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A Day in the Life

A Day In The Life – wow, where do I start? What does a day in the life of me consist of? Its pretty much an 8-8 day with some breaks in between, basically kennels start at 0800. I mop out the luxury kennels then let out all that I call ‘walk 1’s’. Once the yard and runs are spotless, I walk the dogs. During the time I’m washing it is a plate-spinning exercise as dogs may need checking in or out, those kennels may need cleaning ready for new dogs etc.

Dog walking

Walking is another plate-spinning exercise as I try to maximise time out for each dog. So all the walk 1’s get the most time out; they are playing while I wash down. Then they get walked by me too when I’ve finished cleaning down. Some then get put away and I get the walk 2’s out, which are just the next walk. Also, ones that can mix with some or all of walk 1’s, and walk 1’s that don’t mix with walk 2’s get put away. Then there are the walk 3’s, these are generally the ones that don’t mix and need lead walks; the ones with more individual walk requirements. Once walking is done we put everyone away and feed.

My dogs and all the kennel dogs now get fed and the sleeping areas get their initial clean of the day. At 10.00 3 days a week my kennel maid comes in, the kennels get their thorough clean (second clean of the day). She then does all her jobs plus any extras including housework etc.

Days off

At 11 am on my days off I usually go out to take time out from the kennels. On my days at home, I sew up my dog lead orders which takes me through until about 2-3 pm. During this time I’m also doing admin. That includes updating the website and Facebook, taking bookings, lead orders, checking peoples vaccination cards / preparing for dogs coming in, cleaning the house, washing beds, doing our washing, mopping floors, doing PAYE, accounts, any outdoor work such as mowing and any other bits that crop up such as on spec viewings and signing for deliveries.

By 3 pm I am ready to do afternoon kennels, so I spot clean the yard, then start the walk routine again. Feeding again after walks is about 4.30 – 5.00 pm. If I haven’t had a kennel maid in that day, house floors need doing.

The days end

5 pm is the end of the day for any phone answering etc but admin continues, mainly because I enjoy doing my website etc and fiddling with new ideas etc. Today I’ve been adding new pages and posts including this one! At about 6.30-7.30 pm my dogs get their final walk of the day which is one lap of the field, just enough to do their toilets. In the evening I prepare dinner for 7 pm or when Seb gets home.

I generally settle down for TV or watch TV in bed.

 

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Vaccinations for Dogs – A Guide to using Boarding Kennels

Vaccinations for dogs – Each kennel you go to you will find a variation on vaccination rules. The core vaccinations that EVERY kennel should ask for are –

D – Distemper

H – Hepatitis

P – Parvovirus

Pi – Parainfluenza

L – Leptospirosis (L2 or L4)

Kennel Cough Vaccination

Some kennels ask that your dog is vaccinated against kennel cough and some don’t. We DO.  Whether a kennel requires this or not, there is something you need to be aware of. After a dog is given the kennel cough vaccine, they can shed the virus meaning other dogs that come in to contact with your dog are at risk. I have personally seen a dog cough 14 days after being given this vaccination, this is why our rules mean that 21 days must lapse between vaccination and check-in.

I did a bit more research and found this page to be good https://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2102&aid=452  

We make no bones about being strict with vaccinations and will ask you to make alternative arrangements for your dogs’ care should your dog not be vaccinated properly. In 8 years we have had one incident of kennel cough and sent 2 dogs home, both of which left the premises within 2 hours of a cough being heard – we did not mess about. This is why your ’emergency contact’ should be just that if we need to send your dog home. We believe that our strict hygiene procedures and good air flow through our small establishment mean that we have been able to keep the high standards we constantly aspire to. We have a deep clean procedure that involves a total wash down and thorough misting (spraying the air!) of the kennel block and associated concrete areas and that is done TWICE. Thankfully we have only had to do this twice in 8 years.

We appreciate your patience on this subject and can assure you that the recent clamp down on vaccination protocol is because we have been let down by some of our customers. Our standards were high before, now they are higher and ask that you bring your dogs’ vaccination card/s with you every time you check in.

Thank you

Sarah

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Fancy Yourself as a Kennel Maid?

Fancy Yourself as a Kennel Maid? Don’t mind cleaning and love dogs? Well, look no further.

If you are looking for experience and would one day like to own your own kennels, then I will train you up.

Do you fancy the idea of buying kennels or are you lucky enough to have a builder in the family? Then I think you might just be the kennel maid I am looking for?

What you will learn –

  • Cleaning to high standards
  • Cleaning
  • More cleaning
  • … a bit more cleaning
  • Some dog walking
  • No cuddling of dogs, you won’t have time
  • Picking up poo
  • Getting poo under your fingernails
  • Getting wet and cold in the winter
  • Washing dog bowls
  • Running around after my dogs
  • Instantly becoming security for my most precious possession – MY DOGS and Customers Dogs when I’m not here
  • Tending to the dogs’ every needs
  • Mopping up wee
  • Cleaning walls
  • Weeding

In return?

SATISFACTION OF A JOB WELL DONE

If you want to learn everything and can clean to your heart’s content while being a responsible guardian for the dogs in your charge, then you might be my next kennel maid.

