Jackie McKinley has given her career a new leash of life by setting up a unique hotel in her hometown - and her guests think it’s barking brilliant.
The Carndonagh businesswoman has this week welcomed her first residents to her custom-made luxury home-away-from-home for dogs. Three puppies checked in last night, and today there are five pooches enjoying the sunshine under the watchful eye of Jackie, as she tells DonegalWoman.ie the tail of how it all began:
“I’ve had the idea to set up a doggy hotel in my head for years. I have owned my own barber shop for 18 years that I started when I was 17. I wanted a new adventure, so about six or seven months ago I got stuck into the plans. I’m so glad I did it now, it’s so exciting,” Jackie said.
Jackie has fitted out a huge living room in her home with comfort and cosiness in mind. There are spacious kennels with memory foam mattresses, leather recliner sofas, beanbags, toys, an electric fireplace and a television. Outside, she has had new concrete laid on her street so dogs have two separate yards to run around in, with ball pools and tents for even more entertainment.
It was Jackie’s own dog, Charlie the Yorkshire Terrier, that inspired her to create this special form of kennel.
She said: “Charlie has stayed at other kennels before, but she didn’t get on well at all. She is a house dog and is used to being pampered. She was not used to being outside in cages and she came home thin and wasn’t eating.
“The home environment makes dogs feel better. They’re having so much fun they’re not even thinking about the fact their owner is away.”
Jackie has always had a passion for dogs: “I love dogs and all animals in general. I would have spent my childhood years rescuing dogs.
“Nothing dogs do ever annoys me. I take in any breed. A lot of kennels don’t take in breeds such as Bull Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
“I’m planning to take in no more than six or seven at any one time. They can be hard work with all the different personalities. Some can be very hyper or others are relaxed.”
Jackie has done some personal training in dog behaviour and canine first aid to keep the dogs safe and happy together.
“It doesn’t feel like a business because I love the dogs so much,” Jackie said. She plans to continue with the Barbershop alongside the Hotel. As a keen entrepreneur, Jackie has many options and offers for her customers. She provides overnight stays for €15 and a daycare service for €10.
Dog owners who have booked in include those going to work, attending hospital appointments or week-long holidays. Some people leave their pooches with Jackie to socialise with other dogs.
Jackie keeps all the pet owners updated with photos and videos, and there’s no shortage of media entertainment for the dogs either.
“A lot of dogs love sitting and watching TV, like my Charlie. I thought it would be fun for the doggy place if I bought the Hotel for Dogs movie. They love watching dogs on TV.”
With comfy surroundings, nighttime meditation music and endless entertainment, this doggy den sounds pawsitively palatial! C
heck out Jackie’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/THE-HOTEL-FOR-DOGS-215574965693130/