Get to Know our Breeder Channel Manager
Sarah was recently interviewed for Our Dogs - read their interview below to find out more about the lovely Sarah!
So Sarah, tell us how you came to join Agria?
I had originally applied for a position within the Agria Veterinary channel. I saw the position and wanted a change from my role as a business manager within a Welsh Medium Secondary school, and was very lucky to have an interview. When I got talking more about my hobbies and experiences that were all dominated by dogs - owning, showing, breeding, training, committees and just being a huge dog lover - I was offered the position of Breeder Channel Manager! It was a dream come true. I am very fortunate to say that I can do a job that heavily involves my passion, which is animal welfare and generally being a crazy dog lady!
What was it about Agria that made you want to work for them?
On doing my research, I loved the company's ethos, culture and ways of listening to the customer and understanding their animals. Agria has a family, friendly feel, as if you are working for a small local business, yet it is the world's oldest and largest animal insurer and has been supporting animals and their owners for over 130 years! I love the fact we have this great sense of family, yet we are a multi-award winning company, named the UK's Most Trusted Pet Insurance provider by Fairer Finance in Spring 2021, and our Lifetime and Lifetime Plus policies for both dog and cat have recently been named a Which? Best Buy!
What is a typical day for you post COVID-19? Have things changed a lot?
Yes, things have changed. Before the pandemic, you would always have seen the team and me at events - but unfortunately that changed as the events closed, and sadly some open shows are still not up and running yet. I am pleased to be on the committee of the Dragon's Ci group, which is helping a lot of societies get back up and running, post pandemic.
Before Covid, I would typically be out and about at meetings, whereas everything now is done via virtual meeting, such as Teams or Zoom. I am a very personable, sociable person and love the face-to-face interactions I have with our Agria Breeder Club members and customers, so I have missed this. However, on the other hand, social media has played a huge part. People now message me directly via social media - maybe they are whelping a litter at silly a clock in the morning on a Sunday and want to ask something before they forget. Being able to message me right there and then has given me a great way of getting a wider reach to our customers. The same as being tagged in queries or posts, it does have its positives.
I am pleased to be on the committee of the Dragon's Ci group, which is helping a lot of societies get back up and running, post pandemic.
Before Covid, I would typically be out and about at meetings, whereas everything now is done via virtual meeting, such as Teams or Zoom. I am a very personable, sociable person and love the face-to-face interactions I have with our Agria Breeder Club members and customers, I have missed this. However, on the other hand, social media has played a huge part. People can message me directly via social media, they could be whelping a litter at silly a clock in the morning on a Sunday and want to ask something before they forget in the morning. By messaging me right there and then, I can get a wider reach to help our customers. The same as being tagged in queries or posts, it does have its positives.
I head up the Breeder Channel, and am responsible for ensuring the Agria Breeder Club evolves to continue to meet the needs of its growing breeder membership. I support our Breeders where I can with insurance, including our unique Breeding Risks cover. I am proud to say that Agria is the only pet insurance provider within the UK that will cover breeding; from fertility testing to the unfortunate instance of an unplanned caesarean or even the unthinkable instance of loss, whether mum or puppies. As a breeder myself, what I love is that we can cover the pups from the moment they are conceived, right up to 13 weeks of age, or when they leave for their new home, whichever is sooner. Our 5 weeks Free Insurance for breeders is activated when a puppy goes to their new home. It's immediate cover for illness and injury giving our breeders, their owners and most importantly the puppy, peace of mind and protection in the first few vulnerable weeks in their new homes.
Is Agria solely dedicated to pet insurance? Why is it a good choice for dog exhibitors and breeders?
Yes, we only deal with pet insurance. We are very proud of this!
We may not insure your car or your house, but we most certainly will insure your dog! Therefore, we are the pet specialist insurance. We only care for animals, we only think of the welfare of animals, and we only concentrate on how we can better service animals and their owners. We eat, sleep, breathe animals and always take the time to listen to our customers and potential customers, with the pet's health at the forefront of our mind, every time! As previously mentioned, we are the only providers of a breeding risk cover, and we will cover working dogs. We love happy, healthy dogs and understand that working and breeding can be part of this. Our contact centre is based in the UK, this is a massive plus for our customers, they know that when they call us, we will have the same empathy and feelings for our pets as you do. We also only provide lifetime insurance, which is the only insurance an animal professional would recommend.
