From a very early age I was the one who took the stray home, helped the injured bird, saved the mouse from the cat – I got my first job in kennels while I was still at school. Above all, I seemed to be the one who never mixed with the mainstream and always wanted to be different. I have vivid memories of working for a small car dealership in Mountsorrel, I pretty much rearranged the whole parts store much to the disgust of my manager. I was trying to take over. I got the sack! Every job where I worked in a kennel, I would do the jobs I was asked and then more. I can remember one job in a boarding kennel, the owner said I did a great job of cleaning the yard as
I went above and beyond what I was asked to do and this is a skill people lack these days.
When I left school, I set up a business selling pet food, this was way before the days of social media so I can imagine how hard it must have been to advertise, it was just the Leicester Mercury and the Post Office window in those days.
When I moved to Kegworth in 1996, I got my 3rd proper job in kennels, although the guy I worked for was more like a dealer, it wasn’t a boarding kennels but it got me to where I am now as I started doing the same in 1999 – assessing dogs and supplying them to the Police & Prison Service, one dog called Storm became an arson detection dog in Ireland.
In 2001 I decided I wanted to move, looking back that took some balls. New area, I didn’t know anyone, didn’t have a job and I had 7 dogs. Straight away I was continuing my work but streamlined it to rescuing Springer Spaniels only, Lincoln ESS Rescue (LESSR) was born. Having a policy of never turning a dog away, by 2008 I was full to bursting but with no regrets and wrapped LESSR up and took in my last / rehomed my last (yeah right!). In July 2008 I had 26 dogs to vaccinate to comply with the kennel licence!
2008 was the birth of Meg Heath Kennels at just 3 kennels, I did them up quickly and was soon up to 8 kennels. Such a lot of work was needed, there was roofing, land purchase for parking and vehicle access to the paddock, painting, buying panels and general refurbishment works. During all of this time I had no one to help me, I did it on my tod.
Now I look back over the last 15 years and it hasn’t been easy. Times I’d literally just break down with the sheer volume of work I’d taken on, I still have done recently but I’m better at it and know what I can manage and what I can’t.
My biggest problem being a kennel owner is staff. I’ve had about 5 good ones in 9 years, they don’t stay, they move on for various reasons, 2 with health issues, one moved on to a better job for what she’d studied for, one had a life crisis and one still here who I’m interviewing to replace as she’s leaving now too. It’s bloody hard when you take pride in what you do. I’m not looking for just another kennel maid, you’ll be a mini-me, the only things you won’t do are sceptic tank duties and putting your arm down a drain up to your elbow to retrieve junk and dog toys. Apart from that, I’ll expect you to do everything I do and vice versa.
Getting time off is my second biggest problem but when you have a dream job you have to make sacrifices, my sacrifice was my freedom. I also have an online business making and selling dog leads and collars, so that keeps me extra busy and out of trouble.
When you own a boarding kennels, you sacrifice your freedom.
You don’t get holidays like everyone else but them I only enjoy UK holidays anyway, like going to the Lake District or Scotland. We are hoping to get away this year and look forward to the quiet times.
There that’s about it for now, but I hope to write more about what it’s like to own your own boarding kennels soon, stay tuned…