If you think having a single puppy at home is already hard work, you have to meet Claire Peterson of The Little Animal Co. Growing up with pythons, alpacas, emus, among many others, Claire has her heart firmly set ever since she was a kid to raise, rescue, and love animals and to also give them a safe place they’ll all call home. Now running her own business, Claire found a new calling in providing pet services for weddings and events.
Hey Paolo: How did you start The Little Animal Co.?
I’ve always been a big animal lover. As a zookeeper, wildlife keeper, veterinary nurse, and conservation educator in the past, my world has always revolved around animals. I’ve also forged a career around something I love and something I’m passionate about.
When I had my wedding six years ago, I wanted to include my pets in the ceremony too, but unfortunately, there was no one who can look after them and there were no companies/businesses that offer these kinds of pet services during weddings back then.
I had a koala, Edmond, who has lived with us as an orphan for some time and during my wedding day, he was also there at the venue to act sort of as our “best man.” I made sure he will be present at my wedding and that guests will have a chance to have photos taken with him too.
My business started from there. Since 2014, my network of friends started asking me to help them with their pets and how they can incorporate them into their weddings. Now, my services range from pet pickups, chauffeurs, pet limo services, and even cafe hangouts/day outs with their dogs before the wedding, etc.
Hey Paolo: How did your love for animals begin?
Growing up, we used to live in the city and had a massive backyard. My oldest brother also loves animals. I used to bring and rescue animals back home. I almost had a mini zoo in the backyard. That kept me busy and entertained.
Hey Paolo: What animals do you have now?
I have a farm at home. We’ve had two cats (but sadly one passed away last year), chickens/roosters, a pair of rescued cockatoos, an Amazon greet parrot and a few other parrots, quails, rescued lorikeets, goats, sheep, a rescued alpaca (but has already passed away), two ponies, and an emu. I also had a cycle of rehab animals coming in and out of the farm at different times and we release some of them back to the wild.
I’m a bit of a bird nerd. I probably have more birds than anything else…
Hey Paolo: What’s your typical day with your animals like?
Given that I was a zookeeper, I pretty much do “zoo rounds” at home too. I get up really early before I get ready for work. I usually feed my dogs and cat first, and then I go to the different areas of the farm. Daily, I do constant rounds of feeding, watering, and monitoring.
Hey Paolo: What’s the value of animals for you?
I used to be really shy and passive when I was a kid. Animals were good for me because I can talk and connect with them. They were always happy to see me. They give me confidence and with them around, I feel validated as well. It has always been a loving place for me. They also represent loyalty and unconsumed love. They’ve been my world.
Hey Paolo: What kind of services do you offer at The Little Animal Co.?
A lot of my pet services are customisable — from pet chauffeuring services, taking someone’s pet to the wedding, etc.
Hey Paolo: What are the biggest animal trends that you see now?
Dogs are everywhere: dogs at weddings, dog-friendly cafes, dog events, etc.
Hey Paolo: Recommendations for…
Pet-friendly Cafe: Argo on the Parade is one of my favourites. They have an awesome menu and their cafe also caters to dogs. They also have beautiful murals where you can also have cute little photos of your dog next to it.
Place outside your home where you love bringing your dogs to: There’s an awesome dog park at Marshmallow Park on Glen Osmond Road.
Dog-friendly wedding venues: A lot of the wineries and wedding venues in the Adelaide Hills are now pet-friendly. Maximilians Restaurant is brilliant — plus they have an emu there too! Woodburn Homestead is also beautiful and it is an amazing venue. There are always new venues popping up everywhere.