What you can learn as well as the above (unpaid) –

  • Telephone enquiries
  • Booking procedures
  • Learn to read vaccination cards and recognises errors
  • Learn to read Pet Passports and recognise foreign vaccinations
  • Record keeping
  • How to talk to customers correctly and what not to do
  • and much, much more…

This position is now closed.

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Working For Yourself. What’s It Really Like?

Working for yourself – 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 kennels, 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.

Leaving School

When I left school, I set up a business selling pet food, working for yourself was great then, 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.

Kegworth, Leicestershire

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.

Moving to Lincolnshire

In 2001 I decided I wanted to move, looking back that took some balls. A 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 English 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

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 16 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.

Staff

My biggest problem when orking for yourself 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.

I had one kennel maid who didnt last 3 hours because she said she didnt like using the hoover as it would scare the dogs.

Some of the shit I’ve had to put up with is unreal! Nowadays I don’t bother with staff, they are more trouble than they are worth. The stress from doing it all myself is less than the stress some people cause.

Time off

Getting time off is my second biggest problem now but when you have a dream job you have to make sacrifices, my sacrifice was my freedom.

When you own a boarding kennels, you sacrifice your freedom. It’s something you don’t really consider.

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…

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Boarding Kennels – A Day in The Life

…a kennel maid & owner of boarding kennels.

What’s it really like working in Boarding Kennels? If you’ve never worked in kennels, you could be finding it hard to get a place. I’ve just had an opening for a kennel maid with over 125 applications. I’ve interviewed 6 people and still not found the right person. I had someone start on a trial and she lasted 3 hours all because she didn’t like being corrected, it’s called training, if you’re not told, you’ll never get it right.

So, today, doing the job of 2 people what exactly have I done?

Out on the yard at 0800 – no point in wearing yourself out working all hours – you won’t last! So 0800 it is.

Put my dogs out in the yard, wash down and do waters

Fresh waters in the house and out in the dog rooms

Mop out the luxury kennels, do waters

Prepare 3 kennels for check-ins

Wash down all the runs and rest of the boarder’s side of the yard and do their waters

Exercise all the boarder’s in 2 groups this morning

Mop house floors

Hang out dog bedding, bring in dry bedding

Exercise my own dogs

In between the above I have 3 check-ins / 4 dogs

One of this morning’s check-ins is a puppy farm dog / unsocialised cocker spaniel whose owner was worried he may not cope as it’s his first time in boarding kennels, so I left him until last to walk. I tried getting down on all fours, doing a play bow and wagging my tail, sorry bum but he wasn’t impressed. Turns out he wouldn’t let me near him until I carefully popped a slip lead on him then he was good to go.

The second challenge was another feral cross who wouldn’t let me near him, so I shut his hatch down giving me better scope for catching him, managed the ‘coochy coo’ bit and got a lead on him – still flighty but with a lovely temperament.

All the others are just crazy Labs, Collies, Shih Tzu, you know the regular types.

Now time to walk my lot, that’s easy. Poop patrol the field, this gets done twice a day.

Feed time, I go straight in and do the boarders, I clean feed clean feed because I’m quick I can clean a kennel and then feed the occupants without any drama. I don’t train staff to do it this way they just clean for me and feed when I’m away. Corridor mopped and everywhere tidied, doors, sills, frames and glass cleaned where required in the kennel area and I’m ready to go in and feed my dogs.

Mix up the food ready, currently using Harringtons and Wainrights meat. I have a tub that it goes in, it gets mixed up and I go to each dogs’ feed station where they either have a bowl or a bowl in a stand. Every one has a set place and that routine rarely changes.

Floors hoovered in the house and dog rooms, sofa hoovered, pots get left till the end of the day. Hang any more washing out etc etc.

Phewwww coffee break.

Check what orders I have for Meg Heath Dog Leads while drinking coffee, pop on Facebook.

Some quick social browsing while I have a break, answering the phone, organising future bookings, waiting for a late check in and preparing for an interview.

Have a quick sarny because it will be after 1 by the time I get to eat otherwise. Ate half of it 🙁

Without realising the time, I need to get ready for an interview – she turns up early so I busy about putting my dogs away and letting her in.

6th interview in 3 weeks.

Its now way gone 1 pm and I have to start to think about going through my orders. By the time I’ve done little jobs and some online stuff its 2 pm, so I get to work and knock out 4 orders, 2 boot leads, one long line and a regular dog lead. I’ll post these tomorrow as I’ve not got time to book them out. I have 7 more orders to make, I’ll do that tomorrow as its 3 pm now, time to start afternoon kennels.

Ok, let my dogs out in the yard and walk Archie, he’s the puppy farm cocker, he was good as gold, walked him with Nala the Shih Tzu. Then I got the feral beast out, poor little chick, he’s quite flighty but put him in one of my martingale harnesses and a training lead (double leading for safety). I walked him with Misty the Labrador and Minnie the Border Collie. They were all good doggies.