You also show dogs, is it easy mixing business with pleasure?
Yes, I show, breed and I am owned by Borzois. I am a second-generation breeder, so have been brought up in the world of responsible, pedigree dog breeding, showing is something I enjoy so much. I love it when you have a dog that loves it as much as you do, and you can just feel it coming up the lead. I think I am very lucky to be able to mix business with pleasure, how many people can say that they love their job and that it encompasses everything you are as a person. But it's also great because I know what our customers are talking about, I understand the frustrations and concerns of pet owners and breeders, so this gives me a huge insight and understanding of my role within Agria and the world of pet insurance.
Has your role changed at all over the years?
It has developed. I have been putting myself out there as the main contact for our breeders, it wasn't initially going to be like that, but I think because I have been part of that world all my life, it naturally became that way. AND I LOVE IT! 😃
Tell us about your background in dogs
So as mentioned I am a second-generation breeder, my mum has been breeding pedigree, KC breed standard dogs for over 50 years.
The Borzoi is my favourite breed of dog. Even though I love all dogs, the Borzoi is just so unique. They are graceful yet strong, stubborn yet loyal, regal yet goofy and so beautiful, and to see one in full flight out running in an open field is my favourite thing to see!
I had my very own Borzoi at the age of ten. That’s all I wanted. I knew mum was having a litter and I kept on and on from October (my birthday) to Christmas. I wrote it on my list when we were all writing our letters to Father Christmas. I kept on and on and on!
One day mum sat me down and said, ‘Sarah, I don’t think you will be able to have one from this litter, maybe when you’re older. You will need to pick something else for Christmas.’ So reluctantly I picked a Miss Scarlett classic Barbie doll from Gone with the Wind. I thought fair enough, I can’t have one this time, but I will when I’m older.
Christmas Day, I opened my presents, I didn’t have a Miss Scarlet Barbie doll. Mum and dad came out with an extra present that was kept behind for me… I felt it and it was all soft, it was a huge cuddly Old English sheepdog teddy bear with a real dog’s collar and lead. On the collar it said, ‘If I won’t quite do, look in the kennels’, well I looked around for a bit as it didn’t sink in, and mum and dad explained… I was sooo happy! I remember getting up, putting my wellies on and running down the garden into the kennels. I felt like the luckiest girl in the whole world! I was having one of the Borzoi puppies! I picked a little girl, and I named her Mischran Miss Scarlett, after the Barbie doll I reluctantly picked as a substitute for not having a Borzoi of my very own. That year she qualified for Crufts and I was so nervous, but I loved it. I was showing my own Borzoi!
Our breeding has had great success and can be seen around the world in Chili, Germany, Russia, France and the Czech Republic. We base our kennels on excellent temperaments and a dog fit for purpose by keeping to the 'Old English' type that we prefer.
I have been on several show committees, and I am currently the treasurer of Chepstow and District Canine Society. I have always taken an interest in young handlers and will support where I can. I feel we need to be encouraging them for the future of our hobby and beloved breeds.
Tell us what your Crufts will be like and how do you prepare for it, personally and as a company?
Crufts prep starts as soon as the previous Crufts has finishes 😊 ha ha! There is a lot involved from our stand, our activities surrounding the event, making sure we have the staffing to cover the days, uniform, point of sale and that we are advertising our presence of course.
As a major sponsor of Crufts and the only pet insurance endorsed by Crufts, we want to make sure that each year rivals the next. We also co-sponsor the KC Breeders competition and I love this so much. For me it epitomises everything about well-bred pedigree dogs. It's fun, it's a bit different and it showcases what the UK have to offer in terms of responsibility bred, fit for purpose dogs.
Team Mischran has qualified 12 of our beautiful dogs, but we have had to decide which ones to enter. We have 8 of our own and 5 that we have bred entered so we will be arranging a little celebratory Mischran Crufts party by the benches. Crufts is always manic, but it's the best buzz ever! The sore feet and lost voices are always worth it, whether I am working it or exhibiting.
Related guides and advice
Keeping your pets cool and safe: Essential tips for hot weather care