THE phrase ‘dogs are a man’s best friend’ epitomises Tracy St Clair Pearce.

Tracy, famously known for her love of rare breeds, moved her farm from Kent to Colchester in 2002.

Seven Saints Rare Breeds was a specialist establishment for horses, cows, sheep, turkeys, ducks and chickens.

For more than 15 years it ran as a rare breed farm in Severalls Lane, but sadly in 2011 cancer took the leading light when she was in her early 50s.

Her brothers, Flip and Stewart, who are not farmers like their sister, were left wondering what to do with the 34-acre space.

When they discovered literature put together by Tracy whilst tidying the house, the answer came to them.

Tracy, who also had an overwhelming admiration for dogs, had written down ideas on what she hoped to achieve in the future.


She had spent time writing and giving presentations on the welfare of dogs, and so dedicating part of the farm to dogs was at the top of her list.

Her brother Stewart said: “Tracy was one of those people who was gifted with animals.

“Since she died we wondered what to do with the farm but nothing was successful in terms of using the whole space.

“Whilst cleaning one of the rooms we found this wonderful suitcase which Tracy used, and inside she had given ideas of what she would like to do with the farm.

“We thought we would amplify it and turn it into a dog day care centre.”

Over six months, the farm has been transformed into a space for dogs to play and go on walks.

There is also rooms for vets to work in, two play areas, a show ring, and 32 stables which have been converted into accommodation for the dogs.

The site had comprised of a five-bedroom detached house, livery stables and a barn.

Finally Tracy’s dream became a reality, and even though the farm has moved on, the ethos behind it remains the same.

“Tracy is just one of those people who is very inspirational,” Stewart said.

“She had a herd of rare Shetland cows which have gone all over the world.

“With 150 animals it was one of the biggest herds in the country.

“She also had a great commitment to help make dogs better.”

The new dog day care centre is a place to marvel at, but it has not always been an easy ride at the farm.

In 2011 Tracy had a terrifying ordeal as she was threatened by travellers cutting down trees on her farm.

A travellers site next door to the farm was opened by Essex County Council in 2012 and hosts 12 families.

In 2010 after a group of travellers moved off the site, Stewart found heaps of litter and tyres abandoned in the brook, which runs alongside the land.

He had called on Essex County Council to abandon its plans to build an official travellers’ site nearby, in fear it would become a regular dumping ground.

Stewart had opposed the con - troversial site but said he was grateful there has not been any trouble for many years.

In the 15 years it has been there 12 cars have hit the surrounding fence due to the signage.

As Stewart made clear, maintaining a farm and maintaining a house are incomparable.

Last year Colchester Council asked the family to sell the land so it can profit from it as a potential development site, but now the farm is being used in the way Tracy would have wanted it.

“She loved everything about dogs, she was just dedicated to animals,” Stewart said.

“She was so caring about their wellbeing, and she had a fair few.

“She was always with them and I think it’s magical and inspiring.

“I have not seen anyone who can have that sort of relationship with dogs.”

Tracy was one of the only people to be able to perform in front of the Queen at Windsor Castle, when she herded geese with the help of one of her dogs.

She also judged competitions that her own dogs were not involved in.

The Mayor of Colchester and close friend of Tracy, Gerard Oxford, spent a lot of time visiting the farm and he will be taking a look at the new facility tomorrow.

He has known the family ever since he was elected onto the council about 18 years ago.

He said: “She was absolutely animal orientated, when we visited her towards the end of her life she was a shadow of herself but right until the end her main concern was about her animals.

“She made sure the rare breeds went to other breeders who looked after them.”

He attended her funeral and said there were plenty of dogs there, which is what Tracy wanted.

The farm, which was sold to the council about a year ago, has been released back as a place for dogs to be cared for.

Mr Oxford said: “They wanted to do it because it fed back into what Tracy was about, she was a good friend.”

Not having any idea what to do to preserve their sister’s legacy, it seems Tracy had provided her family with the answer all along.