Best-known for her fashionable floristry business, Wild at Heart, Nikki opened her first shop in Notting Hill in 1993, followed by stores in Pimlico and Liberty London.
Growing up in Bristol, Nikki initially wanted to be a vet, but instead chose a creative career, falling into floristry by accident after helping friends with the flowers for their wedding. She splits her time between homes in London and West Sussex.
The celebrity florist on the six special rescues in her life and why she’s on a mission to help needy canines world-wide.
Q) Tell us about your first dog.
“I have never not had a dog. Every photo of me as a baby has a dog in it! My family had two Boxers, Kim and Sally, and as a small child, I would often be found in the morning asleep with them in their baskets, or I would smuggle them upstairs. One day, my dad rescued Buster, a stray black Boxer X Labrador, off the street. She was the best dog — we went everywhere together.”
Q) Tell us about your current dogs.
“I have six — all rescues. Twenty years ago, I saved a puppy, Rose, from the side of a road in Puerto Rico. I brought her, and another puppy, home to join my two Battersea Dogs Home rescues, Reuben and Maizie. When I saw a dog identical to Rose at Noah’s Ark Animal Charity in Murcia, Spain, I knew I was meant to have a rescue from there. Rose’s double belonged to the shelter’s owners so I adopted Tia, a black hunting dog who’d caught her tail in a trap. This inspired me to want to reduce the world’s 600-million stray dog population, so in 2015, I launched Wild at Heart Foundation.
“As well as Tia, I have orange Belgian Shepherd-type Smith, who was abused in Spain; Lenny, a 65-kilo Spanish Mastiff , who was thrown down a well and left to die; partially deaf Ronnie, who’s from Romania; Rita, a stocky Staffie-type, from Puerto Rico, and, finally, Ruby, a Rhodesian Ridgeback X Boxer, also from Puerto Rico, who’d been squeezed into a crate in which she could hardly stand.”
Q) Who has been/is the canine love of your life?
“They are all special — it’s so hard to single one out. But Maizie was the dog who was there for me through the most emotional times in my life; she and Rose walked me down the aisle at my wedding, while Maizie also got me through my mother’s funeral and my divorce.”
Q) What do you love most about sharing your life with dogs?
“They truly make me happy. I am never happier than when I see my dogs being happy, running through fields before they fall asleep in front of the fire. That is my definition of happiness.”
Q) Tell us a funny story about any of your dogs.
“I remember walking Reuben in Holland Park once. I looked down and he had a whole baguette in his mouth. I have no idea how he managed to steal someone’s lunch so quickly without me noticing!”
Q) Dogs on/in the bed: yes or no?
“Absolutely! All six on the bed at once!”
Q) Do you have a favourite place for a dog-friendly holiday?
“If I could choose anywhere, it would be Norfolk. There are incredible beaches at Holkham and Hunstanton and there’s a fab deli at Thornham where you can sit with your dogs in their lovely garden.”
About Wild at Heart Foundation
Wild at Heart Foundation supports animal welfare ventures, including rescue projects, awareness campaigns, neutering programmes, research into new sterilisation techniques, and education initiatives all over the world.
By 2025, the Foundation hopes to rehome 10,000 dogs, neuter 100,000 dogs, and educate 1,000,000 children.
“It costs nothing to be kind,” said Nikki. “When you adopt a dog, you are saving a life — that’s the most important message.”
For more information, and to see the dogs currently looking for a forever home, visit www.wildatheartfoundation.org