Owner: Suzi Walsh from Positive Dog Training, Sandyford, Co Dublin
Animals: Up to 25 dogs every day
Background: Suzi runs a doggy day care service in south County Dublin
While at school, Suzi originally planned to be a vet, but after fainting while watching a surgical operation, she decided to take a different route to working with animals. She did a degree in zoology at UCD, followed by a Masters in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare at Edinburgh University.
She then gained experience working with Dogs Trust, Irish Guide Dogs and Dublin Zoo before deciding that she was ready to run her own animal-related business.
While visiting the USA, Suzi had noticed that it was common for working people to leave their dogs in day care centres, similar to creches for children. She visited a number of places in New York last year, with facilities that included swimming pools, spa treatments and pedicures.
Owners were spending up to $70 (€55) to have their pet pampered.
Suzi realised that the luxury versions of day care for dogs would be unlikely to succeed in a recession, but there were already several doggy day care centres in Ireland, and she felt that there was a niche in the south Dublin area for another one. Many Irish households need to have all adults working in order to survive financially, but when dogs are left alone for extended periods, problems like excessive barking, digging holes in the garden and general hyperactive behaviour are common. The obvious answer is to leave the family dog in a creche-type environment.
Additionally, Suzi had volunteered with dog rescue organisations and noticed people were not allowed to adopt a dog if they worked full-time.
She felt that this was unfair: why should people not be allowed to have a dog if they were responsible individuals who had a way of having their dog cared for in their absence?
In December 2011, Suzi and a friend, Liz McDonagh, opened the doors of Positive Dog Training in Sandyford. It has been a success story from day one: people drop their dogs off at 7.30am on the way to work, collecting them in the evening on the way home.
The facility costs ¤18 a day and can cater for up to 25 dogs at one time: they play together in a large, barn-like hall with non-slip flooring. There are toys similar to a children's creche, including a bouncy castle, a ball-pool, tunnels and even a small slide.
The new business also offers training, grooming and a dog toy shop, but from Monday to Friday, doggy day care is the number one activity. And Suzi loves her new career.
Visit Pete's website at www.petethevet.com