A DOG care company which began in Kirkby Lonsdale less than 20 years ago has now gone international.

Barking Mad, which already has franchises across the UK, has announced the launch of a first ever franchise in the Republic of Ireland.

"Launching our first Irish franchise enables us to realise our ambitious expansion programme, working with local dog lovers to bring our multi award-winning dog sitting service to new areas, without forgetting our Cumbrian roots," said managing director Rachel Stewart.

The company started in the town in 2000 as a local 'dog-sitting' service.

It grew to offer bespoke dog holidays and recruit a community of carefully chosen, dog-loving host families to operate their franchises.

Continued expansion means it now has a nationwide network of more than 80 franchises, though the head office remains in Kirkby Lonsdale.

The idea to expand across the Irish Sea came from Jennifer Curtin from Lahinch, County Clare, whose new franchise will operate in the Galway and Limerick area.

"Brainstorming with a relative in Yorkshire, they asked if we had anything like Barking Mad in Ireland," she said.

"After research, I concluded that we didn’t and went straight to the source to launch my own branch.

"Coming from a large extended family, this is the only time I’ve ever been the first to do anything, so it means a lot.

"Animals have always been my passion. I have worked as a dog groomer for the last 13 years and adore my own two dogs, Kala, a Staffordshire bull terrier and Sky, a collie mix."