When Val Greenwood was a young girl, she loved animals, but she says she wasn’t smart enough to become a vet so she trained as a teacher.
After a lengthy career in the classroom, however, Val found her way back to caring for animals through her husband who founded ‘The Pet Stop’ in Limavady.
“My husband worked abroad for a while after he was made redundant, but we wanted him home,” said Val.
“There was an opportunity to start the shop, so that was it. I would help at weekends, after school and during the school holidays.”
After her husband passed away, Val left teaching and started working full-time in the shop and has barely had a day off since.
After 30 years since the shop opened and 24 years working for the business, the 78-year-old says it’s time to retire.
“I’m very sad. I’ll miss all the lovely people in Limavady,” said animal-lover Val, who has rescued and re-homed hundreds of cats and kittens over the years.
“So many people have said how sad they are that we are going to close but, I’m 78 and it’s time to retire. I have a mobility problem and it doesn’t help when half the shop is upstairs.”
The animal shop, located on Catherine Street in Limavady, has made the headlines a couple of times over the years, athough, they haven’t been for the reasons Val would have liked.
The Pet Stop’s most famous tenant - Joey, a bare-eyed cockatoo - was headline news when he was snatched by thieves.
The £1,000 celebrity cockatoo, which is almost as old as the shop, was plucked from his cage for a second time in April 2008 forcing Val to issue a heartfelt appeal to the thieves. Her plea worked, ruffling the feathers of those behind the theft and Joey was returned badly injured.
“We got Joey 28 years ago when he was a year old, and the lady who owned him died so we bought him to sell, but my husband, when he heard him talking, said ‘just leave him, here’ so we have had him ever since,” said Val.
“I’m a bit worried about Joey because he’ll miss all the people that have come in to see him and, if I took him home there wouldn’t be the same social environment for him.
“I have two other parrots at home so I don’t know how that will work out. I’m not sure what will happen to Joey. It’s still in the planning stages. Young children come in every day to see Joey and talk to him. He will miss that too because Joey is quite noisy and vocal.”
In the meantime, Val is selling what stock is left in her shop including rabbits, gerbils and hamsters and mice.
She admits she will miss the social aspect of the shop and the loyal customers she has been fortunate to have over the years. “I will miss it very much,” said Val. “I suppose it’s a social thing, but I have to find something to do, maybe on a voluntary basis. I don’t know.”
Val will be closing the shop in coming weeks.
“I want to say ‘thank you’ to all my customers, because for the last 24 years the shop and the people have been a very big part of my life. I’ve loved being in Limavady, apart from a few break-ins, and I will miss the people and the chat.”
For information on the stock for sale contact ‘The Pet Stop’ on 028 777 68805.