Our businesses started in 1984 with two dogs and one kennel. Tony worked as a self employed farm worker and trained gundogs on a part time basis. Jean worked as a secretary/administrator.
Whilst working dogs as a hobby and self satisfaction for perfection, Tony was inundated with requests to train other peoples’ dogs. He took on more and more dogs from around Kent until his hobby became almost a full time job. He then had to decide to continue as a farmer or commit 100% to training dogs.
This was, in many ways, an easy decision because he could work at something he really enjoyed. It is often the case the owner will commence training and when running into difficulties, will seek advice and professional help. The young dogs will then return to the kennels for training for between 8 and 10 months depending on what end result is required.
In 1992 Tony made the move to Cuckoo Wood Farmhouse and started up with only 8 kennels. Reassuringly, all his regular clients were willing to follow him to the new location. Here he could accommodate anything up to 20 dogs at one time for training. It was around this time that Tony met Jean and they married in 1996. He started writing gundog training articles for the Sporting Gun Magazine in 1996.
This property was not their own however and it took the best part of five years to find a property where they could construct new kennels themselves.
During the late summer of 2004, we moved to Tawnyhill Kennels near Sittingbourne into purpose built kennels.
During 2005, our daughter Helen gave up full time employment to help run the business 3 to 4 days a week.
The kennels comprise of one family block 12 kennels (6ft wide) and two kennel blocks with 18 kennels (4ft wide) and our new block comprising of 22 kennels (4 kennels 4ft wide and 18 6ft wide). Two of the blocks can be heated. There are also 4 separate whelping kennels, dog’s kitchen and storage block. The kennels are completely enclosed, with a separate sleeping to exercise area.
We breed puppies (Working Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, Labradors and Golden Retrievers) throughout the year depending on demand. Puppies that are not sold when they are 10 weeks old will be kept on at the kennels and trained and sold as trained or part trained dogs. At times of the year, we have a waiting list for our puppies.
We have a 6 acre rabbit pen (and a very small pen) available for the ‘steadying’ of the young dogs. The pen is used for training, but is available for the individual to train their own dog in a confined area full of scent.
During the summer of 2007 we applied for our boarding license with Swale Borough Council for a boarding license and can now board breeds other than working dogs. The dogs are walked twice a day every day in a separate 6 acres of cherry orchards.