Then the 2 newbies Lucy & Abbie, talk about fall in love, I love small cross breeds with Lab in them, one in season, so walked on their own for safety. They were really good too despite being in a strange place. Then it was time to walk my lot, that’s the easy bit, all out in one go. It’s now 4.30 and time to feed again, so I go in and feed everyone in the kennels, pop beds down for anyone who hasn’t got one or who needs fresh, feed one by one and say goodnight 🙂

Tidy up and make sure every ones’ doors are padlocked, kennels locked and nanights…

Feed my dogs and do the washing up. Eggs Florentine for me tonight and a Cappuccino in the office while I write my blog. That’s not the end of the day. There is a quiet patch after 5 until about 6.30 – 7.30 when my dogs get 1 lap around the field again just to go to the loo and have a final blast round. Then sit down either in the living room or go up to bed to watch TV. Sometimes I don’t leave my desk during this gap as there’s always admin work to do, or Amazon, eBay, Next, you know the thing? Or is that just me? Today Seb’s brought us some new toys to play with at the weekend. My new found hobby dare I say, shooting targets up the field..pew..pew..

I generally answer emails up until I’m ready to put the lights out, biking enquiries, enquiries about dog leads etc.

So that’s about it really…No doubt I’ve left something out but you get the general idea about a typical day in my life.

Its generally about 2000 or later at this point so a good 12 hour day, this is 7 days a week, easier at the weekends as I make sure it is and then usually 4 hours off in the week for coffee and shopping. I go round and make a final check on the doors and a visual check of kennel gate padlocks, headcount my dogs in the house and lock all the house doors.

Bath time for me and then I like watching stuff like Embarrassing Bodies, Benefits Britain, Nightmare Neighbours, Big Brother that kind of thing then at the weekends we watch Fargo, sometimes a film, partake in a little bit of tub time and maybe some Moèt (new hobby – Seb’s fault).

So there you go….

~ Sarah Gleave

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Preparing Your Dog For A Stay in Kennels

Preparing your dog for a stay in boarding kennels – A few handy tips

First Time? Depending on their temperament, you may want to consider introducing your dog to kennels. It’s sad to see a dog, no matter how much they are loved, put in kennels for the first time for say 2 weeks. It’s one hell of a shock for even the boldest Labrador. So what can you do to help to make sure their stay in kennels is a positive one?

Consider booking your dog in for what I call a day stay, just one day without staying overnight. Feed them at home and bring their bed and toys to the kennels. Offer to call the kennels at lunchtime to find out how your pooch is doing. It gives you the opportunity to go and fetch them if it is really bad (not unknown)!

Then book your dog in for one day plus overnight, this time take their own food, bed and toys; anything that helps them feel more at home.

Then book your dog in for a weekend, again take all their home comforts and their own food. Drop off Saturday morning and collect Sunday afternoon.

I have always said that you will get a full and honest report of how your dog got on. If he tried to bite me or show any kind of aggression then I will tell you, but ultimately we’re aiming for ‘nothing to report’.

On The Day

Make sure that your dog/s have been walked before you check them in. There is nothing worse than a dirty kennel for the kennel worker and the dogs if the first thing they want to do is relieve themselves, but also they may need to but don’t want to because all of a sudden they are in a strange place. So that makes possible health implications.

Get Your Vaccination Cards Ready well in advance. A good kennel should have checked them at the time of booking, ask for them to be presented at check-in and stay with the dogs while they are in the kennel. Check your kennels rules, if it’s not on the website, then call them. If they are strict or there is something wrong with the vaccinations, your holiday is potentially ruined if the vaccines are not quite right.

Personal items such as bedding (and spare bedding), treats, toys and chews.

Medications There is no point telling the person who checked your dog in, it needs to be communicated at the time of the booking in writing and a note should also be written and put on the actual kennel. I do this even though I’m the only person who feeds.

Check-in day and times Make sure you arrive at the right time and the right day, I had a customer turn up 2 days early this week with potentially disastrous consequences for both the kennels and the owner, fortunately, all was dealt with OK.

Paperwork / formal stuff Does your kennels have a set of Terms & Conditions that you can easily find and do they look professional? Do they have a clear cancellations policy that is fair? Have they asked for all of your dogs’ details including your emergency contact details and explained how this will work? Do they know who your vet is? All these things lead to a better experience.

When your dog goes home It’s usual for things to not be quite right for a few days, after all, no matter how nice the kennels are, it’s still not home. Keep your routine up, don’t let pooch take liberties and watch out for diarrhoea and the dreaded kennel cough. If you didn’t take your dogs’ usual food into kennels, expect their bowels to be unsettled for 24-48 hours while they get used to a different food again.

Kennel Cough During the summer months kennel cough is something your dog might be lucky to escape, they can catch it from anywhere – not just kennels, however in large kennels it’s difficult to avoid. At Meg Heath airflow is good and cleaning standards are high. I have a protocol for an outbreak of kennel cough and unfortunately for the offending dog we send them home as putting into isolation will not help.

So, do your dog a favour, help them enjoy kennels – it is possible, a lot of dogs are quite simply not suited to kennels. The commitment is yours, help them enjoy the experience.