Jenni Kenyon, known by many by her social media moniker Jenni Purple, launched her new shop Purple Paw Store by K9 Fitness in Oakfield Road on March 1.
It sells dog sports equipment including harnesses and belts, as well as raw food, treats and toys.
For years, Jenni has competed in sled dog sports events including canicross – the sport of cross country running with dogs, bikejor – riding a bike with your dog, and scooting – going on a scooter with your dog.
She took part in the World Championship about 14 months ago in Firle.
Since 2014, Jenni has also run the popular South Downs & Coastal Canicrossers group, which she said had ‘gone from strength to strength’ over the years.
As many as 25 group members take part in the runs, which she holds at least three times a week.
“It’s such a great sport, especially for rescue dogs,” she said, explaining: “They can still run, but in a controlled way.”
She first got involved in the sport when she got her own rescue dog seven-and-a-half years ago, and says of her pet: “He just loves it, he absolutely loves it.”
It was particularly good hobby to take up amid lockdown, she added.
“Everywhere is getting more and more crowded, especially in lockdown, people have really discovered our beaches,” she said.
“It’s good to get a sport where you can give the dog a really good form of exercise without getting in the way of people and other dogs.”
Jenni can also provide customers to the shop with advice about how to get started with bikejor and scooting.
She said of the sports: “It’s such an adrenaline rush, it really is.”
And the dogs love it too.
“They get to go even faster. With Canicross they can only go as fast as the human can run, but with the bikejor and scooting, quite often you’re struggling to keep up with the dog,” she said.
“I’ve done nearly 30mph – that’s quite scary!”
Jenni, who has four dogs of her own, had already run her own licensed home boarding and dog daycare business, K9 Fitness, for several years.
She began to sell dog sport accessories to members of the canicross group and at events and, when lockdown saw a drop in demand for the home boarding side of the business, she decided to open her own shop.
Jenni said it was going quite well so far and was looking forward to welcoming more customers in the coming weeks and as lockdown eases.