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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 what I call ‘walk 1’s’ which means the dogs who can mix nicely and be trusted to play out while I wash the yard and runs down. Once the yard and runs are spotless, I walk the dogs. During the time Im washing down its a plate spinning exercise as dogs may need checking in or out, those kennels may need cleaning ready for new dogs etc.

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 get walked by me too when Ive finished cleaning down. Some then get put away and I get the walk 2’s out, which are just the next walk and also ones that can mix with some or all of walk 1’s, any 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 every one 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) and she then does all her jobs plus any extras including house work etc, even ironing ! One day a week I have another lady in who cleans the kennels and does house jobs for me then helps with pm kennels.

At 11 on my days off I usually go out to take time out from the kennels, on my days at home I get to work on sewing dog lead orders which takes me through till about 2-3 pm. During this time Im 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 3pm I am ready to do afternoon kennels, so I spot clean the yard (pick up poops and mop wee’s), 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.

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 ides etc. Today Ive 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 and then they go to their beds for the night. In the evening I prepare dinner for 7pm or when Seb gets home.

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

N’night 😉


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Vaccinations for Dogs – A Guide to using Boarding Kennels

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)

Some kennels ask that your dog be 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  

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 the 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


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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 finger nails
  • 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?


If you want to learn everything and can clean to your hearts 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?

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 be the one who never mixed with the main stream and always wanted to be different. I have vivid memories of working for a small car dealership in Mountsorrel, I pretty much re arranged 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 kennels, I would do the jobs I was asked and then more. I can remember one job in a boarding kennels, 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 any one, 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 shear 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 Im 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.

When you own a boarding kennels, you sacrifice your freedom.

You don’t get holidays like every one else but them I only enjoy UK holidays anyway, like going to the Lake District or Scotland. We are hoping top get away this year and look forward to the quiet times.

There thats 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

Boarding Kennels – A Day In The Life of

…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, its 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 boarders side of the yard and do their waters

Exercise all the boarders 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 mornings check ins is a puppy farm dog / unsocialised cocker spaniel whose owner was worried he may not cope as its 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.

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, thats 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 Im 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 Im away. Corridor mopped and every where 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 beacuse 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 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 1pm 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 2pm, 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 Ive not got time to book them out. I have 7 more orders to make, I’ll do that tomorrow as its 3pm 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, thats the easy bit, all out in one go. Its now 4.30 and time to feed again, so I go in and feed everyone in the kennels, pop beds down for any one 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. Thats 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 theres always admin work to do, or Amazon, Ebay, Next, you know the thing? Or is that just me? Today Seb’s bought 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 Im ready to put the lights out, biking enquiries, enquiries about dog leads etc.

So thats about it really…No doubt Ive 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 final check on the doors and visual check of kennel gate padlocks, head count 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