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Dogs Of London Fields

June 4, 2020
by the gentle author

Photographer Rachel Ferriman and Writer Lucy Yates made these splendid canine portraits

“One hot Sunday afternoon we set out for London Fields to discover how dogs and their owners have been faring under lockdown. So many people sat on the grass in the sun that the heavy shade of the trees provided the only spots for dog walkers to exercise their pets. Gradually the buzz of conversation and the dim thud of music gave way to trills of birdsong and the rattle of an occasional train. As the evening cooled and shadows lengthened, the dogs came out.

When we returned the following morning, the park had shrugged off its dusty exhaustion. The tennis courts were newly open and a sprinkler ticked across the cricket pitch. The air was cool and fresh, spiked with moisture. A few yoga devotees had spread mats out on the grass, a scattering of people were breakfasting cross-legged on the grass and two small children chased after a kite. This second visit brought more relaxed opportunities to meet local residents and their pets as they criss-crossed the park, greeting each other.” – Lucy Yates

Max (German Shepherd) with Natasha

“Max belongs to a fellow named Alan. He’s been waiting for a knee operation for well over a year so I’ve been walking Max since I lost my own dog in February last year. Max and Bailey were best friends, Bailey was a Staff-Pitt mix who looked like a thug but was a big teddy bear.

I’ve lived here on the Blackstone Estate for thirty years now. The sun rises over there in the east and, if you stand on this path, you get a cathedral of trees. It’s beautiful. Max is coming up to eleven years old, he has heat pads and cooling pads to keep him comfortable. Max’s owner takes such good care of him. There’s a really good community amongst the dog walkers.”


Peaches (Pomsky Puppy) with Holly & Larry

Larry – “Peaches is twelve weeks old now. We got her from a breeder in Wales. We were unsure about buying a dog during lockdown, partly because we were worried about scammers.”

Holly – “Lockdown is depressing, so in the end we said, “Let’s just go for it.” We’re real lockdown parents, we’ve just been at home feeding her with chicken breast.”


Loki with Evan

“I adopted Loki a year and a half ago from friends who had kids – two boys plus a dog was too much for them. Everyone’s at home at the moment, so it’s easy to walk him but the park has been busy. We have to exhaust him otherwise he’s barking out of the window all day. He gets really hot and is a real puddle seeker, he goes for the most disgusting puddles. There’s a splash and you just see the steam rising off him.”

Loki and his beloved ball

Tommy (retired racing Greyhound) with Katie & Arturas

Arturas – “Tommy’s a retired racer from Ireland, he’s got a tattoo on his right ear. You can use this to look up his sporting achievements on a database. When I saw him in the Battersea Dogs Home I felt an instant connection, he just came up to me. I’d only gone along for a quick look but I filled out the papers and paid £130 for him. I walked all the way to Denmark Hill station to get on the Overground to take him home but he stopped at the stairs. He’d never been up stairs before. He had to learn right then and there – we did it little by little.”

Katie – “When we first got him, he didn’t ever seem happy but now he likes to be petted. The first time we let him off his leash in London Fields he just bolted. We were running around and screaming, “Catch the dog!” The other week he met another greyhound in the park and they just started running together so fast. The whole park was watching.”


Tommy’s racing tattoo

Storm (Siberian Husky) with Luca

“Storm’s a neighbour’s dog, he’s elderly and can’t get out now because of the coronavirus. I used to walk Storm on weekends but now I’m walking her five or six times a week. She hasn’t seen as many of her friends in the park as she usually would.

She’s eight and a half years old, and is a rescue dog from Manchester. It’s been hot today so, if she needs to cool down, she’ll go for a dip in the canal just in up to her belly. I always carry a bottle of water for her too. Walking her is one of the best parts of my day and having her at my side makes me feel better.”


Ludo (Labrador) with Charlie & Milo

Charlie – “Milo’s just got a new ball and is totally focused on that. I walk him every day in London Fields or Haggerston Park. During lockdown, he’s been having two walks a day and everyone’s around so he’s been really happy. He’s got a garden too so he’s a lucky dog.”


Iggy (Hungarian Viszlaw) with Davina

“Iggy is eight months and his favourite snack is apples and coconut strips. We always go for a two hour walk in the morning. I used to be a fashion consultant on the wholesale side. I’ve always supported people in business and I realised I wanted to do it in a more satisfying, nurturing way. I trained as a reiki practitioner and during lockdown I’ve been doing virtual distanced healing. Lockdown has made me slow down in a good way.”


Molly (Jack Russell Terrier) with Sharon

“I bought Molly as a Jack Russell but both her parents are quite long, so she might be a bit Spaniel. She’s ten months old. I’ve lived here thirty years, near Broadway Market.”


Rilo, Laika, Birdie & Jess with Kenny & Riley, aged eight

Riley – “At home we have another dog, Coco, a tortoise and three birds.”

Kenny – “All the dogs were street dogs originally. Rilo and Laika were from Greece, Birdie from Romania and Jess from the Isle of Dogs. We have a business – Adam Reed Salon – in Spitalfields, next to the Ten Bells on Fournier Street. We’d been only open for four weeks and then had to close due to Covid, which was a bit of a disaster, to be honest.”

