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Pampered pets

From swims in the aquatic center to personal nannies, this kennel treats its pups like royalty

POSTED: February 12, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Tom Reed/The Times

Cavalier King Charles spaniels peer out of their kennel.

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Brittany Hall doesn’t have any children, but she has been a proud parent for more than a year now.

The furry little tykes she refers to as "her babies" are Emily, a 9-month-old Yorkshire terrier, and Boogie, an 18-month-old Chihuahua. Hall said she had never left her dogs alone with a caretaker until last weekend, when she boarded them at Holly Crumley’s Bed and Biscuit Inn in Lula while she went skiing in Gatlinburg, Tenn., for three days.

"They’re very small and they require a lot of attention. They’re nervous little dogs, and they’re prone to getting sick when they’re upset," Hall said. "So we never felt comfortable leaving them with someone else."

Hall said she considers her dogs family, and had always paid extra to tote them along on vacations until she discovered Crumley’s kennel.

Hall toured several dog kennels and interviewed multiple kennel owners in the area before she entrusted Crumley to care for her pups at the Bed and Biscuit Inn.

"She loves dogs and it shows. The other places were no where near as personal," Hall said.

Crumley has had a longtime love affair with dogs. Over the past 30 years, she has bred border collies and golden retrievers. She currently breeds Cavalier King Charles spaniels and has dedicated her days to caring for the sprightly spaniels.

Upon the grand opening of the Bed and Biscuit Inn on Tuesday, she will spend her days caring for other owners’ dogs, as well.

Inspired by her passion for canines, Crumley set to work three years ago designing a boarding facility for dogs with large suites, private porches and a large outdoor exercise area.

Located just a brisk walk away from her own front door in the rolling countryside, the Bed and Biscuit Inn has been under construction for the past six months.

Crumley said the inn is no run-of-the-mill dog boarding business.

"This day in time, people don’t treat their dogs like pets any more, they treat them like family members. So I wanted to have a place where people could leave their dogs where they could be treated like family members," she said.

To fulfill that request, Crumley’s kennel features 36 regular suites and four master suites, which can accommodate three dogs belonging to one owner.

Each suite has webcam capacity. Upon dropping off dogs at the inn, owners can obtain an ISP address and private password that will allow them to view their dog through a live camera feed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Every single suite has camera capacity ... and you can go anywhere in the world and you’ll be able to view your dog," Crumley said.

Pet owners can relax with that knowledge and the fact that their dog is enjoying all the comforts of home, including off-the-floor Kuranda dog beds made popular in Europe, lambs wool to rest their heads on, well-water pumped into individual drinking fountains and doggy doors allowing access to the covered run and outdoor yard at all times.

Crumley said she has spared no expense to ensure dogs boarding at the inn suffer from nothing but "too much comfort."

And the luxury doesn’t stop there.

For a $30 fee, dogs can enjoy 30-minute long nature walks.

"Dogs are stimulated by smells, so the nature walk is wonderful for dogs who get bored. They come back from the nature walk and are worn out," Crumley said.

But in the summertime, when temperatures near 100 degrees, $15 will get dogs an opportunity to swim for half an hour with a handler in the canine aquatic center, planned to open in June.

"It’s great exercise for dogs — they love it," Crumley said. "You can put a life jacket on them and let them swim around. We have life jackets for all sizes. We’ll be in the pool with them, too. Just like a child, you don’t leave them in a pool alone."

Personal service is something else that can be provided at extra cost.

Pet nannies are available for various fees and can accommodate most owners’ requests for their dogs, including extensive walks, playtime and even television sessions.

As a breeder, Crumley said she has also taken extra measures to maintain health standards for her canine boarders. Solid paneling separates each suite from its neighboring suite to prevent "nose-to-nose" contact. As with most kennels, owners must provide proof all canines have had their proper vaccinations.

With two other staff members, including her 20-year-old son, Jake Crumley, Holly Crumley expects to have 50 dogs at full capacity at the inn.

"It’s quite a drive for us, but it’s worth it," Hall said. "You can’t put a price on the care of your dogs."

For the past week, Crumley has offered trial runs for a few customers to test out the new facility before opening day.

One client, who owns a brown and white Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Robert Redford, left her dog with Crumley for several days and had a very personal request.

"She asked me, ‘Will you sleep with him?,’" Crumley said. "I told her, I said, ‘I just don’t think I’ll be able to fit in his crate.’ And she said, ‘Oh, that’s right, you’re married.’ This is the type of clientele we’re dealing with, and we’ll do just about anything they want for their dogs."


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