The Hound Hut is Anthony Smallman’s dream and he is joined there by pet groomer Diego Jacome. Simone Richardson and her cat Ivy investigated
Just off Brixton Road near Kennington Park is a place to walk your dog or carry your cat if they need grooming, food, playthings, treats, bedding, apparel, or even their teeth cleaned.
The Hound Hut is the culmination of a dynamic that Anthony Smallman set in motion a dozen years ago.
“I had been in the pet industry for over 12 years, working for a raw food company called Natural Instinct,” he says.
“So The Hound Hut was a natural progression for me.”
It opened on 20 December 2019, giving it scarcely time to establish itself before lockdown.
But Anthony was an immense help for local dog owners through the lockdowns.
“I was such a difficult time,” he says. “I was driving food around in my car doing free deliveries because so many people were scared to come out onto the streets.
“Later, pet shops we classified as ‘essential’ so, slowly, customers started coming back to us instore.
“Soon after, the puppy boom started, and customers flocked to us for our natural treats, our knowledge of foods and our grooming salon.”
Just over six months ago Diego Jacome walked into The Hound Hut and asked Anthony for a job as a groomer of dogs – and was given one straight away.
Diego, who comes from a small town in Ecuador, has groomed many other animals abroad, but my cat Ivy was his first cat over here.
“I moved to London four and a half years ago,” he says.
“I always dreamed about coming to London for a visit, watching this amazing country on TV.”
It took Diego just 25 minutes to completely fall in love with London. “It is charmed!” he says.
“Amazing … the people … the city! All of it is amazing!
“It is completely different – everything: language, food, culture, people – a lot!”
Diego has always loved animals. “I remember my poor mum back home giving me food for the dogs that I rescued from the streets. She told me: “We have three dogs already. We can’t have more! But I still rescued dogs!
Diego began studying on a veterinary course. “But after six months I realised I love animals – but not to be a veterinarian.
“So I changed – big, big jump – I studied to become a tooth technician, and I’m still studying for a year more for my second certificate in tooth technology.”
Diego remembers his first dog show – “I was excited! Nervous! And I paid a lot of money to the groomers who prepared my dogs for the competition.
“Now I realise the grooming was very poor! So I decided to learn about it myself. After that, I always prepared my dogs myself.”
It was the right choice. Diego already has two champion show dogs and would like to open his own grooming salon for dogs and other pets.
He has 11 years’ experience with dogs, but also works with cats, saying: “I love cats as well and Ivy – your lovely baby – was my first cat here in London.
“I do a kinda weird grooming – in a good way of course!
“Rabbits, hamsters, chinchilla, and one day a sheep! Lol!
“So I can say I have had a good experience and can do everything!”
Diego pats the back of Brixton saying: “I love, love London! Brixton!
“I love the people – very friendly, smiley people! The park – Brockwell is great!
“I love watching the people of different ages, countries, everyone busy, walking faster, stores, pubs, clubs, In Brixton you can find everything – the best people.
“But take your time to visit the park, explore the area and for sure you will discover your favourite restaurant there too! Brixton is a city under the city.”
Anthony Smallman says he was “lucky enough to grow up with many pets around me, but my first memory was a mini poodle called ‘Jay Boy’. He was quite a character and ruled the house.”
Anthony and his partner Rob are, of course, pet owners, with “three mini-schnauzers called Olly, Katie (after Katie Price) and Amber. They are a family of their own – mum, dad and daughter!”
They enjoy walks in several local parks, including Brockwell, Kennington, Battersea and Slade Gardens – which is where Hound Hut dog walker Ben also operates.
“We love going into Brixton,” says Anthony. “A stroll around the market and down Electric Avenue.
“We often watch movies at the Ritzy, which I feel is a real treat and, whenever I feel it’s time for a new pair of trainers, I go to the Brixton trainer shops.”
“We’ve had many nights out clubbing in Electric Brixton too (I’m not too old yet for a good boogie) so Brixton for us is the perfect location for everything we need.”
So take your dog – or any animal with fur, as I did Ivy – to The Hound Hut, Clapham Road – very near to Oval Tube, and treat your pet to a groom and check the shop that sells everything dogs and cats need.
Call for a booking – 0800 1933364