Winners' Stories - The Barkley
In a series of Blogs we turn the spotight on some of the recent winners of our first eDogAdvisor awards and find out more about how their business started and what it means to be an award winner. We start with The Barkley, winner of Best Doggy Day Care, owned by Pierre Sanan.
The Barkley was recently awarded the accolade of ‘Winner’ in the Doggy Day Care review category for 2015 by edogadvisor, which was an amazing achievement for my business. The award came after a lot of hard work, so we were delighted to be acknowledged with the lovely reviews from our customers that helped us win the award.
Located in the village of Upper Caldecote in Central Bedfordshire, my wife and I founded The Barkley in June 2014 after several months of careful planning. I had decided that I had had enough of the daily corporate grind, travelling over eighty miles a day to work long hours as a Graphic Artworker. I longed for fresh air, the freedom of self-employment, and to spend more time with my beloved dogs.
The Barkley opened in June 2014 with the mission to provide the very best in dog day care, walking and home-boarding. Our aim is to provide a higher level of service, where our canine clients are loved and cared for as if they were are own. We keep the numbers small so each dog gets the attention they deserve, with plenty of space to play and relax. Kind of like a boutique hotel and day spa for your dog!
Luci, my wife, and I have always been a bit crazy about dogs. I grew up in South Africa where my best dog buddy was an English Bull Terrier named Bully – he was a true star. My early experiences of dogs were often dealing with and rehoming mis-treated ex-fighting pit bulls, which gave me a solid grounding in rehabilitation of rescue dogs and nurtured my earlier love of dogs. Meanwhile, in the UK, my wife Luci was growing up with Border Collies, doing agility and generally hanging out with her best doggy friend Bruce (named after Springsteen) who even attended University with her. Our first dog together was our famous Barkley mascot Cav, a typical boisterous, charismatic, and cheeky Jack Russell. Since adopting Cav, we have rehomed two other dogs: Harley, a border collie cross (who can often be seen sleeping on the sofa), and Motown, a border collie cross St Bernard-Newfoundland, who also came from a troubled background, and has become a wonderful dog. Our life is very much made complete by our dogs, and we only want the very best for them. Understanding owners’ needs as owners ourselves was part of our thought process in building The Barkley.
After we opened our business, we began with a very small number of walking clients and our first day care client – Mollie the sprocker spaniel, who still comes to us during the week and attends our adult dog school classes. Word soon spread, and now we host a variety of regular and ad-hoc day care clients, a small number of walking clients, and lots of regular home-boarding dogs who come to The Barkley to enjoy their holidays whilst their parents’ enjoy their own break. Most of our business is now via recommendations from existing clients.
As the business was growing, I spent my spare time making our facilities as good as possible. Last summer I tirelessly dug too many fence posts to remember and renovated our garden chalet for the dogs to chill out in during the hot summer days.
As I was doing this, Luci’s interest in dogs evolved too, and she began to study for a Diploma in Canine Behaviour and Psychology in her spare time. Soon after completing her first assignment, she was hooked and began to attend courses in Canine Behaviour Management, covering topics such as separation anxiety, aggression, puppy training, dog training in general and also shadowing some of the most respected dog trainers and behaviourists in the country. Luci is fascinated by the science behind dog training, and really enjoys spending time working with dogs and their owners to facilitate the best relationship possible. As owners we’d attended dog training classes which had left us feeling pretty disillusioned, so we wanted to change that. Inspired by trainers at the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT) we set up our classes designed to be fun, effective, using positive methods based in science. Luci also became an accredited instructor of The Real Dog Yoga last summer, a method of training and relaxation for dogs, which is really enjoyable for dogs.
As our home-boarding, day care and walking business continues to grow, in 2016 we will be growing the areas of training and behaviour as well as focusing on our food and treat range which we launched on a small scale in 2015. The food range is a natural and healthy range which we sell locally and to our clients. As these areas grow, our focus is to make sure that we keep providing an exclusive, top range service and that our clients – canine and human are happy.
I think that one of the reasons our customers are happy and continue to recommend us is that Luci and I are truly passionate about dogs. Both coming from successful corporate and business backgrounds, we are fortunate have both the skillset in setting up and marketing the business as well as a crazy love of dogs, and a desire to spend our days walking, and playing with dogs of all different shapes and sizes. It also helps that we don’t mind being covered in dog hair! To us, being an award winner makes us very happy and proud that we can do what we love and provide an appreciated service doing it is just fantastic.
For more information on The Barkley please visit the following:-