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November 12, 2011

Shop Talk: Hannalore Kennels

Hannalore Kennels 15673 County Route 23, Unadilla Owner: Cheryl Eighmey Purchased: 2006 Employees: None (self/family)

Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Cheryl Eighmey of Hannalore Kennels in Unadilla.

How long have you lived in the area?

I have lived in this area since 1976.

Tell me about your business:

There are lots of things to say when describing what my business offers; as a kennel, I board not only dogs and cats, but all of a family's pets. When someone travels, they may have several different pets that all need care. We lovingly house birds, pet pigs, hamsters, guinea pigs, reptiles, goats and ponies; we have the space and know-how to care for any pet.

In addition to the kennels for short- or long-term boarding, we have a busy professional grooming facility, private and group obedience classes, pet behavior and psychology consultations, dog grooming classes and doggie day care. One of the business specialties is handling aggressive dogs. Another unique feature of Hannalore is our Australian shepherds _ we breed and sell a great lineage.

Describe a typical day in your business:

We have a great schedule here that is busy but makes our animal clients the top priority. We live on the premises so there is never a time when no one is here. The start of my day is letting all of the boarder dogs out to into the outdoor dog run that has a covered shelter area along with plenty of grassy play grounds. While the dogs are outdoors, the indoor kennel suites are cleaned, water dishes are refilled fresh, food dishes are set out (some owners bring their dog's food or we supply the food) and dog beds or sleeping pads are shaken out. Other pets being boarded are all cared for at this time also with fresh bedding, food, water and any other needs they might have.

During this time, the professional dog groomers are showing up to greet their first clients, and doggie day care participants arrive to drop off their pets. When this first part of the day is winding down, the kennel guests come back inside to eat and drink before falling into sound sleep. Many of these animals are getting more exercise and outdoor play than they get in their home life, so they are really tired. We close the front office at this time unless someone has made a special appointment _ it is a quiet time and the animals do not have the interruptions and excitement of lots of activity. Throughout, the day-care dogs as well as boarders are let out for supervised play. The day ends with a final treat for all the pets that will be spending a good night at the kennel.

How did you get started in this line of work?

As long as I can remember, I was the girl who people brought pets that were injured or lost and I would groom them, so that might be considered my beginning. I attended college for equine (horse) management and the previous owner of Hannalore heard about my animal care and grooming abilities. He asked if I would like a job at his kennel. That was 13 years ago. Five years ago, I arranged to purchase the business as his health failed.

Where do you see this business in five years?

I see the business continuing to grow. I am working on establishing a legally sound trust fund for people who would like to ensure that their pet receives great care after the owner passes away. We have one animal here whose owner set up an agreement with us to care for her animal because there were no relatives or friends able to take care of her pet. Off to college, military service or relocations make long-term boarding a growing part of our business. We are planning on building several upcale dog boarding condos that will include a higher level of care and accommodations, Our grooming school, behavior modification classes and animal care seminars will continue to grow, and we hope to offer more in the future.

Describe a memorable moment in your workplace:

Every time a dog comes in that no other groomer or kennel could handle _ we have a special talent for aggressive and fearful animals. The animals that everywhere else has refused and we are able to care for are memorable moments for me.

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