Shropshire’s first ‘Doggy hotel’ transforming the future of canine care

Two young Shropshire entrepreneurs are proving that a dog’s life can lead to a very good business idea after launching a luxury hotel and daycare service.

Best friends Tom Haynes and Luke Bird created K9 Anytime in Higford, near Shifnal, just over nine months ago and have already looked after 1000 different dogs and won plaudits from owners all over the county.

The duo are tapping into the demand for alternatives to ‘walking’ and kennels by creating an experience that allows parents to leave their ‘pooches’ safe in the knowledge they are enjoying lots of socialisation, exercise and relaxation in surroundings that wouldn’t look out of place in a five star hotel.

“K9 Anytime was created as a result of our own struggles to find a place for our dogs to stay when we were away from home for extended periods,” explained Tom, who swapped the chance of studying for a PhD in canine cognition at Harvard University to launch the venture.

“There was nowhere in Staffordshire or Shropshire that met our expectations and when we started doing some feasibility studies we quickly realised there was a market for daycare when parents are at work or out celebrating a big family event.”

He continued: “Dogs are now seen as very much part of the family and parents are prepared to spend that little bit extra to give them the right experience and an environment where they will have fun, will be well looked after and are safe. That’s what we are trying to do and the response has been huge.

“We have already had to extend the daycare facility due to demand and are regularly over 80% occupancy on the hotel side of things. There’s been lots of challenges, but we are definitely having a positive first year.”

K9 Anytime is tucked away in the beautiful Cotsbrook barn conversion in Shifnal, easily accessible from Bridgnorth, Telford and Wolverhampton.

It consists of two large and secure grassy outdoor areas with agility and play equipment and two further indoor daycare rooms complete with sofas, blankets, cushions and raised beds for downtime during the day.

The luxury hotel consists of an exclusive number of fully furnished, private luxury bedrooms, including memory foam beds, luxury blankets and fluffy cushions, sofas and armchairs, room service meals, 24-hour audio and video monitoring and Bluetooth speakers piping in reggae and classical music…scientifically proven to have a relaxing effect on pups.

Luke, who previously worked in National Account Management, added: “It’s more than just the facilities, it’s a way of doing things that gives every dog the day and care they deserve – it’s the 4 STEP Programme of Socialisation, Training, Exercise and Play.

“When they stay over parents are encouraged to tell us all about their personal preferences, habits, routines…they’re even allowed to bring in their favourite breakfast, which in one case was scrambled eggs.

“It’s early days and we’re still learning under Sheila Harper’s canine studies. We’ve got lots of plans to grow K9 Anytime, expand our social media following and introduce more events and local activities. One example is our Dog Show & Summer Festival on Sunday 20th May at Apley Farm Shop, which is a dog-centered day of shopping, activities and demonstrations.”

Tom concluded: “Dogs are no longer just dogs, but members of our immediate family and I, for one am glad they are.

“Some years ago, our two dogs were incessantly licking my mother’s neck, which at first we put down as a lovable habit and later discovered to be the exact spot where a lump had appeared.

“The doctors dismissed her on various occasions, yet the licking and the lump persisted, finally culminating in the discovery of thyroid cancer and the successful treatment that followed. If that doesn’t prove dogs’ worth as our life companions, what on earth does?”