Rilo, Laika, Birdie & Jess with Kenny & Riley

Rocco & Missy (Jack Russell Terriers) with John

“Everyone calls me John but my real name’s Giovanni. I’ve made films with Robert de Niro – No, I’m joking you! I’m known for having a silly sense of humour. Fella came round with the puppies, I said I only wanted one. He knew what he was doing when he walked in, my wife fell in love with the other one so I bought the two. I had another Jack Russell called Bluey, he used to jump up and down. I told a woman he was an Australian Jack Russell, because all Australian animals jump, don’t they?

I’ve lived around here all my life, my mum died when I was seven and my grandfather’s three sisters and their mum brought me up. My grandad always used to say, “It’s nice to be nice, have a shine on your shoes and a smile on your face” – he had so many sayings. I went to St. Peter’s Italian school in Clerkenwell and one of my granddaughters married an Italian, turns out I went to school with his grandparents.”

Rocco & Missy

Lillie-May with Ann

“I’ve been feeling ill for the last few weeks. I’ve got asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. I usually meet John in the park walking Rocco & Missy too. He’s always waiting for me.”


Crystal (Pitbull-Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross) with Abdul

“I live on the other side of the park. She’s eleven now but I’ve had her since she was about a year old. She wasn’t trained or anything when I got her.”


Jelly with Fran & Grace

“I got her at ten weeks old in February. She’s five months old now. Best money I’ve ever spent. We usually walk in Hackney Downs, but every now and again we come down here.”


Percy & Moomin (Chihuahuas) with Liz

“I’ve had Percy for four years and I got Moomin as a puppy. I work for the NHS, so I’ve been busy but I’ve been walking them early every day. I want to try jogging with them as Percy’s put on a few lockdown pounds recently.”

Pablo (Chihuahua) with Jess

Jess – “This is his first walk. We wanted a puppy for a really long time but now we’re both working from home we had time. Our decision to get him was really spontaneous. We’d been for a walk in Victoria Park and, when we got home and checked the website, a new litter of Chihuahua puppies had just been posted two hours before in Brighton. We chose him because he was super-playful and just wanted to know who you were.”

Sacha – “We talked about good names for dogs really early on in our relationship and we both liked Pablo. He’s Mexican breed so we went with a Latin American name.”

Pablo on his very first walk with Sacha & Jess

Photographs copyright © Rachel Ferriman

You may also like to take a look at

The Dogs of Spitalfields

More Dogs of Spitalfields

The Dogs of Spitalfields in Spring

The Dogs of Spitalfields in Autumn

The Dogs of Spitalfields in Winter

The Dogs of Old London

15 Responses leave one →
  1. June 4, 2020

    What a joyful start to the day: lovely to read about people enjoying exercising neighbours’ dogs. Also Davina modelling a Daunt book bag so beautifully!

  2. June 4, 2020

    Thanks to all the people and dogs who stopped to chat to Lucy and I in London Fields, such a pleasure to meet you all!
    Thanks to Spitalfields Life for asking me to do this story, I love dogs so this was so much fun!

  3. June 4, 2020

    GA, what great timing. This was a joyful, hopeful, humane post — and (oh boy) we need it

    Thanks for spreading optimism, as ever.

  4. Rupert Bumfrey permalink
    June 4, 2020

    About time too, that human’s best friend has exposure through these pages 😉

  5. June 4, 2020

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, thanks for the great piece about dog walkers and their charges on a beautiful summer day in the heart of London. Makes us forget for a few moments all that’s happening in this world today.

    Stay well…

  6. Kenny Crawford permalink
    June 4, 2020

    Aw so great to read this and see the great photos. There are a few familiar faces in there! Brilliant feature.

  7. June 4, 2020

    Are people not advised to wear masks in London. They are in Montreal…. even in the dog park.

  8. paul loften permalink
    June 4, 2020

    What a pleasure to read the stories and see the dogs and their wonderful owners in person in London Fields. I would like to remind anybody that wants to take in a dog or cat in their home to first take a visit to the Battersea Dogs and Cats home. before looking elsewhere. it’s n unforgettable experience that brings home the realisation that these animals need a home to be happy and what great job charities like Battersea do in giving them a chance to get one. Always think of them if you have a few quid spare .

  9. Elizabeth Olson permalink
    June 4, 2020

    Oh my goodness, Rilo looks remarkably like a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever! Bet he’s enjoying himself over there!

  10. Jill Wilson permalink
    June 4, 2020

    Although I am primarily a cat person I can absolutely understand the joy which these dogs give their owners – and to their part-time walkers.

    It his lovely to see so many smiling faces and the portraits of the dogs are great too, and really capture their different personalities and characters.

    Thank you girls (and GA!)

  11. June 4, 2020

    Really cheering in these less than perfect times.

  12. Margret Strohbach permalink
    June 4, 2020

    What wonderful uplifting photos and stories in these Corona Times. Thank you , extremely lovely

  13. June 4, 2020

    What Beautiful Dogs!! Thank You So Much!!!????????

  14. William permalink
    June 4, 2020

    Lovely article. Great to see the dogs, all of whom look very loved. It’s just always a bit sad to read or hear about people buying puppies when there are so many dogs languishing in rescue centres. The person who adopted four street dogs from overseas deserves a huge thank you.

  15. June 5, 2020

    “Are people not advised to wear masks in London.”

    Judith, I agree. These folks looks so different because everyone in Massachusetts must wear a mask in order to enter any business establishment.

    Hopefully, the need for them will end soon…

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