givealittle, or visit the website below to find out how you can help. Corporate donations and sponsorships will be welcomed.


Why weight matters: Wigram Vet

Bella is a wonderful example of how a successful weight loss programme can lead to a major improvement in wellbeing. Bella’s owners love her but as she crept up to a biggest ever weight of 48kg there came a turning point when she became lame in her left hind leg. A tough love conversation was needed


Bella really looks forward to her swim time with Kate. We love the new look of her figure and mobility,” says Troy, owner of Bella.


At her current weight, Bella was a very poor candidate for a surgical repair of a ruptured cruciate for instance.

Bella had tried several diets, but Labradors have a food drive that defies any but the most well-organized of plans.

Bella is now a curvy 39kg and is on a happy path to her goal weight of around 32kg.

“We have achieved this with a combination of clever diet and exercise in our underwater treadmill. Her transformation is amazing,” says Wigram Vet Geoff Mehrtens.

Underwater treadmill exercise has many benefits for overweight dogs.

Even elderly arthritic dogs enjoy exercising in a carefully managed warm water environment.

Underwater treadmill exercise is a great way to rebuild wasted muscles. Muscle mass rapidly increases with minimal risk of injury to stressed ligaments and joints.

Geoff says, “Bella is more lively, enthusiastic and her skin has improved. She has literally shed years off her life and is looking forward to getting back to her previously active lifestyle.”

Obesity is a sensitive topic and unfortunately the clear benefits of a healthy bodyweight are often lost in a debate that becomes blurred by other issues.

At Wigram Vet and the Good Dog Spa they try to incorporate holistic wellness into their approach to your pet’s health. In modern western society many dogs and cats suffer from being overweight.

There are many studies that clearly show a link between obesity and decreased quality of life.

It can lead to osteoarthritis, cardiovascular issues and inflammatory disorders affecting ligaments, joints and skin.

Does your dog have difficulty rising or lying down?

This could be a sign of osteoarthritis and your dog may be trapped in a vicious cycle of feeling too sore to move and exercise.

If you would like to know more about the ‘K9FIT FOR LIFE’ program, please contact Wigram vet and the Good Dog Spa.