Home Boarding – profession or hobby?

A friend (and client) asked me recently if our team here at the House of Mutt might be getting too ‘big and business-like’ compared to the bucolic home-y set up she’d always pictured.  My (over-wrought, for which apologies….) response makes me think this is a sensitive subject that could do with an airing …

Sensitive because I spend so much time and energy making sure the  ’business’ and ‘home’ sides of the House of Mutt match up – and took her innocent question as sharp criticism that I’d got that balance wrong.

‘Home Boarding’ sounds like you  plonk visiting dogs into your own dog’s bed under the kitchen table and crack on as if they weren’t really there.  But that just doesn’t work.  Not when the visiting dogs are the precious beloveds of someone who is paying you to look after them.

However well you get on with the owner, however much you both love their dog, and however much you’ve discussed the risks accompanying ‘family life freedom’,  you are being entrusted to look after a member of their family – and with that you take on a massive responsibility.

That level of  responsibility, in my view, demands team support!

Our support system here includes various amounts of time from:

  • David (vet stuff, general sanity, Rex, a healthy sense of perspective)
  • Cally (training, dog know-how, life)
  • Ella (office, taxi organising, checking-in, invoicing, grooming, bed-mending, everything)
  • Peter, Ray or Jerry (taxi trips and bonhonmie)
  • Teeny (international travel, wit, charm)
  • Jenny (obsessive vacuuming of carpets and pouffing of cushions)
  • Vicky (photography, and dog back-up when Cally is away); and, last but not least,
  • our Teens who cuddle, fluff, walk, play with and generally love the house guests.

A HoM support team like that enables myself (at the Old Rectory) and Jo (at Merton Hall)  to DO DOGS PROPERLY -  which is what the House of Mutt is all about.

Home Boarding is Lovely (note the capital L) for us, for the dogs and (hopefully) for their owners.  But it’s not without its stresses and responsibilities.  I feel (quite strongly, obviously!) that for it to work safely, happily and well, it needs a team. It’s only with adequate support and vaguely business-like levels of efficiency that both dogs and owners can be looked after to the standard that makes sleeping well at night – in both our and our owners’ houses – possible.

Bucolic?  Yes.  But part-time? No.  This Home Boarding malarkey is a job for professionals; and who, if they think about it, would have it any other way?

My splurge is finished….  Comments / disagreements / assurances welcome!




  1. Kaz Hearns

    6 years ago

    I’ve always admired the “homey” set up that the dogs in your care experience, though I have yet to board a dog myself. However, understanding the responsibility of caring for someone else’s precious canine family member strikes strong with me.

    I would be mortified to place my dog in the care of someone I thought was lacksadasical with his needs, not because I am a besotted owner but because I recognise the practical requirements needed to keep him happy, in good shape and health. There are standards which not all observe – which it appears to me is not the case at HoM.

    Experience of quarantining a dog (many years ago) sharply underlines this and I am glad to say that our dog came out in just as good shape as he went in. That was due to hard work, dedication, good organisation and a huge bunch of kindness.

    I don’t believe an ever changing group of dogs can be successfully managed by putting them all in front of the cottage fire each night and assuming the rest does itself. Each of your team contribute a bit of what most owners do each day without thinking about it – don’t change a thing.

  2. Alison Naulls

    6 years ago

    I’ve been following HOM since I watched an article on our local Anglia TV. I haven’t as yet required their services but if and when I do, I’m certain that I would feel completely at ease leaving my beloved English Setter with this wonderful dog loving family. …. I think it’s been a fantastic business venture but it’s success clearly relies on a dedicated team of dog friendly and knowledgable people who have opened their house and grounds and given the general public the opportunity to leave their pets in a happy relaxed and safe environment thus affording the owner the total peace of mind to relax and enjoy their holiday with the unique option of checking in online to view the daily blog/photographic evidence that their dog/s are enjoying their holiday too!!

  3. sarahmountford

    6 years ago

    Wise words indeed Kaz, and much appreciated ones too – thank you – happy noises from all the team here who are currently setting about our daily ‘work’ with extra big smiles on faces and springs in steps :)

  4. sarahmountford

    6 years ago

    Thank you Alison – your words mean an awful lot. And here’s hoping we meet the B.E.S.one day!